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July 10, 2014
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Farm livin’ is the life for me!

At this time of year, "farm livin'" looks even more appealing than usual in the Catskills thanks to autumn colors.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox


Well, in theory, anyhow. Unlike Old MacDonald, I’m not at all sure that I have the stamina to support the desire. I live smack-dab in the middle of farm country and am surrounded by cows, chickens, horses and hay here at Green Acres, and most of my neighbors are farmers. As I traverse the countryside, I often stop to talk to the animals, and they greet me warmly (Dr. Doolittle-style) when I snap a photo or two and (sometimes) let Dharma frolic with her pals. Like me, she adores them all—pigs, alpacas, goats and sheep, and there is no shortage of “Kodak moments” to be found here in the Upper Delaware River Valley. With that in mind (and camera in hand) I set out over the weekend to visit a few of those farms, connect with the folks who put food on our tables and photograph all creatures great and small.

Adding to the bucolic nature of my travels were the amazing fall foliage all around and the spectacular weather we’ve been experiencing, which had my spirits soaring, singing a happy tune and generally loving life. On Saturday, I joined hundreds at Bridle Hill Farms in Jeffersonville, NY (www.bridlehillfarm.com) as proprietors Daniel and Elinor Young opened their doors and hosted an “old fashioned chicken barbeque and barn dance” in support of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 100th anniversary. The dinner was fantastic, and auctioneer Barry Lewis had me in stitches as he made himself horse, raising funds for the organization, in between square dancing and the dessert, provided by the incredibly talented (IMHO) cake artist Kim Simons, (www.cakesbykimsimons.com), who designed a delicious barn that was worthy of photographing (before the masses lined up to taste it).

Feelin’ my oats, I saddled up and made my way to Stonewall Farms (“like” ‘em on Facebook) on Sunday to check out the Sullivan County Horse Council (www.schs-nc.org) 2013 Gymkhana series, featuring female equestrians in a variety of classes and age groups. There I observed “barrel runs” and a display of expertise and showmanship, including the ladies (and horses) decked out in all things pink, supporting the local efforts of the Susan B. Komen “Race for the Cure” cancer awareness drive. I did my best to sound like I knew anything about riding, but I think the girls were onto me, so I snapped a bunch of pics, admired their skills, and headed out to yet another farm, shooting red, green and gold along the way. This one (www.imaginealpacas.com) was right up my alley, as my ongoing love affair with the gentle giants continues to blossom, and I was excited to meet the alpacas and take a tour of the facility with genial hosts Ed and Denise Burkart, who did nothing to dissuade me from wanting a pair of these gorgeous creatures to come home with me and the wonder dog.

Denise spent much of her life in the medical field and keeps the pack animals healthy, with a lab on premises, while Ed (according to him) “shovels s*#t” all day, and “keeps the boys in line.” My visit to the alpaca farm was sparked by it being National Alpaca Farm Days, and the Burkarts hosted events throughout the weekend, including feeding and educational lectures, crafts for the kids, hands-on visits with the animals and demonstrations on fiber spinning and wet and dry felting. I visited the little store on the premises (which is open year ‘round) and picked out something for myself, but succumbed to the dog sweater that Dharma wanted instead. Of course, she got her way, but I have several alpaca farms on my radar, which I plan to visit in the coming weeks and am already putting something aside, so that I too, can be warm and cozy all winter long. Feeling like Old MacDonald was exhilarating, and I’m glad that this little piggy chose to not stay home.

Ee-i-ee-i oh!