Frontier Psychiatrist

A Duck of My Very Own

Posted on: April 25, 2012

duck quacking I’m basically a pro at fantasizing about lifestyles/careers/states of mind that I’m pretty sure I could never achieve.  For example, I know I will never be quite zen enough to be a yogi, nor could I give up my nights and weekends to work in the restaurant business.  And while I admire vegetarians, I couldn’t possibly denounce brisket for long enough to be one (although I did accomplish this for 6 impressive years in my youth).  But the one fantasy I keep coming back to—the one that seems vaguely attainable—is the one in which I pick fresh berries from my garden at breakfast, then come back later to pick vegetables for dinner.  All I see are open, fertile fields, and everything I eat comes from within 30 miles of my home.  And I have a pet duck.  (Lifelong aspiration.)

Last weekend, I met the people living my dream.  Right down to the little quacker.  Upstate in Columbia County, I visited family friends who have a growing operation in their backyard, somewhere between enormous garden and mini-farm.  Their vegetables and strawberries grow in a greenhouse, asparagus stalks shoot straight up from the ground, and a dozen chickens cluck from within a pen.  And then there’s Diddy, the duck, who will eventually lay eggs of her own but currently fits in the palm of a hand, soft and gentle as the children’s books would lead you to believe.

At this garden/farm, named Toad Hall by its owners, I picked crisp, sweet miner’s lettuce, thick and hearty spinach leaves, and the spiciest arugula I’ve ever tasted.  I petted a chicken about to lay eggs, and I held a baby duck, who had imprinted on a human as her mother.  I saw the mobile pen where the new meat chickens will be living come summer.  And then I ate the veggies I had picked for dinner.  They were objectively delicious and flavorful, but the added satisfaction came from knowing that I had pulled them from the ground earlier.

My experience—just a casual afternoon at Toad Hall—really got me thinking about farm-to-table and why it’s so appealing.  We’re all vitally connected to food but without much concept of how it has made its way to us.  I know I’m not the first person to pick up on this trend; eager 20-somethings flee from Brooklyn all the time to intern at various upstate NY farms, like Kinderhook, ready to birth lambs and shear sheep.  But we can’t (and needn’t) all do that.  Just spending a bit of time with farmers has shown me the dedication, care, and craftsmanship that goes into responsible farming, and that makes me feel good about eating what they’ve grown.  I suppose my point is that it’s worth at least getting to know a farmer (or a master gardener).  Seeing where truly good food comes from might change the way you think about what you eat.  And in a world where pink slime was even conjured up, this seems to me something that our society must do.

              

I do believe that I could love small-scale farm life.  And I’m certain it would be more work than I think.  But at the very least it would be rewarding and delicious, and there isn’t much more one could ask for.  (Except… wait for it… a duck.)

Freya Bellin writes alternate Wednesdays for Frontier Psychiatrist. Her recent FP recipes include Why Ramps Make People GiddyCookie Season, and High on Grass: SXSW Beef Lovers Edition.

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4 Responses to "A Duck of My Very Own"

[…] Bellin writes alternate Wednesdays for Frontier Psychiatrist. Her recent FP recipes include A Duck of My Very Own, Why Ramps Make People Giddy, and Cookie Season. Share […]

[…] Wednesdays for Frontier Psychiatrist. Her recent FP recipes include Cook it, Don’t Buy It, A Duck of My Very Own, and Why Ramps Make People Giddy. Share this:ShareEmailTwitterFacebookRedditStumbleUponYahoo […]

[…] Wednesdays for Frontier Psychiatrist. Her recent FP recipes include Cook it, Don’t Buy It, A Duck of My Very Own, and Why Ramps Make People Giddy. Share this:ShareEmailTwitterFacebookRedditStumbleUponYahoo […]

[…] FP recipes include Ethnic Excursion: Kalustyan’s in NYC, Cook it, Don’t Buy It, and A Duck of My Very Own. Share this:ShareEmailTwitterFacebookRedditStumbleUponYahoo BuzzDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

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