Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Visit to The Zillig Family Farm

I just finished sitting here munching on perfect "farm fresh" eggs... literally... more in a minute... and just wondering how to write about our glorious adventure to a sheep farm yesterday.  
It was the perfect Spring day in the country - 12°C/54°F and brilliant sunshine overhead!  We even saw some crocuses starting to bud and trying to get a jump on the season.  It's only mid March and normally bitterly cold, grey and very wintry.  My daughter Joanna was on a hunt for organic sheep fertilizer for her garden and found some about an hour or so from Halifax.  So we turned the day into a wonderful adventure that surpassed any expectations we had.   But where to begin in the telling....
First to say that Marg Zillig is awesome, a gracious host and an inspiration. As usual my post will jump all over the place... this time starting at the end of the visit.  Marg (on the right) invited us in to her home and served us plum juice made from plums from her own plum trees! Not to mention the gorgeous and delicious cookies we all munched on or the dozen eggs she gave us to remind the kids where they come from...or the braid of garlic, Joanna bought.  Marg plants 1500-2000 cloves in her garden.   Joanna...75!
I need no reminders and I must say, to all my city friends... there is truly nothing like fresh from the farm eggs from free run chickens.
Perhaps I'll start with some history...the farm house (behind Joanna & Marg) was built in the 1700's just after the expulsion of the Acadians from the region.   Marg's dad, emigrated from Germany in 1953, and met her mom, Edith, also a German emigre, in Nova Scotia.  They both brought their farming backgrounds with them and bought the farm (at one time 250 acres, now at 175 acres and beautifully pastoral!) in 1958, had two children (Marg and her older brother) and farmed it ever since.   Marg has been running the farm on her own since her mom passed away in 2009 at the age of 94.
 Zillig Family Farm in Hants County, Nova Scotia is an Artisan farm, which means it's not certified organic, but pretty darn close.  Marg studied animal husbandry and agriculture at McGill University in Montreal, as well as in Europe.  She is more than knowledgeable, she is passionate.  We all fell in love instantly.
We were joined by some friends of Boaz & Dov and their mom, Zoey, and like all little boys... and girls, for that matter... there is nothing as much fun as running around, stomping in mud and playing with the animals.  So perhaps the best way to go is to follow the boys and hear what they had to say....
The geese, two ganders and four geese are in mating season, so the ganders (and their partners) had to be separated... the men are very territorial during mating season.  Can you imagine... these geese, especially the ganders are even louder than squealing little boys!  Boaz even covered his ears and told us just how loud they were.
On to the chickens...the excited boys, drove the chickens indoors... unintentionally, of course... and when Boaz pushed aside the netting to check out the coop and see the eggs, his first response was to hold his nose and inform us that the chickens smelled! ...a personal aside, having visited an industrial chicken farm, which really smelled so bad, I gagged...I can tell you all that this one hardly smelled at all.  We, of course had to have the discussion about the fact that all animals poop, just like us.  We're into toilet training, can you tell?

Boaz did ask Marg where the rooster was, but since these hens are layers, rather than breeders, there's no need for a rooster.  All we want are the delicious eggs!    We also saw a few ducks, that Marg keeps for eggs for those of us who can't tolerate hens eggs.
We passed the water fowl pond that Marg's dad dug years and years ago where Dov (our little one) found his favorite animal on the farm... a barn cat... a stray left by the side of the road a year ago and now lives happily on the farm.
On to the sheep...lots of ewes
and lambs that are just one month old.
and this was the best shot I could get of Marg holding a skittish lamb so the still squealing boys could pet him.
While Marg was telling us about the sheep.. their heritage, their wool, etc... the boys found a new place to play... the mountain of sheep ... fertilizer!

What a wonderful visit!  Joanna wants to become Marg, I just admire her and all the hard work that goes into tending the animals, the produce garden, I didn't even mention because it's all under a protective layer of hay, waiting for Spring to really arrive.

Thank you, Marg and to those of you who don't live on a farm... make a visit.  It's a fantastic opportunity  to learn about and appreciate where our food comes from.  Oh.... and Boaz' favorite animal... the puppy!

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I love farm-to-table adventures! Those eggs are so gorgeously yellow-hued.