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Checking out Goats
Here I am checking out some local goats at the Shawsville Harvest Festival!
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Meeting New Friends
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Rover Greets a Friend
Greetings! I’m Rover the Duck, and I’d like to quack – er, talk – to you about local foods. I’m a big believer in local foods. My sisters and I get very excited when we hear the mower, because we know that we’re going to get a deeper bed of fresh grass for sleeping on, to go along with the grasses, clover, lambsquarters, bugs, well water, and rain water we feast on. Our daily grazing is supplemented by grain from Big Spring Mill, in Elliston, Virginia.
My sisters and I live with Sandy and Ralph Birkenmaier, at Brush Creek Aquaponics, in the Riner/Pilot area of Montgomery County, Virginia. We’re 8 miles from Christiansburg, 16 miles from Blacksburg, and about 40 miles from Roanoke. It’s closer as the wild duck flies but, being a domesticated girl, I can’t fly very high or very far. When we travel the 17 miles to the Shawsville Farmers Market, at the Meadowbrook Center on Saturday mornings, I ride in the comfort of a large dog carrier in our truck (which is opened up as soon as we get to the Market).
The USDA has just begun the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, but I’ve known for a long time that you should know your food producer, not just your farmer. I serve as the ambassaduck for Brush Creek Aquaponics, and for all serious egg-laying ducks. While wild ducks lay eggs only in the spring, we domesticated girls lay year-round, so that you can enjoy fresh eggs whenever you please.
Did you know that food in an American grocery store travels, on average, more than 1500 miles to get to the store? That’s a lot of lost flavor and nutrients, not to mention costs for fuel and temperature control along the way. You can find lots of nutritious and tasty food in your own backyard, at places like farmers markets and produce stands.
Farmers markets give you a chance to buy food at its freshest, support local agriculture (which, of course, helps the local economy), interact with your neighbors, and really get to know your local duck – and farmer. You can find out how food is actually produced, and make suggestions for products that you might want to obtain. The general consensus is that local food, even when it’s not certified organic, is better for you and the environment, than is certified organic food that has been shipped across the country.
Farmers markets are also a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine (something most humans don’t get enough of), and have fun, all at no cost. I frequent the Shawsville Farmers Market, and there’s something extra special going on there at least once a month.
The Meadowbrook Public Library’s Harvest Festival was October 3, 2009. The usual Market vendors were there, along with additional vendors, and representatives of groups and businesses. There was even homegrown music: the Black Twig Pickers were there from Ironto. There’s nothing like good webbed-foot-tappin’ music to get a girl’s tail wagging!
And there were more animals there than you could shake a feather at. I met a pair of draft horses, two ducks, a chicken, three goats, several dogs, and got kissed by a Jacobs sheep. I wasn’t even intimidated by her four horns. I tried to get in on the duck races, but the other contestants were rubber duckies, and I would have an unfair advantage.
I got to meet so many kids, too. I knew some from the Market, and I’d met some at the Tomato Festival in August, but there were a lot of new kids, too, who had come for the games, the crafts, and the face painting.
You can meet me at the Shawsville Farmers Market on Saturday mornings through November 7, 2009. I let people rub me and feel my super-soft feathers. Even if I decide to peck, it doesn’t hurt, because I don’t have any teeth. You can watch me take baths and do the duckie paddle in my basin (it’s a lot smaller than the pool in our duck yard, but it works). And each week, I’m almost guaranteed to show off my flying ability and walk off to see who else is at the Market.
I’m not sure what I’ll be doing after the season is over at the Shawsville Farmers Market. Do you have any suggestions? You can contact me through Sandy and Ralph’s website at BrushCreekAqua.webs.com. Thanks, and happy eating!