Guest Writer: Sally Zalac
Flocks of farm animals rushed to check out the invading interloper at The Smithshyre, as I closed the gate behind me. First to investigate were the canine protectors, one of whom leaned hard against my legs in a bid for attention. Next, Finnish Landrace sheep nudged my hands, begging for ear rubs. Not to be ignored, Nigerian Dwarf goats were close behind, tasting my jacket zipper, and propping on my leg like domestic dogs. An adorable tricolored kid asked to be picked up and snuggled deep into my shoulder, covering my black jacket with goat hair. Even heirloom chickens and young heritage turkeys joined the excitement. It would be difficult to dismiss life’s joyful blessings in the presence of all these happy animals.
Farmer Erin Smith, leader of Kitsap Fresh’s band of merry workers, described his family as the third “European” farmers on this land. Gnarly, ancient fruit trees, lovingly carried cross country by the original Norwegian settlers in the 1890’s, grow strong and bear an abundance of heirloom fruit. Erin’s wife, Roni, nourishes her flocks with homegrown herbs and organic feed, keeping them robust and healthy. The giant “Impressive Maple,” overshadowing a pasture, provides apt roosting space for turkeys in its safe embrace throughout the winter.
In addition to entertainment and companionship, The Smithshyre’s goats provide milk and cheese, though the farm is not a certified dairy – yet. The locally loved Goat Yoga, housed in the circa 1930’s barn, may be returning as we reopen from the pandemic. The sheep provide protein and fleece, turkeys and meat chickens feed the family, and Kitsap Fresh benefits occasionally from an overflow of extra produce and eggs from pasture-raised chickens.
A “Hobbit Nerd” (hence The Smithshyre), Tolkien characters share their names with many of Roni’s furry friends, as well as her new line of soaps. Animal husbandry is practiced to the tune of a constantly humming dehydrator, signaling winter preparation. An additional two plots of The Smithshyre land are worked by other farmers. In their spare time, the Smiths work to incentivize farming and save Kitsap County farmland by helping to organize Kitsap Fresh. The motto “support farming and it will live” drives Erin’s desire to create a “farm incubator.” To learn more about regenerative agriculture, biodynamic farming, and permaculture, never mind enjoying a chance to wear goat hair, schedule a farm tour at your earliest convenience.
Sally Zalac is a valued customer and volunteer for Kitsap Fresh. She has a passion for local farms, organic food and regenerative farming.