9.30.2005

Going to Visit Our Friends the Goats

One of my favorite places to take my little animal-lover is to Hindinger Farm in Hamden. It’s an easy trip from New Haven, and I can load up on gorgeous, delicious super-fresh local produce while supporting a family farm. His favorite part, though, is grabbing a bag of goat crackers and marching out to the big enclosure to see who’s hungry today. Four female goats keep one another company there, and usually they fall all over themselves – or shove one another out of the way – to avail themselves of the cracker bounty. Every once in a while they’re not hungry, for reasons that even the farmers don’t seem to understand. This either pushes my little one to greater heights of encouragement (there’s nothing like watching your kid croon, “Would you like another one, sweetie?” to a bearded creature with big teeth), or induces him to toss me the bag and go hang out for a while in the toy cars waiting nearby. I lounge on the picnic bench while he drives us to New York, unless it’s been raining, in which case I’ve learned to swoop down and say, “Oops, cars are wet, let’s go inside now.” There’s even a handy Purell dispenser for use after goat feeding.

When we finally manage to drag ourselves away from goats and/or automotive splendor, we head back inside to load up on the latest of what they’re picking. As we head into October, you might still find peaches just this weekend, and corn for probably another week, as well as prune plums, apples, pears, and tomatoes; later in the month the broccoli, cauliflower, and collards will come in. They also head to regional farmers’ markets regularly to fill out their stock with other produce they don’t grow or don’t have in yet. You can get milk and cheese, maple syrup and jams and jellies, and pies and ice cream as well. Last time we went my little guy was thrilled to see baby pumpkins – he remembered getting our Halloween pumpkins there last year, and he’s been asking about them ever since strawberry time. The stand stays open well into the chilly months, with seasonal wreaths available later on. Get on the email list (write to lizzyjerry@aol.com) and they’ll send occasional messages about seasonal changes in hours and about whatever good stuff’s coming up next.

The little guy likes to pick out the ears of corn for me, and he’s learning not to grab more green beans at a time than he can get into the bag without spilling. We tend to pile up our purchases little by little near the cash registers while we explore things together, and the folks who work there are very cheerful and flexible about this. They chat with my kid and ask about him if I don’t bring him along. Before we go we make sure to visit the bees working in a glass-fronted hive next to the jars of local honey. Last time we noticed pollen on some of the bees’ legs. He was surprised, and wondered how the bees could get outside to where the flowers were. (Look just under and behind the hive for the vent pipe we found.)

How to get there from New Haven: Take a left from Dixwell Avenue onto Benham Street (across from a huge construction project involving many satisfying earth-moving vehicles, a little before you get to Hamden High School). Stay on Benham – very hilly -- until you reach Dunbar Hill Road; there'll be a church on your right. Turn right. You’ll pass a small fire station on your left immediately after making the turn. When you reach a stop at a Y-shaped intersection, bear left. Just a bit farther on, the farm, 835 Dunbar Hill Road, (203) 288-0700, will be on your right. Open Tuesday to Friday 9 to 6, Saturday and Sunday 9-5, closed Mondays. Note: closed Tues. Oct. 4 -- they're going to Pennsylvania that day "to get unusual decorations".

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