Producing, eating and sharing food are critical building blocks of a healthy community. - Reese Lolley
By Reese Lolley, Eastern Washington Forests Program Director
Do you know where your food comes from? Most people don’t! As a program director for The Nature Conservancy in Washington, the connection to nature and the food nature provides is important to me. So I am taking my family on a journey to find ways to make connections to our food, and our greater community, while having some fun!
Many of us feel squeamish, grossed out or nervous about food that is not packaged, pasteurized, and preserved. But our family is producing some of our food ourselves, connecting with our community and fueling for our bodies and spirits, all thanks to Felice, Cinnamon, and Aerial.
My grandmother, born in a family of 11 that homesteaded a farm in Oregon. It was hard work and she could never understand why anyone would want anything to do with farming once they got away from it! But I decided to jump back into it with three Nubian goats. These adorable, friendly goats produce extraordinary milk and help us connect with nature.
Getting our milk straight from the source is a lot of fun and a lot of work. The goats require milking twice a day, seven days a week plus feeding mucking the pens and more. It’s a big commitment! You can’t just skip milking because you want to go hiking or go on a trip. Thus invention of the “goat club”. Sixteen families share 14 milking shifts. Everyone signs up for shifts and shares in the cost of the goats. Families commit to showing up for their time to milk, and they reap the benefits of fresh milk for drinking, cheeses, yogurt, pudding, and yes, ice cream!
Our sons love to visit with families that come and have become the experts on helping those in need of finessed milking techniques. We all get together to share recipes, food, and laughs a few times a year. Many hands make light work of mucking out the pen, and what the pen produces makes for happy gardens. It’s all part of how nature feeds us.
The mixture of goats and kids lead to many funny experiences. For example, one day my youngest son, Theo, was milking Felice, I stepped away, and when I returned, Theo, instead of milking into the bucket, was spraying shots of milk straight into the mouth of our dog, much to the delight of Rufus and the other kids! While all the kids in the goat club have fun, they are also learning a lot about where our food comes from and the work that goes into farming.
Producing, eating and sharing food are critical building blocks of a healthy community. By raising our own goats and sharing the work and bounty with a group of other families, we gain a strong connection to where our food comes from and are better connected to other humans as well. It’s our version of living the good life.