Posted by Brandi in Happy Summer: Rhode Island, Road Trip for Kids, What We Ate on August 20, 2014
There is a surprising amount of stuff to do in Rhode Island. I didn’t know what to expect, but a few searches quickly proved that Paisley and I were going to have a jam-packed schedule each afternoon. That’s how we split our day, manage our work time without our beloved nanny — I work mornings while Paisley and Shelton have their get-out-and-play routine, and he works afternoons while she and I go exploring.
We went full country today! I’ve never done a pick-your-own (PYO) farm before and have always wanted to. Blueberries are in high season right now, and every search I’ve done points me to another PYO farm. What a fun, simple way for Paisley and I to get outside and spend money on something that serves us twice — an activity and a snack all in one!
We landed at Dame Farm, which is over a couple of towns in Johnston, RI. Nothing around here is a long drive. The entire state is 48 miles north to south and 37 miles east to west. It’s like driving from Norman to Edmond, or Wichita to El Dorado. Driving across the state feels like a drive across town for the rest of us, which I find adorable.
Our half hour jog landed us in the picturesque scene that is Dame Farm. Oh you guys, it was perfect! A very bright and welcoming entrance took us back to a well organized, well maintained produce farm. Paisley was so excited to get out and start picking that I was chasing after her as soon as her feet hit the gravel. Fortunately they take credit cards, so we weren’t slowed down by a return to town for cash.
The woman working in the shop was polite but direct — here’s your bucket, that’s the orchard, fill it to the top, don’t go anywhere else, “we’ll have cold water for you when you get back.” Paisley hung the plastic Folger’s container around her neck marched out to the blueberry orchard. It was thick, overgrown, and completely bursting with berries!
It took us about half an hour to fill our roughly six-pint container. We barely left a little section of five or six trees and hardly put a dent in the supply. Of course, we plucked a couple off the branches to taste them as fresh as they come. YUM!!! Oh man. I like blueberries in things — a pancake, a muffin, maybe a salad — but never straight. But these? I could have laid under that hot sun and stuffed myself. THIS is what they’re supposed to taste like!
Paisley had so much fun and I really enjoyed some very quiet, dedicated time with her. She took over quickly, commanding me to pick from this branch or that branch. Once in a while she’d spot a really fat one at the top and ask me to lift her up. She was in charge of the bucket and made sure it was always nearby for quick deposits. She also wore out quickly because, let me tell you, blueberry pickin’ isn’t for pansies. I think that counts as our workout today, without all the standing, squatting, stretching, bending, reaching topped off by some very direct sunlight.
The sprawling farm was prepping for fall, and much to the Paisley’s disappointment the abundant pumpkin harvest and yet-to-be-mowed corn maze were off limits.
Back inside, we rounded up a pile of sweet corn, green beans, tomatoes, eggs, and a couple of peaches, all grown right there at Dame. We made quick work of the corn and green beans at dinner tonight, with seared pork medallions topped with our fresh-picked blueberry reduction! Who knows how I’ll tackle six pints of blueberries in the next few days, but I see some hard-earned pie in our future!
Next, we scooted north a bit to Wright’s Dairy Farm in North Smithfield, RI. The two farms were just 30 minutes apart and took us on another spectacular scenic drive. I mean, even the four-year-old in the back is ooing and ahhing over “the woods.” Hypnotic winding canopy-covered roads through thick forests, up hills and down, past shimmering lakes, and all the while the windows down blowing in the breeziest summer breeze — not a bad backdrop for a random Wednesday afternoon.
The smell of this 100-year-old dairy farm greets you before you can see the barns, and Paisley was sure to howl about that long after our arrival. Guests are welcome in the grocery store/bakery shop and in a pretty limited milking viewing area. Other than that, it’s very much a working farm and tourists like me are just going to get in the way. We knew this going in, but Paisley was still bent on seeing the cows and the milking, which takes places every day from 3-5.
We were able to get pretty close to the barn full of heifers waiting to birth. As we stood there watching these mama cows I realized that was the closest I’d ever been to a cow myself. They’re actually quite pretty! Paisley, of course, asked a dozen questions and I answered as best I could. At 3pm on the nose, the milk cows were herded in to the milking barn and Paisley took off on a dead run! We couldn’t go inside, but through pretty large windows we got a front row seat. She watched the woman clean the udders and hook up the machine, watched the milk come sloshing out, and was content to stand there long after every other visitor had wandered away. I was taken by how incredibly clean the space was; makes sense, but it’s a dirty ‘ole farm so you don’t expect it to be spic and span!
Not sure how far we were from home, I bypassed their fresh ice cream, but it looked soooo good. Wright’s bakery is a bustling scene, complete with deli take-a-numbers to control the crowd. Pais and I snagged a couple of cookies and sat by the barn with Madeline for an afternoon snack break.
I’m glad Paisley got a chance to see a little bit more about where her food comes from, and that we got to get a lil bit country together. I don’t know much about a Maine blueberry (yet), but I’m telling you, the ones from Rhode Island are the best I’ve ever had!