Years of working as a news reporter has trained me to be completely unafraid of asking someone I barely know if I can come over to their home. This lack of fear and social boundaries seriously paid off a few weeks ago when Jay and I hit the road for a homesteading field trip. And the only thing on my mind was milking goats.
I know a lovely young woman named Lynn who, like me, works in television. She’s a director for the 5 Eyewitness News morning broadcasts. She works early mornings and aside from saying hello in passing, she and I never had much contact at work.
That all changed when she heard through the grapevine that some chickens were coming home to roost at my house.
Lynn sent me an email saying she learned I was adding a flock to my life. And over the course of a few weeks, she told me about her homesteading life. The only natural thing for me to do was to declare that I must come over and see this for myself. As in, this Saturday. With my camera. And my boyfriend. And armed with about eight thousand questions.
Lynn, being an overall delightful person who is clearly used to dealing with pushy reporters, replied with a “yes” and we were on our way.
Brownton, Minnesota is a town of 800 about 60 miles West of Minneapolis. Lynn and her fiance Shane are two of those residents. Lynn has a brutal commute to work every day, but she says there’s no question it’s worth it.
That’s because Lynn and Shane live on a five acre homestead complete with a garden, a barn, chickens and very smiley goats. And Lynn said if we arrived by three in the afternoon, we could get in on the milking action.
Entertaining us for an hour or so on a Saturday afternoon was a serious sacrifice for these two because time’s-a-wasting. When a typical couple is planning to get married the following month, they have lots of little details to take care of. But these two are a totally different story.
That’s because Lynn and Shane are having their wedding on their property. They are renovating the upper level of this barn so they can pledge to spend their lives together inside it.
Below, four goats curiously greet us from their stalls. These lovely ladies are milked twice a day so Lynn can turn their milk into goat cheese. She’s freezing each batch to serve to her guests who will be seated at tables in the yard for the wedding reception. I helped with the milking…although I haven’t quite mastered the double-hand rhythm that Lynn has.
After the goats are good to go, we head outside to search for the chickens. These birds run wild during the day and return to their shelter at dusk.
Just days ago, they were slaughtered. And soon, those birds who roamed free like chickens should, will be cooked by the chef at a local restaurant and plated up for the couple’s first post-wedding dinner. Isn’t that amazing?!
Also on the property is a coop for the laying hens and their handsome rooster. Like Jay and I, Lynn and Shane have an Americauna and a Buff Orpington.
They also have a Barred Rock, but theirs is the man of the house. Seeing the grown version of our teenaged chicks was fascinating. Their rooster hates to be separated from his girls and wasn’t too happy about our visit. While we walked through the run and the coop, he squawked and crowed outside the fence. Clearly, we were in his territory.
We explore some more, wandering past the garden, some grape vines and a black walnut tree. And then it’s into the house for a little goat milk tasting session.
We passed the living room on our way into the kitchen and something caught my eye. An example of Lynn embracing all sides of her. The side that wants to raise her own food and live in the country. And the one that wants to look great in a darn cute outfit. Stacked on top of Country Living magazine was the latest J.Crew catalog. Ahhh, the yin and the yang of life.
Lynn pulled out a mason jar of fresh, raw goat milk and poured some into two glasses. The milk was cold, creamy and slightly tangy.
She unwrapped a mound of creamy, white goat cheese and plated it up. We pulled crumbly chunks off of the plate and popped them into our mouths. It was light but creamy at the same time. The flavor was mild but with a more intense tang than the milk.
Not only do I invite myself over to Lynn and Shane’s house, but once I arrive, I ask to take photos of the inside of their refrigerator. In that moment, it seemed like the right thing to do. It was overflowing with jars of raw milk and cartons of multi-colored eggs. Thinking about it now, I realize I clearly have no shame.
Lynn and Shane sent us on our way with more milk and a dozen precious eggs from their hens. Jay and I drove back to the city feeling nothing but admiration for our new friends.
It’s clear Lynn and Shane have a vision of what they want their life to look like and they are making it happen with every milking session, every long drive to and from work and every nail they pound into that barn. And that’s something they should be very proud of.