Years ago, in the autumn when the crab apple tree was heavy with fruit, we had a guest here, a chef from New York City. This was his first ever experience away from the city... and he left my father speechless.
"What are you planning to do with all the radishes?" he asked, chatting with Paul in the yard. Paul looked a little non-plussed. We do grow radishes. By late autumn, they are big enough, and hot enough, to fuel a nuclear reactor, and at that point we usually just pretend that they are all gone.
"Radishes?" Paul asked, tentatively.
"Yep," replied our friend, pointing to the crab apple trees. "You've got a whole lot of them!"
It's a bit disconcerting to learn that a great many people have no idea where their food comes from, how it grows, how much labour it takes to get it from farm to fork. The children who visit us at Bondi always enjoy coming into our own organic garden, helping us pick corn, or dig up potatoes, or a host of other things that taste so wonderful fresh from the garden.
It's good to remember where our food comes from. It's good to pause, and thank the farmers who feed us. It's good to make the connection between the living chicken and the egg at the breakfast table, between the heavy dark earth and the potato. It's good when the animals are well cared for and happy, leading the best lives we can give them, in exchange for our own needs.
We were at Mallard Siding, the Bliss family farm today, picking up round bales of hay for the horses. Yes, the deer will pick at them, too. Everything is connected. Nor is this a post for vegetarians -- without a market use, beef cattle would rapidly become extinct, and endless forests would fall to the plow to grow sufficient protein to fee the world. It's a trade-off, but one that demands we do the best we can for the animals.
The Bliss' raise beef cattle, and they raise them the way cattle were meant to be raised -- naturally, without chemical and growth hormones, ranging in large fields. The cattle were all outside today, happily munching home-grown hay in the sunshine, very relaxed and content. The calves will start arriving at Bliss farm in another month or so, as the age-old cycle of life on the farm continues.
You can find the Bliss farm family out during the summer months at Farmers' Markets, such as the one in Huntsville on Thursdays. Or you can drop by the farm for a tour, or to buy products directly from the farm-gate. It's best, however, to call ahead! Farmers don't spend a lot of time sitting with their feet up beside the telephone...
Proud members of Savour Muskoka, the Bliss family believe in the benefits of supporting the local farmers and chefs, providing quality products to quality establishments, and promoting the doctrine of "Eat Local, Think Global".
You can find their beef on the menus at places such as Deerhurst Inn, Delta Grandview and Spencer's Tall Trees. Or you can drop by the Farmer's Market, and find it on your own table.