Saturday morning I headed down to Sherman, Illinois, about an hour’s drive to check out the James Family Farm. A few weeks back, I found the farm’s listing on eatwild.com and emailed Andrea James, who runs the farm, to arrange a visit.
The farm is quite close to I-55, so it’s easy to get to. There is a gravel road that connects it to one of the main roads.
I pulled up to the front gate at a little past 9am. It was still closed. But even from there I could see some of the animals and I jumped out of my car to take a couple of pictures.
I called and left a message, saying I would be back and found a nice diner a couple miles south toward Springfield.
I returned forty minutes later to find the gate open. I wasn’t quite sure if I should go up to the house or to the barn. I saw a couple of kids out back and another by the barn. As I approached the house, I saw Andrea James returning from the barn with two large metal jugs filled with goat milk. Two of her kids and baby goat in tow.
I came inside and sat in her kitchen and we talked a bit. The house was just beautiful inside. The entire first floor was one room with large windows in every direction. Because the house sits in the middle of the property, you can keep an eye on the cattle no matter where they are grazing.
As I waited for one of Andrea’s sons to fetch some eggs for me, we talked about her goat milk (she gave me a taste of the fresh raw milk she had just collected), Polyface Farm (the grass fed farm featured in Omnivore’s Dilemma), local farming websites (she prefers local harvest because she can update her details whenever she wants). When the eggs arrived, I gave her a couple of cartons to recycle and she filled them up with eggs laid that morning. Some of them were so large that she had trouble getting the carton closed.
We talked a little about what meats would be available and when. The first animal to come into season would be the chickens. The first batch of broilers would be ready Memorial Day weekend, so I reserved two. I grabbed my eggs and headed out. I asked if I could take a few pictures of the farm and you can see some of them below.
When I got home, I washed off a couple of eggs and prepared to cook them. Look at those fabulous orange yolks:
The sad thing is, now that I’m more familiar with local harvest, I may only return once to pick up my broilers in May. I hope not. It’s a beautiful place, the kind of farm that fits the fantasy imagine you have when you are a kid–where the animals are well cared for and the land feels alive.