(Oct. 5, 2013)
Hundreds from around the region went south across the Purdy Bridge Saturday to experience life on a farm on the Key Peninsula Farm Tour.
Visitors to this 23-mile-long finger of land on the South Sound saw cattle dogs herd sheep, pick ears of corn, cut flowers and smile at a farm goat trained to leap over obstacles.
The weather could not have been better: sunny, clear skies with scattered clouds and the temperature hovering around perfect.
“I am so happy for the farmers down the Peninsula,” said Jess Smeall, recreation director for Key Pen Parks, as she carried around white bags of prizes for tour visitors at Gateway Park. “They have worked so hard all year to prepare for today.”
The tour showcased 10 working farms on the Peninsula — an homage to the hearty homesteaders who settled the area. This was their day to put on a show.
Steve Weigley, owner of Packleader Farm, greeted guests from behind a fence that came up to his chest — his dog Herc, an Anatolian shepherd dog, by his feet.
Weigley’s farm off State Route 302 rents out sheep for dog owners training their animals to herd. His wife Barbara Davenport does “instinct training” for novice dogs to gauge their aptitude for this kind of work.
“Not all dogs bred to herd actually want to herd,” Weigley said.
If they do, then this is the place for them.
Jen Rice, of Seattle, worked with her dog Bean in herding geese in one of the smaller pens. The Australian cattle dog with the gray coat listened to her commands as she tried to stay behind the agitated geese.
“That’ll do! Away!,” Rice commands as Bean gets too close to the birds.
“We come here all the time, just about every weekend,” she said. “(Bean) is happy working. She gets to do her job.”
It was a zoo at Bea’s Flowers on Creviston Road as Linda Brewer and a gaggle of helpers put on the finishing touches at their 5-acre flower farm. There were hay bales to build boxes out of for the bunnies. Vegetables to cut for sale. Obstacles for the “stupid goat trick” show to put up.
You could tell they were looking forward to this Saturday. Bea Morrison, the matriarch of this garden, showed a guest her flowers.
The energetic 81-year-old in her black rubber rain boots proudly walked over to the rows of dahlias at the front of the property.
“I love my flowers,” said Morrison, as she gave a plant with cream-colored blooms a loose hug.
Here was a family just doing what they love.
Laughter and excited banter filled the air as guests arrived. Camera phones came out as the farm goat hammed it up. There were smiles all around.
Creviston Valley Farm on the southern end of the Peninsula was one of the main stops of the tour and the only lunch venue.
Musicians performed in the white wooden gazebo that sat in the middle of the expansive grass lawn in front of the farm house. Stalks of corn bordered one end of the lawn. Booths with produce from smaller farms lined another. The aroma of grilling meat wafted across the lawn. Dozens of men, women and children milled around, checking out the tractors.
Down a concrete path, past the chicken coop, is a large red hay barn.
“Oh look Max, cows,” said Christine Roha, pointing out the farm’s livestock.
“You want to see them feed?” Greg Wong asked.
Of course, they would.
Wong owns the farm with his wife Lalaine. The farm has over 20 head of cattle, produces 2,200 eggs a month and the beautiful farm house with a grand front porch is available for vacation rentals.
How did this farm come to be?
“Two words,” Wong said. “Crazy wife.”
The islander from Honolulu, Hawaii, chuckled as he explained that every decision his family makes they vote on. There were five “No” votes on buying the farm and one for it. The one vote won. That was seven years ago.
It all seemed worth it as he watch young Max Roha, 3, pose in front of feeding cows as his grandmother snapped a picture.