~Alto Pass Angus & Eggs~
If I was to choose a Southern Illinois farm to live on/work at, it would be this one. Alice and Brad have some of the most beautiful rolling hills and bluffs in the region. The variety of trees is lavish, and the wind on the high point is exhilarating. Alice showed me around the farm on a breezy Tuesday, and I really understood what she meant when she said that she loves the wind.
Alice and Brad are continuing a family tradition of raising Angus beef. They market hay products, eggs, and chickens. They also raise horses, tend to their fruit trees, and just began beekeeping! They grow some of their own veggies and Alice cans a slew of green beans and pickled okra, among other goodies each year. Last year, at the Union County Fair, she won 6 ribbons for her cooking/canning skills! Alice has a real knack for decorating in the rustic country style, and her home display is no different. She has created a unique marketing plan where she puts together baskets of breakfast items; including her eggs of course, as well as other local products, like juice and pastries. These baskets can either be picked up at the farm, or she will deliver. This is great news for the Southern Illinois Wine Trails’ Bed and Breakfasts, like our friends at La Colina Linda Farm in Cobden. I am proud to say that Alice concocted this fabulous idea while attending the Southern Illinois Farm Beginnings classes with us! She also sells eggs and beef at the new Locally Important Produce Store, and on some weekends at the new Carbondale Community Farmer’s Market.
If you are in the area, I suggest you stop by and see the farm. I never realized it during our classes together, but Alice and Brad are some uber creative folks, I tell ya. They have moveable chicken coops made from old trailer beds and pickup truck beds, as well as a new coop made out of pallets. Their home is an old Holly Park mobile home circa 1968, but they have made additions and topped it off with that country rustic look and it is quite charming! It almost makes we want to lug our trailer to Oklahoma. Alice taught me that you can make a greenhouse from junk items like old swing-sets and futon frames. She was describing to me how she was going to build the greenhouse and it gave me a sense of empowerment. Women can build things too!
We drove around the farm and cattle pasture in the “buggy,” a green Kawasaki Mule, and I was only slightly scared that it would roll down the hill while she opened the gate. We climbed to the top of the hill, that she explained was the 2nd highest point in Alto Pass, and you could see pretty far from up there. It was windy, but the way she fondly described the wind made Oklahoma’s blustery landscape seem not so bad. Because there are so many trees around Alto Pass, the wind gets filtered, almost. Its not a violent, annoying wind, but a strong breeze, and I appreciated it. She also talked about how they wished they could have someone like us live there, up on that hill, and by George, if we hadn’t already made plans for the plains, I would.
There is a certain feeling that we get when we visit some new place. That feeling is lost, however when we chose to eat at chain restaurants that we can find everywhere. One thing I learned as a Geography student was that there is an often overlooked sensory detail that can make an experience more special than the food, or the accompanying guests. That detail is the sense of place, and Alto Pass has got it.
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