An Owl Takes Flight at Heather Ridge Farm
Since Birds of Prey expert Wes Laraway is heading back to Heather Ridge Farm on Saturday, September 28, 2019 for the farm’s annual Harvest Fair Fundraiser, it seems like a perfect time to revisit my favorite evening of the summer. Back in July, while we feasted on Chef Rob Handel’s excellent burgers, we also got to witness the awe-inspiring release of a rehabilitated great horned owl.
Spoiler alert: The owl spreads its wings and soars away into the wild, but the crowd’s oohs and ahhs break into laughter when Farmer John Harrison shouts at the owl, “Now, please stay away from my chicken coops!”
The lavender picnic tables outside the kitchen were filled with guests as Farmer Carol Clement explained how she found the fledgling owl last fall. It had attacked one of her geese, but it wasn’t able to fly. It was weak, dehydrated and starving, so she brought it to Wes of the New York Wildlife Rescue Center. She spoke of someone who had asked her why she hadn’t left the owl to die—after all, it had killed one of her flock.
She smiled as she remembered her reply, “Because I love animals — why else would I be a farmer?”
Carol and John are the best kinds of farmers, and it has been such a gift to get to know them and learn about the hard work they do. I was in the mood for a black bean burger that night (and it was delicious!), but those who opted for the grass-fed beef patty or pastured pork burger could rest assured that their food came from animals that were treated with care. The burgers were smothered in toppings like farm-made cheese, fresh lettuce, juicy tomatoes, maple-bacon marmalade, and Rob’s own lactofermented hot sauce.
For dessert, we devoured the blueberry pavlova tart, a crisp and airy meringue shell filled with pastry cream and topped with Story Farm blueberries.
Then, our little Ramona, who travels with her own art supplies, drew her own colorful version of the great horned owl, who had recently found its freedom.