Minneapolis has a farm within its park system, Gale Woods Farm.
They raise cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens, in addition to a number of crops. They expose school groups to farming and offer volunteer opportunities. The park is about 15 minutes from our place.
You can buy pastured meats at a fraction of the NYC price (5 lb leg of lamb -$36). As far as I know this is unique to the region, is hardly known even to locals, and is a great resource in a region that has not quite made pastured meats accessible to the urban population. Food is generally more expensive in the Minneapolis region than it is in NYC, variety is dismal, international foods are harder to come by, and produce is not well-stocked or good looking. There is a grand farmers' market in Minneapolis, but it's a drive into downtown. Fortunately, smaller markets are popping up including one in our town despite the fairly short season.
We arrived in Minnesota early Sunday afternoon after two days of driving and two nights of miserable lodging. It's hard to imagine making this drive anymore after a dozen years of doing so, twice annually, and it's quite possible this will be our last. Rex's ability to take in oxygen is at its limit as is the machine's ability to provide it. He is slowly suffocating to death. We like to imagine his lungs will finally give out under the influence of morphine and heavy sleep, but one can't know.
His days are filled with an anxiety of breathlessness and jokes mustered around such a condition and a general disposition lighter than one might expect. Every now and then he makes it to his Estonia grand, orchestrating his nimble, digital memory. We cook and although he passes on most lunches, he eagerly takes in dinners under the magical influence of prednisone. We are lucky for his nine to five caregiver, Patsy, whom he listens to as much as she patiently listens to him. The dissolution of age will come for us all, gradually or quite suddenly. It is best to have a plan.
The best indicator of Rex's declining health was the gradual but evident retaking of the trails by plants and fallen timber. Many have become impassable with tangled windfalls and occasional widow-makers, the soft padding of chips disintegrated into soil, the buckthorn and even trillium growing center trail. There was considerable flooding this spring and the smaller marsh became the smaller pond, it's overflow draining underneath this bridge. The rain fell so long and heavy that pond waters rose high enough to float the bridge, dismantling it, and nearly over washing the driveway forty feet beyond. In other words, the woods is a mess and in need of a chainsaw samaritan who will work for cord upon cord of wood. Do you know one in the Twin Cities area? Email me.
The moisture and cool, darkened understory has produced a good crop of mushrooms, like these corals and those below.
Ductifera pululahuana or the White Jelly (Roll)
Last year's unharvested chicken, the ghost chicken.
Right alongside the driveway, growing on a strategically placed, chainsawed oak stool, is this summer's small but wanted chicken.