Monday, May 21, 2007

My bleatin' neighbors

I've been noticing an intriguing and welcome phenomena in Bucks County of late. It's to do with goats. Yes, goats.

First I should explain that, although I live in a rural area that's easily commutable to both Philly and NYC, there isn't much farming done here any more. In fact many of the old farms have been purchased by wealthy New Yorkers for the most part and they use them as their weekend getaways. (My township historical society is currently on a mission to find photos of Dorothy Parker at her old farm which lies a stone's throw from my house for a book they're doing--it was a humble place rich in the aroma of its Quaker roots then but through the years has metastasized into a multi-million dollar mansion that's hardly recognizable though the grounds are stunning. It's said she wrote Big Blonde there, which is one of my favorite stories of hers.) Of course, there are still some old families here who still own their farms, but they are now the exception to the rule as opposed to the rule. Sad, but true.

One family near us has a sign out that says "Organic chicken, beef and pork." And the township or County gave them a problem about their hanging the shingle for a while instead of giving them a whopping big bloody tax break. It'd surprise me if it was the township because, all in all, they are in favor of preserving rurality and its traditions. Many residents here are not in favor of cookie-cutter development of the kind the Toll Brothers and others like them do throughout the US, which is the erection of McMansions or tract housing. Oh, you can call these places enticing names like "Summer Meadows" or "Pastoral Mews at Bluebell Farm," but they're still McMansions or tract housing at the end of the day. In addition, the damned school taxes always jump horrendously when these houses get built in country areas.

Anyway, back to my goat observations. As I drive through our County I'm seeing more and more herds of goats at some of these farms. And some of the farmers have constructed interesting climbing and play areas for them because goats are intelligent and love to explore. One restaurant in the area also has a herd of goats, right beside their own organic vineyard--and their wine's (red and white) drinkable which might surprise some because we're stuck in Pennsylvania. An old llama and donkey and a flock of guinea fowl and turkeys live there, too. It's wonderful, refreshing, a tonic for the eyes.

I'm very very happy to report it's a growing phenomenon because I'm spotting goats grazing on farms in New Jersey, too. Maybe the Federal government has given these last remaining farms a subsidy to make goat cheese or something, I don't know. But if they have, kudos to the Federal government and the USDA.

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