Did you know my [not so] little brother is a farmer? It amazes me to type it out. Farmer is actually a profession you might think about when you’re little. You want to be a doctor, teacher, fireman, or farmer when you grow up. Maybe zoo keeper. Maybe a chef or bus driver. (In my first grade assignment along these lines, I wanted to be a cheerleader and a bride. So, check and check. Achieved my life goals. The former in middle school—have I peaked too soon?)
Once our brother John was at his high school girlfriend’s house, and the girlfriend’s father asked what profession he was interested in. John said the first thing that came to mind: “I really want to be an astronaut.”
Sensing John was full of it—shocker—the dad smirked and said, “Really.”
From that point, whenever John was introduced to family friends, the dad told them about his lifelong dream of exploring outer space. They kept the ruse up for months, at least.
Back to the point . . . I’m saying that farming is LEGIT. Mary Tobin and I were lucky enough to visit Uncle Ben at the farm on our trip to Memphis this summer. Delta Sol Farm is across the river in Arkansas, and Ben tells me the area is “a Silicon Valley for small farming.” Or something.
[Memphians, you should visit them at the Cooper Young Community Farmers Market on Saturdays, and/or check out Hog & Hominy, a delicious farm-to-fork (at first I typed "fark"---you should say it that way if it feels better!) type restaurant that uses some of their stuff.]
Ben lives in a trailer, among the chickens. But I like to call his place “The Cabin.”
When Ben walks, the chickens follow. He’s the dude with the food.
Understandably, Mary Tobin did not demonstrate great enthusiasm at this point.
If chickens were our size, they would be terrifying. Ben says they’re like little dinosaurs, and I could definitely see it. (But if you’re interested in hungry animals, just wait.)
OK, bye chickens! Thank you for your delicious eggs!
Then, Ben showed us the air-conditioned storage unit where produce boxes and buckets of flowers were waiting for transport to the next day’s CSA pick up. Playing the dashing farmer role to the hilt, he gave Mary Tobin and me flowers! (But if you want to know what became of those flowers, just wait.)
Next we visited stinky pigs in their muddy pen (just wait). I consider myself an outdoors person, but perhaps it’s more city outdoors now—nice trees and well tended parks, etc. I was not very into these animals. Mama Rote looked at me and said, “I should’ve taken you to the farm more!”
I have to say, the best animals were the sheep.
All the animals were initially friendly, or at least interested, because normally seeing Ben means food. The sheep below is Bo. He was the nicest because he was bottle fed as a little lamb.
So, a great little visit to the farm.
Until we began walking out, and the pigs broke loose.
Mom and I continued to walk, carrying Mary Tobin, to leave Ben to handle things. But the savage pigs came with us. We stopped so they wouldn’t follow us right out of that pasture. Then we realized they were a bit determined, a bit . . . aggressive.
Mom knew I was freaking out inside and said “Josie, it’s fine.” (UM, my child is being attacked by hungry pigs!) And that’s when a hungry pig jumped up and nipped Mama Rote’s rear end. To protect my mother and daughter, I jabbed at the pigs with the nice dahlias we’d just received, then threw them to the side as a diversion. The pigs quickly realized those flowers weren’t yummy food.
We retreated to the fence of the pasture we’d just left. I went through the gate, closed and locked it. After Mom handed Mary Tobin over the gate to safety, this is where she ended up:
Now we’re laughing. “One of them nipped my fanny!”
Then we left the farm and went to eat Mexican food. The End. Thanks, Uncle Ben!
P.S. For a more seriouser education on farming, Ben wrote “How Your CSA Came Into The World.” Read it; you will be so grateful!
P.P.S. I over-dramatized the loose pig story. Delta Sol Farm and my brother Ben are safe and reputable.