Fall, Farms, and Newfound Respect
Fall, you’re alright.
The end of summer is usually a pretty depressing time of the year… BUT, this year has been exceptional. It has barely rained in Raincouver (Vancouver), meaning falling leaves are able to beautifully litter the sidewalks without transforming into instant brown mush. An unusual amount of amateur photographers seem to suddenly appear from every corner of my neighbourhood, trying to capture some of this magic. I think I’ve found a new appreciation for fall. It really is quite beautiful.
Last weekend, I visited my friend who lives a bit further away from the city. I have to admit I rarely venture beyond the city (and this is only because it was her birthday last weekend). Friday nights were usually reserved for nights out in town. Instead, she invited me to stay a night at her place and promised to take me pumpkin and apple picking. Hmmmm. Sounds interesting. This city girl DOES like converting produce into baked treats, and enjoy eating them even more.
We visited Willow View Farms in Abbotsford. In the fall, this farm sold seasonal pumpkins, squashes, corns, apples grown right here on their farm, as well as local eggs, milk, frozen berries, and other products from nearby businesses. You could also go into the orchards to pick your own apples for a reduced price per pound. As well, there was a petting farm with chickens, baby chicks, turkeys, goats, bighorn sheep, pigs, horses, and rabbits, The whole set-up was very cute and family friendly.
We dragged the wagon buggy that the farm provided up and down the aisles and aisles of Fuji and Jonagold apple trees. There was something so indescribably refreshing about picking an apple right off the tree and eating it (which by the way, is totally acceptable! Eat to your heart’s content while you pick). We also walked along the pumpkin patches. Since the weather has been amazing lately, it wasn’t terribly muddy as it usually is by this time.
We then visited a dairy farm called Birchwood Dairy Farm. My friend indulged in their freshly made, in-house ice cream but I took a pass due to my cold. It did look very good though. They had a cow tour area where visitors are free to walk around to see how the cows are milked, where they eat hay, and where young cow calves are kept. The young cow calves were so cute, affectionate and curious. They craned their necks to an uncomfortable length just to sniff you and give you a rough lick/taste.
At the end of all this, I was so surprised at myself. I think I might have enjoyed the farm trips more than my friend who took me there. Who knew I had a hidden farm/valley girl inside of me? I think it also helped that my nose wasn’t working properly due to my cold so I really didn’t mind being close to the animals and manure. Some of the animals were so big that you can’t help but feel actually helpless next to them if they were to do something. Bighorn sheep: 1, me: 0. They watched me intently in their crates and stood their ground, while others were eager to come closer and get a little too friendly. At some point, I felt they knew I was probably more scared of them than the other way around.
The farm trip itself is a good reminder. Knowing your food and where it comes from is something that we say and agree upon, but it strikes a chord within you when you actually crouch down and stare into the beady eyes of that chicken looking back at you. I love my meat too much to become a vegetarian but I think there’s value in knowing your meat beyond simply locating the neatly prepped, styrofoam package in the supermarket. So much of our food these days are stripped and completely devoid of any traces of their origin. It’s like people are scared to know or they don’t want to know. And the manufacturers comply. When you stand next to an animal, you gain a new sense of respect for them. You also develop a respect for what exactly you put into your mouth. You realize – “some animal has actually DIED in order for me to have this next tasty meal.” I don’t mean to sound like a meat-shaming, vegetarian activist, but I think cultures, that fully respect an animal when you kill it to consume, are on the right track. I’m also a big believer of not wasting animal parts. I think I once heard a quote that said something along the lines of – If you must bang an animal on its head, at least have the respect to use all of it.
On a lighter note: Nothing screams fall more than pumpkins and pumpkin pies!! Have you ever made a pumpkin pie from scratch? Well, now I can say I have (except we cheated on the crust part – shh). We stayed up to 3am to bake and finished the next morning. It was delicious and FRESH. I encourage you to try it with your next pumpkin! It’s actually pretty easy. It just takes a bit more manual labour and patience than walking into a store and buying an already-made one. ;)
Here is the recipe we followed: Mrs. Sigg’s Fresh Pumpkin Pie Recipe.
4 THINGS TO NOTE REGARDING THE RECIPE:
- We found the measurements in the recipe actually made two pies
- We suggest adding some spices to make the pie more fragrant – 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
- Try to use a sugar pumpkin if possible; the sugar pumpkin did seem less stringy and had a smoother and richer texture when puréed
- We still had half a mug of leftover pumpkin pie filling – don’t throw it out! Spoon some in your next coffee. They made some intensely good pumpkin spice lattes!