Travelling in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the summer is a breathtaking experience. A drive westward on 101 N on a sun filled day through gently rolling farmlands and occasional visits to small stop and go gas and groceries is a relaxing drive, and there is hardly anything I love better, than a road trip.
This trip took us out to meet with Stefaine Barnum and take a tour of her farm. In under two hours we reached our destination, the small, waterfront town of Raymond Washington. We drove slowly through quiet back-roads, where deer crossed quickly in front us and children rode their bicycles with carefree abandon. After a wrong turn or two, we came upon the Barnum’s home.
Stefaine was incredible gracious and opened her farm to us and my little camera for a few hours as she walked us through each area of her farm and home. With just under 7 acres, each area of her tranquil farm is carefully laid out and lovingly maintained. The house is situated away from the animals and the peaceful garden has an area all its own nestled next to the delightful sound of a running creek, which helps to give her crops life.
The garden is a sweet masterpiece of tender care with a buzzing bee hive located in one corner. Throughout the year Stefaine and her family enjoy the plentiful rewards of its harvest; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, fruit trees, cucumbers, green beans, peas, corn, lemon balm, mint, zucchini, cauliflower, pumpkins, cabbage and brussel sprouts because she takes great care in harvesting and putting up her bounty.
Each day, seven days a week, begins at 5 in the morning and here in the Northwest, that is frequently before the sun makes an appearance, She is up, feeds the animals and readies herself for the day. During the school year, she drives a school bus, making sure area children are back and forth to school safely, and then it’s back to work on the farm, picking the garden, tending to the children, and cleaning the chicken, turkey and pig areas.
She lets the hens out to free range, making sure they are back in their tractor by dusk. If you are not familiar with a chicken tractor, they are a must if you are tending to chickens for their eggs. Sometimes called an “ark” it is a movable chicken coop without a floor, allowing chickens to forage freely for grass, weeds and bugs, while laying down fertilizer. The coop is then easily moved to a new location or area of the yard.
A local dairy sells their male calves and the Barnum’s purchase a few to put to pasture. Besides canning and putting up their own fruits and vegetables, they also process their own poultry, fish and wild game. In addition to her already impressive skills, Stefaine is an accomplished hunter and fisher, as is her husband Kelly, and butchering and processing their meat at home is a must. They have a large facility on site and a working smokehouse in the back.
Well, my alarm goes off at 5. I drive school bus, so I have to get things going before I head out. My day ends at dark in the summer, sometimes into the morning if we get busy and need to process animals, etc. I feed all the animals in the morning, just once. Usually feed chickens, let them out to free range, put them away at dusk. But my day is filled with kids, picking the garden, cleaning pigs, or chickens. –Stefaine Barnum
A self sustaining life is rewarding, but not always easy. Small farms exchange and purchase goods and services locally to ensure every one receives a majority of foods and products they need, keeping trips to the local grocer to a minimum. Each family is keenly aware of what is in their food and more importantly, what is not.