Have you ever lost your job before? How long were you sad? What did you do to get over the sadness?
When I lost the job of my dreams to a Covid spike, I was quite sad.
Being the type of person that some would describe as “neurotic”, I do not do well when I don’t have something to do, so the next few days were awful. I could go on, but that would be boring and sucky.
And so when one of my roommates invited three of us to go to her uncle’s farm in rural Louisiana, I figured it’d be a great way to escape it all for just a little while.
That’s how I find myself writing about bumping down a stony-dirt road with tall, spindly southern pines rising on either side. When we reached the end of a road and arrived at a place that fits your expectation of what a farm would look like exactly- welcome to Holly Creek Farm!
Holly Creek Farm– Day 1
I used to spend my summers on a farm, and so I knew the basics of what I needed to bring and wear to Holly Creek Farm- long, loose pants that you don’t mind getting stained, and the oldest, muddiest boots you own. You can probably guess why.
The farm I was used to living on was non-working, our neighbors cows visited only every once in awhile. But Holly Creek is a working farm, and so when I stepped out of the car, chickens, sheep, turkeys, ducks, dogs, and cows are all just running around together. It was madness and I loved the place instantly.
We met my roommate’s cousin who gave us a quick tour of the farm, spitting animal facts faster than I could keep up with, but here are a couple I do remember:
- A polt is a young turkey, hence, the younger of their two turkeys is named Polt.
- A “brooding hen” is called that when she protects a nest of eggs that isn’t fertilized. If she does that long enough, the eggs rot and then explode- magical
- Cows have a super interesting social circle, I’ll tell you more about that one later
- Ducks are great to have on a farm because they eat lots of bugs that are parasites to other animals
After the tour, we met my roommates aunt, who introduced us to each of the cows they had- Wanda the crazy one, Chichi the old one, Sweetie and Breonna, Big Billy who’s 4 months old, and Little Billy who’s 2 weeks old! Here’s the situation, though. Little billy is Chichi’s calf, but Sweetie has convinced herself that she’s his mom, and has taken to calf-napping him when they’re in pasture! As if it couldn’t get any crazier, just as M was explaining this all to us, Wanda burst through the side of a metal shed like the Kool-aid man.
Obviously, the world of cows is far more complex than I could have ever imagined, and so when we were invited to learn how to milk a cow the next morning, our answer? Absolutely.
We are staying in the guest house of the farm, and it’s got to be the nicest guest house ever. It’s a fully functioning, house, with all the appliances we’ll need to cook and such, and it’s got windows on all sides so we can watch the chickens and sheep just running around. I’m in the loft on a comfy bed piled high with quilts, and so my lizard-ishly low body temperature should be just fine.
When it got dark, my roommates and I realized that we’d probably be able to see the stars here, and so after drenching ourselves in bug spray and setting a bunch of blankets down on the grass, we could see the stars with marvelous clarity. Looking up at the sky, we probably scared the animals, because I know I yelled when we saw a meteor streak across the sky. As our eyes adjusted, you can definitely see a smoky stripe of the milky way. But we had an early wake up call the next morning, and so I went to bed and slept extraordinarily well… until the rooster crowed.
I’ve learned that it’s a myth that roosters only crow when the sun rises. The sun does not tell them what to do, and they crow whenever the hell they feel like it.
Nonetheless, it is an effective wake up call, and so I was up and brewing my coffee at 7am. Just as I had settled down to read, some bleeting joined the crowing. One of my roommates woke up from the noise, and so we put on our boots and went outside to investigate. As it turns out, one of the sheep had gotten lost from the herd, and instead of looking around, it had decided baaaaaaaing as loud as it could was the good and proper way to solve the problem. Not knowing what to do, I tried to offer the little guy some grass, but it didn’t seem to help at all.
Then, it was time to learn to milk a cow! We weren’t actually going to be doing any of the milking ourselves for two reasons. One, it takes a lot of trust between a dairy cow and its person for the process to be successful, and two, it just takes a long time in general. A cow can actually control whether or not it is milked, and so it’s more of a particular process than I thought. Instead, she showed us how to set a bar over the cow’s hips so it couldn’t kick her. I didn’t know that type of equipment existed, but it is a good thing because a kid in my elementary school got one of his kidneys kicked out by a cow, and now he can’t play football. She showed us how to sanitize the area and attach the machinery to the cow, and viola! it was done in like 4 minutes.
By this time, our two other roommates had woken up and so we took some more time to explore the farm, we met the two pigs they’ve got, and then decided to go to the closest town to get coffee and check out the farmers market.
We just so happened to arrive at the farmers market on national farmer’s market day (didn’t know that was a thing), and I got a sick temporary tattoo of a radish. The Ruston farmer’s market is beautiful, it is under a cover and has a lovely mural painted on the inside. While it’s on the more expensive side, the stuff we got was excellent, and all of the farmers were so nice and passionate about their wares. We met one guy in particular who was so excited about jam, and he really cornered the market on peach mixed with any kind of berry jelly.
I had actually forgotten we were in Louisiana for a minute until we were surrounded by drive-thru daiquiri shops on either side. Louisiana is one of the only places on earth where you can get alcohol at a drive thru window, and the way they get around the normal laws is by putting a lid on the cup and not providing straws. All that is to say, we had no choice but to pick up some daiquiris on the way back to the farm, and my orangutan daq (orange, peach, strawberry), was a delightful little treat and a completion of one of my life’s missions.
When we got back to the farm, we were surprised to find fresh bacon and milk in the fridge, along with some farm-fresh veggies! My roommate’s family had been so generous, and we decided to use the food to make an extravagant breakfast the next morning. Real farm-to-table shenanigans.
Thanks to my roommates incredibly generous family, we had some bacon, biscuit mix, potatoes, and bell peppers, plus watermelon and jam from the farmers market. But no breakfastpalooza is complete without eggs, and with hundreds of chickens walking around the farm, we figured it wouldn’t be too tricky to find some.
Asking my roommate’s cousin if we could use a couple of eggs, she helpfully showed us how to find the best ones- aka, ones that were fresh and not lying in the mud. With her help, we found eggs of all colors and sizes, and the cooking began!
I consider myself a master vegetable chopper because I’m too scared to cook anything else, so I got to work on the potatoes and bell peppers for the hash we were going to make. When I was done with that, I decided to do something I had never done before- I was going to… fry bacon!!!!
Cooking meat scares me because the stakes are higher than when you cook anything else. If you undercook a veggie or grain, it’s a little chewy but no harm done. But if you undercook meat, everyone around you gets sick and dies!
Luckily for me, frying bacon is pretty intuitive, you really just have to keep flipping it until its brown on both sides. But that didn’t stop me from panicking about messing it up the entire time.
When we finished our assignments and everything was finally put together, it was time to feast!
It was honestly the nicest spread I’ve ever seen, and if we get a call from the Southern Living magazine about a “best breakfast ever made” award, well, I won’t be too shocked.
After enjoying the best breakfast ever, we all fell into insurmountable food comas, and lazed the rest of the day away.
The next morning, I was feeling much more exploratory, and so were my roommates. We went back into the town of Ruston to walk around the downtown area to shop. Ruston is so cute, cuter than the average small-town downtown. I didn’t end up getting anything but they’ve got an awesome art shop where you can get all sorts of one-of-a-kind art and prints.
When we got back, I started to read but just ended up hanging out with the animals. I love watching the cows just hanging out, and of course, petting the farm dogs is also fun. I don’t have any pets but I love them, and thankfully Buddy doesn’t mind a puppy hug 🙂
Eventually, we decided to go on a hike, but as it turns out, hiking in Louisiana in August is a very draining experience. Lucky for us, just after we got back we also got to go four-wheeling through the property to see the tree-farm section and going past the creek that gave the farm its name.
After getting back, we decided to shake some whole milk until it became butter. I didn’t know that was something that worked, but low and behold, we even made our own butter!
Annnnnnnnnnd that’s pretty much all of it!
This was kind of a vacation for my roommates and I, especially because I had just finished grad school applications, one of my roommates had just finished her internship, and another had a week off between blocks of her grad-school program. I’ve never stayed on a working farm with animals everywhere before, but I thought it was a whole bucket of fun. As a person who tends to get wrapped up in nerves, the lack of connection to the outside world forced me to relax, and it was bliss. We ate a lot, learned a lot about farm animals and farm living, and that’s all I could ever hope for in a trip. special thanks to the folks at Holly Creek Farm for letting us stay! I would highly recommend buying any and all of their farm foods.