In celebration of Tu B’Shvat this week, we wanted to share these words about the farm from 2014 Chalutzah, Sophie. Tu B’Shvat celebrates the trees and is a planting holiday in Israel. In her piece, she talks about the greenhouse and garden, and the planting we do at camp.
LIFE ON THE FARM AT RAMAH
Written by Sophie Raskin, Tulsa, OK
If you make the decision to go to the farm during choice period these are the animals you might see there – 2 pigs, 4 sheep, 5-7 chickens and 3 ducks. And very soon there will also be a mother and baby goat. To get to the farm you have to walk along a long winding path past the horse’s barn. Sometimes if you are lucky you will see the horses in the field. You will also see beautiful views of the mountains and the creek as you walk along.
At the farm you will be taking care of both animals and the garden. If you are taking care of the pigs you will see them eating our camp leftover food so we don’t waste any food. They will be fighting over the food and you might even see them standing in the big food bowl. They are really pigs! Sounds crazy but one of their names is actually Kosher! We haven’t named the other pig yet but when you come, the other pig will probably be named.
If you are taking care of the sheep you will clean out their dirty pen. You have to rake the old bedding and hay and fill it with new. When you come their hair will probably be overgrown. Right now its very curly and knotty looking. The sheep all move as a pack, or all together. The male with the horns is the leader of the pack. Make sure not to scare one of them because they will run away. If you want to pet them, move up to them very slowly.
I don’t think the chickens look like regular chickens but I’m not sure how to describe them. The ducks don’t look like ducks either! I’m used to yellow ducks and these are not. Some of them have bald spots on their body because they came from a ranch where the roosters were mean to them. When you get to the farm its fun to check in the chicken coop and see if they laid any eggs. The most eggs we have had in one day are five. We don’t use the eggs for camp breakfast because they don’t lay enough to feed everyone. But we do use them as a special prize at camp. For the group who has the cleanest ohel, they get a special “Rocky Mountain Toast” for breakfast and they will use those eggs to make it.
If you like gardening, we have that too at camp. You can either do it at the farm or at the greenhouse. At the farm we grow all kinds of vegetables like carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and even more. We’ll get to pick them after they’ve grown more. In the greenhouse we are growing micro-greens like lettuce, arugula, spinach and kale. We picked some last week and it was used for our Shabbat salad. We use small containers and fill them with dirt and add compost for a natural fertilizer. We mix it up and then sprinkle the seeds and water them and hope they will grow.
Next to the greenhouse there is an outside garden. Part of it has a spice and herb area where we are growing peppermint, parsley, basil, chive, oregano and many others. There are also two wire above ground baskets to grow potatoes. Being above ground makes it easier for the campers to harvest the potatoes.
If you enjoy reading about the farm you should come and visit it yourself. The staff there are all super nice and will answer any of your questions. Robyn does the farm and she is great working with the animals. Dor is in charge of the garden and he loves working with the plants and he grows many delicious things in the garden. Kirsten helps out where she is needed.