Tuesday, August 21, 2012

And the winner is ...

The Farm Crawl was a great success, according to everyone who voiced an opinion, from attendees to the farmers. And the farmers all agreed that it would now be remembered as the First Annual Farm Crawl! We'll post details right here as plans start to take shape for the 2013 Farm Crawl. If you want to stay informed as we make plans, you can sign up for the RSS feed or subscribe by email.

Visitors to the Farm Crawl had the opportunity to sign up for a drawing to win a gift basket of homegrown goodies worth $50 if they visited all four farms and had their passport punched at each one. Pam of Lemont was the winner and was contacted by email to let her know that she'll soon be receiving alpaca socks, goat milk soap, herbal salve, and a jar of local honey!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Visit all four farms for a chance to win

If you visit all four farms, you could win a gift basket of homegrown goodies worth $50!

A passport will be available at whatever farm you visit first. Be sure to have each farm punch the passport to show that you visited. When you visit the last farm, put it in the box that is provided, and you'll be entered into the drawing. If you win, you'll receive a gift from each farm, including a pair of alpaca socks, a jar of herbal salve, two bars of goat milk soap, and a gift certificate for $10 of fresh produce.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Meet the farmers at M2A Farm

When did you move to your farm?

My husband Ron and I moved here with my mother Lydia in early spring 2003. When Mom saw this place, she said if she could spend one night here, she could die happy. She lived here two and a half years and enjoyed every minute, even learning how to drive a golf cart and watching in awe as our first alpaca was born.

What was the first thing you did, garden or livestock, and why?

We began with livestock because the county reassessed us as "residential" from "agriculture". We have them to thank for our name, M2A Farm. They said, "You're not a farm." So, we got alpacas and told them, "Am TOO a farm!" There are two of us and our last name begins with the letter "M".

What are you most looking forward to sharing on the farm crawl?

Meeting new people and sharing our experiences and our animals. We have some rather novel ideas - no cost/no maintenance nestboxes for our chickens and wall-to-wall "carpeting" in the alpaca barns. Sounds crazy, but it works.

What do visitors tend to enjoy the most on your farm?

Meeting our animals and having a good time.

What are your plans for the future?

We'd like to rearrange our lives so we can spend more time enjoying our farm. I'm learning to spin and exploring new outlets for our wonderful alpaca fiber.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A virtual visit to Eden's Harvest

by Janet at Eden's Harvest Farm 

Along with everyone here in Central Illinois, we are coping with the high temperatures and drought. (I'll just look at this picture when it's 20 below this winter.)

Tom Turkey with 4 of his five hens. They provide turkey eggs that we sell to Chicago restaurants.

Our alpaca, Sugar, delivered a healthy cria (baby alpaca) on July 1st. Her name is Sweetie. On May 21 nineteen alpacas were sheared. There will be raw fleece for sale along with some rovings for spinning.

We are currently harvesting juicy peaches and sweet apples from our small family orchard. This past Saturday we canned peach jam and peach chutney.

Ricky Ricardo, our banty rooster with his hens, Princess and the brood. They are a delight to watch free ranging across the yard.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Meet the farmers at Eden's Harvest

When did you move to your farm? 


What was the first thing you did, garden or livestock, and why? 

Garden, but with moving in April, homeschooling and trying to unpack, and having lots of friends and family visiting . . . we had such healthy weeds that I created a maze for my 5 year old to go through. When we burned the "forest" of weeds, the volunteer fire department came out.

What are you most looking forward to sharing on the farm crawl? 

 The great fresh veggies that we have to offer and a visit with the animals, chickens and turkeys that provide fresh eggs and alpacas that provide wonderful fleece and beautiful personalities.

What do visitors tend to enjoy the most on your farm? 

 The open space and country quiet, the "slow it down" mode.

What are your plans for the future? 

Keep growing healthy fresh veggies and hopefully canning, drying and freezing fruit and vegetables grown on our farm.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We're getting close.  Only a month until the Farm Crawl!  We're working on getting things ready and one of the things we've done is order signs to place on the roads and corners along the way to direct you to our farms.  This is mine.  They are all identical, other than the farm names, so it will be easy for you know where to go :)

Cheryl Zacek
Farmer in Odell

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meet the farmers at The Farmer in Odell

When did you move to your farm?

We moved to our farm In October of 1998.

What was the first thing you did, garden or livestock, and why?

The first thing we did is get some animals - a turkey, a pair of bantams, two rabbits from a fair in early spring. Then we ordered ducklings and goslings and brooded them in the basement. The garden came very shortly after that.

What are you most looking forward to sharing on the farm crawl?

I'm looking forward to showing people how homesteading is possible even on very small acreage. We only have 1.5 acres.

What do visitors tend to enjoy the most on your farm?

Visitors most enjoy the variety of animals here. And, especially, the peacock.

What are your plans for the future? 

Our plans for the future are to sell extra goats and pigs. We're always trying to be as efficient as possible with garden space. Cram as much food into as little space as possible.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Meet the farmers at Antiquity Oaks

When did you move to your farm? 

We moved here in April 2002 from Joliet.

What was the first thing you did -- garden or livestock, and why? 

We bought livestock immediately because it was April, so it was a little early to start a garden, or so we thought because back then we had never planted things like peas, which can be planted in April. We bought our first chicks when we were still living in Joliet because I learned that they needed to be inside under a heat lamp for the first month or two, so I figured I'd get started a month before moving out here so that we could get eggs a month earlier!

What are you most looking forward to sharing on the farm crawl? 

I just really enjoy talking to people about the animals. I'm also a big history buff, and I like talking about farming in this country before World War II, which was when everything became industrialized. I'm not saying that everything our great grandparents did was perfect, but they had a lot of things right!

What do visitors tend to enjoy the most on your farm? 

If we have any baby animals, that always wins! And there is a chance that we'll have some newborn baby goats. We bred one of our does for mid-August kidding, so we'll see!

What are your plans for the future?

With our youngest daughter and number one milkmaid heading to the University of Illinois this fall, we will be cutting back on the animals we have, although we are having a terrible time deciding what to eliminate because we really enjoy everything that we do, and we love all of the animals. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day for us to do everything without more humans.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Peafowl at Farmer in Odell

Mama Peahen in my Earthbox
 Last week when the children and I came home from town, this was what we saw.  Mama Peahen laying in my Earthbox.  Right next to the driveway near the house.  I was upset for 2 reasons.  One - I have carrots planted in that box and she dug half of them up or was crushing them.  Two - this is a pretty dumb place to have a nest.  Seriously.  Three years ago our original peahen was killed by a coyote when she had her nest hidden in a small area surrounded by weeds and trees.  Here out in the open, she's a sitting duck.  Or peahen, since that is what she is.  I practically had to pick her up to get her out.  There was a large depression in the middle of the box, indicating she had dug out a nice nest-like area, in her opinion.  (And all but 2 of the carrots.) And after I left the area to go inside, she hopped right back in.  Grrr!

I went in the house grumbling about her actions and my oldest son said she'd been there a couple of hours earlier when he came home from work and wouldn't move.  It seemed obvious to me that she was serious about this location, dumb as it was.  The children went out to play and I cooked dinner.

When I went out after dinner, she wasn't there.  And she hasn't been back since.  Apparently she IS smart enough to realize putting her nest in the middle of our daily activities was a poor choice.  Of course, now I don't know where she's nesting.  It's not that it would be hard to find on our little place.  I just haven't looked.  Normally, one day in mid-summer, we realize we haven't seen her in a few days or so.  Then about the time we figure she's been eaten, she appears with two little chicks.  With the unusually early spring this year, she seems to be getting an early start.  Hopefully, by August 18, we'll have 2 new peafowl babies following their mama around for all our farm crawl attendees to see.  Last year she hatched 2 and she did the same the year before.  Actually, the older "babies" may be mature enough to lay eggs, too.  If so, we could have 4.  That would be fun to see!

Cheryl Zacek
Farmer in Odell

Papa Peacock - or Caesar as my husband calls him.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Plans taking shape for first farm crawl!

Alpacas at Eden's Harvest Farm
What's a farm crawl? It's a chance for you to spend a day in the country visiting a variety of small, family farms on a single day. All of the farms are in the vicinity of Odell, Dwight, and Cornell, off I-55 about 40 minutes south of the I-80 exchange at Joliet. You'll be able to see a variety of livestock and buy locally grown products directly from the farmers who grow them!

A Shetland ewe and her lamb
at Antiquity Oaks
Come visit us from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, August 18, 2012. Visitors to the various farms will be able to see --
  • alpacas 
  • peafowl 
  • chickens 
  • turkeys 
  • ducks 
  • geese 
  • sheep 
  • goats
  • rabbits 
  • cows 
  • pigs 
  • donkeys 
  • and even Patagonian maras!
And of course, there will be friendly barn cats and livestock guardian dogs of various breeds!

As of today, the participating farms will be selling --
  • fresh, natural produce, including heirlooms
  • eggs
  • alpaca fiber
  • llama fiber
  • wool roving and raw wool
  • yarn
  • goat milk soap
  • lambskins
  • bath and body products
  • herbal products
  • clothing made with wool or alpaca
  • handmade crafts
Participating farms will accept cash or credit cards.

Please be aware that these are real working farms, not petting zoos or parks, so children need to be supervised at all times. And as excited as we are about meeting you and your family, we ask that you leave pets at home.

An American Guinea Hog at Farmer In Odell

Check back soon for updates or sign up to receive email updates by using the widget in the right-hand column. We'll be giving you information on the various farms, their animals, and their products every week or so as the farm crawl approaches.