What a rainy year it has been! Just when we think spring is ready to bust open, it seems another blast of winter comes storming through, and another week of water gushes from the sky. I think we can safely say that the drought is over here on the West Coast! We thankfully enjoy the “sun breaks” and singular days of warmth and sunshine. The kids were thrilled to finally have the opportunity (with willing adults) to try their hands at fishing in the pond once again! Our oldest helper won the prize, catching four large mouth bass.Other news on the farm: Mr. Hubbard has officially retired! … At least from one job. He has quickly filled the void with plenty of other work around the farm, including building this beautiful new pergola for the grapes to climb on, and a new raised bed for the strawberries. One of our constant challenges is to find a place to plant all of the fruits and veggies we aspire to harvest. It’s because of this that many of your average garden plants have found their way into our flower beds as well. Some veggies are downright pretty anyhow, right? Mr. Hubbard has been reluctant to fill his retirement with an old profession, knowing that his former life as a dairy farmer was anything but restful and relaxing. A dairy farmer’s life is the very definition of commitment and dedication… twice a day, 365 days a year, regardless of weddings, church, or social ‘obligations.’ At the same time, this extra bit of time has provided just the opportunity to introduce the grand kids to a way of life that we believe teaches responsibility and work ethic. And so it has occurred that after 20 years, our little farm is now home once again to one singular little Holstein calf, whom we have named Clarabell. She has been the center of so much excitement and joy as the kids fight over who gets to feed her, and spend much of their free time doting on her and building her already social personality. We are now in the works of building our fourth generation on this farm. Bill and Jo Hubbard first bought the farm in the early 1950’s, and Bill worked multiple jobs while also building his own dairy herd, just to pay for the place we now call home. As their kids moved through college and into their own careers, Bill and Jo decided they were ready to sell the cows, at which time their youngest son stepped in to take over the herd and farm responsibilities. He and his wife eventually named the dairy “Billanjo Dairy,” and continued building the dairy into a successful, small, raw milk dairy farm. As a family, we milked the cows, bottled the milk, delivered it to the stores, and even made cheese which we marketed at local farmers markets under the label, “Easteagle Cheese,” due to our location East of Eagle Point. It was a busy and demanding life, but good. However, raw milk was an outgoing ‘fad’ at that time, and began to incur ridicule and censure from a society phobic of bacteria. In an effort to sterilize the world we live in, Oregon regulations on raw milk began to increase and tighten, tighten and increase. We fought to meet the new regulations, making our raw milk cleaner than any pasteurized product on the shelf today. Then, after an e-coli breakout at a Washington Jack-in-the-Box, Center for Disease Control (CDC), local news stations, and even the Dairy Farmers of Oregon began to advise the general populace to avoid drinking raw milk as a precaution to avoid illness, in spite of the strict regulations and testing undergone to ensure cleanliness and purity of our product. Customers and stores carrying our milk began to fall away, influenced not by their experience, but by the media and popular fear. Legislation was introduced, and passed, to outlaw raw milk in the state of Oregon. Our dairy was grandfathered in and allowed to continue until pure economics took their toll. In 1996, our dairy was one of the last three to close in the state of Oregon, bringing a dramatic change of course for our family life. Twenty years later, we’ve traveled the globe and worked lots of other jobs. Most of the ‘kids’ are now married with their own kids. Raw milk now sells at approximately $12 a gallon from private parties (we sold ours for $2/gallon when we closed in 1996, as we competed with mainstream milk prices). These days, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and the public has begun to repulse antibiotics, and in turn embrace probiotics and all things raw! (We clearly remember the difficulty of trying to educate people that not all bacteria are bad, and some are even necessary for cheese making and gut health.) As fate would have it, we Hubbards have nearly all come back to settle close to the family farm, which has been leased for the past twenty years to a beef rancher. We hold fondly our memories and experiences from the farm (most of them, that is), and still share an affinity for little black and white Holstein calves. That being said, don’t be too surprised when you come by the farm and see a couple of them running around again! We do not have any current plans to re-open the family dairy, so to speak, but we have high hopes for our newest farm member!
The garden report: Things are growing, in spite of the cold and rain this year! We have begun to sell chard, broccoli, and walnuts in our garden shed along with farm fresh eggs. The other things are in the ground and growing: cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, garlic, onions, beets, kale, cauliflower, berries, melons… All things summer and delicious!
Also, beware of the puncture vine, which are popping out all over the valley, thanks to the recent rains. Check out our previous post on that (Blackberries & Puncture Vine) so you can identify and remove them from your own property before they permanently invade your lawns and driveways!