Our friends Deborah and Ian have been housesitting a mini-farm in Oregon wine country for the last few weeks, and we boldly invited ourselves out to spend the afternoon with them.
The countryside looked impeccably green today (as it usually does) against the gloomy Oregon sky on our drive. We arrived at the farm around one and drove up a dirt road, at the top of which a herd of pygmy goats, alpaca, donkeys, and a llama stood grazing. A huge fluffy white Great Pyrenees romped and barked around the herd as we approached, and a pretty fox-dog ran and jumped at the driver-side window as we pulled into the gravel driveway.
Deborah and Ian invited us into the house for freshly roasted coffee and we warmed ourselves by the woodstove. Then we booted up for a tour.
The “farm” is located on a section of Soter Vineyard, and is occupied by a couple who are working to transition the vineyard into a bio-dynamic operation. They also have a small CSA, and preservation business called Republic of Jam.
Hoards of chickens (there were about 60, we learned) roamed about, pecking and running underfoot as we followed Ian and Deborah around the yard. We peaked into the kitchen garden next to the house and found garlic and onions buried under dirty oak leaves, and admired the enormous garden plot, which stood in the distance at the bottom of the hill.
Then, the most exciting part of the day happened. We slogged through the barnyard and through a gate into the animal pen. A tiny pygmy Nigerian goat named Ethel pranced over to us, followed by her mother and 10 or so other goats of various sizes and breeds, along with the two soggy grey donkeys. Deborah picked up Ethel and held her, so we naturally wanted to try this out, as well. I picked her up and she nibbled on my hair and nuzzled my face, which was endlessly entertaining and made us want to take all of the goats home. We petted all of the animals and gave everyone a bit of hay. Then we headed inside for lunch: a beautiful loaf of Irish Soda Bread (Deborah is a native of Ireland), slabs of aged cheddar cheese, and a winter squash soup made from squash grown on the farm.
We stayed on the farm until dark, taking a long walk and then sharing some wine together. Then we headed back to Portland, satiated by our afternoon in the country with good friends, good food, and the cutest little goats we’ve ever seen. All in all, this was a lovely way to spend the Winter Solstice.