Saturday morning I was puttering around the house when the hubby suggested checking out Coopers Ark Farm. Coopers Ark is where we buy our eggs and chicken from most weeks at the Greenmarket, and it’s been a goal of ours this summer to go to the actual farms where our food comes from to see how the animals are treated.
Some of you may remember this post about an email K and I received from Phil upon finding out some of his chickens had Green Muscle Disease. Our trust with Phil has come a ways since then, all of it good, as he has tried to be extremely forthright in all of our dealings.
Still, we had made a pact to visit at some point, and Saturday was finally supposed to be the ideal summer day, beautiful sun, low humidity, not too hot. We jumped in the car and headed out to Schoharie, following Google Maps directions. Turned on one road, then another, then found ourselves heading straight into someone’s farm! Two farm dogs came charging at the car, protective of their master’s domain. We brought the car to a screeching halt, balancing precariously on the gravel road (if it could be called such) before we hit a dog.
Have you ever driven through farm country on the east coast, on public “highways” that separate a house and its barns? The barns are so close to the side of the heavily paved road, and the farmhouse sits on the other side, separate by the length of concrete? It seems weird to see a parcel of land divided like that. Well, drive to Coopers Ark sometime, and you’ll see how those roads became ROADS. The private road we ended up on (because there was no other choice) was full of holes, gravel, rocks and we could barely get our car down it. When the dogs brought our car to a stop (soon after I saw a Farm for Environmental Conservation sign on the side of THEIR barn), of course, the owner poked his head out to find out who the heck was driving through his land. Sheepishly, we apologized for the intrusion and asked how to get to Coopers Ark. He was very nice about it, telling us we could either continue on that road the rest of the way, or go back out to the paved road. We decided to go back to the paved one, but when we found another turn off for Ark Hill, it was no better than the previous one. Straight down a huge hill, ditches and rocks leering at us the whole way. But we got down it.
The first thing I noticed was the house. A nice ranch, but certainly nothing like the other farm we’d just passed through.
We actually almost drove past it because it didn’t look like a farm to me. Little did I know that the farm buildings were in the distance. Luckily, we happened upon Phil outside, just about to jump on his ATV and head to the barns. After greeting us like old friends, we took a tractor ride out to the rest of the farm where we met many of the critters.
Outbuildings with small grain elevator
“Momma”, digging in the dirt for some corn
Guinea fowl, 3 weeks old
“Heidi” and “Willie”
Two calves sucking down water like there’s no tomorrow
Goats fighting over who gets the bottle
The lambs are much better behaved.
The piglets have freedom to roam almost anywhere. Look at their muddy legs!
One of the emus chows down
After we had fun with those animals, we headed down to the chicken “houses” to see how they’re kept.
I’m not sure why this picture is through the gate. Phil let us in and I actually walked the whole length of the house. Out back and to the sides the chickens have the freedom to come and go as they choose into the grass. I saw many of them taking dust baths, running around playing games, and several perched in the nesting boxes. It really made me smile. They looked so happy.
Afterwards, we went back into the other barn because several ducks were sitting on eggs, waiting for them to hatch.
Look at the baby duck! He was born just the day before! The mom had gotten off her nest to chase several other naughty babies who had decided to leave the nest and go on an adventure into the scary world.
What a good mom! She dutifully chastises them and they follow her back to the nest. ”This way!” she quacks.
There were other good moms. Behind one of the walls of the barn, we found these.
How would they ever climb the 3 feet to the other side of the wall, we wondered. But Phil pointed out this lovely lady.
There she is, standing on top of the wall. Phil told us she goes down, picks up the chicks and drops them on the other side once they hatch.
After the duckies, we took Angelo the donkey for a walk.
I wanted a hug, but he wasn’t so interested.
Nope, all he was interested in was eating as much greenery as possible!
After we were done, we walked back toward the house, and Phil lent us one of his ATVs to head over to the turkey barn. At this point, I put the camera away, afraid I’d drop it off a moving ATV. The turkeys were a brilliant white, half indoors, half outdoors. Whatever they wanted. I was satisfied, especially because we had one of these turkeys last year for Thanksgiving.
After we were done with all the animals, Phil let us use the ATV to go touring around his property, so we could see the beautiful views he is surrounded by each day. We took it to the edge of his farthest field and took it all in.
So gorgeous. We spent about 4-5 hours at Coopers Ark, nearly all of that time with Phil Metzger personally, who took all that time to show us his farm, answer all our questions, and treated us like good friends by allowing us to tour around on the ATV. Everyone should know their farmers so well. :)
P.S. – I could totally live on a farm.
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