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Farmer Lise Bouffard
PHOTOS BY PAUL H. WILLIAMS - Devene Martin restraining a stubborn sheep.

Going nuts on Lise Bouffard's animal farm

Paul Williams, Hospitality Jamaica Writer

I met Lise Bouffard in Kingston at a farmers' market. I was talking about the scarcity of macadamia nuts, which I string up to make necklaces.

Macadamia nuts, slightly bigger than marbles, are edible. Delicious, if I may. The surface of the outer shell is brown and glossy, looking edible, but is not.

Though the kernel is quite tasty, I sacrifice them for the glossy shells. "What a waste!?" some people say.

So, when Bouffard told me she has a macadamia nut tree in her yard in Newport, Manchester, my excitement went into overdrive. Finally, I could fulfil the orders for macadamia-nut necklaces and chokas. I promised to pay her a visit.

I went to see her recently, not just for the nuts; I also wanted to see her farm. Bouffard is a farmer who made and sold goat cheese. The Canadian native's family background has been in farming, so the legacy continues.

I wish I were a part of that legacy for, I, too, would have my own farm. I am prepared to grin and bear the scents of the animals, and the sounds that they make. Bouffard and Devene Martin, one of her assistants, have been doing it for years, so why not me?

It was Martin whom I saw first. He went to get Bouffard. She was glad to see me, and proceeded to take me to the farm right away. Before we went into the farming space itself, the three of us stood talking on a back porch.

Then they pointed to a tree saying it was the macadamia nut tree. I had forgotten that it was the main reason for my visit. But the nuts thereon looked bigger than macadamia nuts. And had an odd shape. I told myself that they may be a variety.

But I also realised the pod looks very different from that of the macadamia nut, which is covered with a green coating that makes it looks like a guinep.

There were many of the nuts under the tree, some still in the pods, others not. I took up a few, but was now a little confused. They looked absolutely nothing like the macadamia nuts I know. They have an irregular shape, a rough surface, looking like a brain, and were dull in colour. Not candidates for my necklaces.

The ground under the tree was strewn with them, and whatever they were, I decided to take back some with me, but I wanted to see the animals first. Bouffard and Martin took me to them.

What I saw impressed me. They looked very healthy. Some have names, but the most personable, if I may use such a word to describe animals, were the pigs. They did not ignore us like the rest. In fact, they greeted us, putting their front legs forward, and grunted in anticipation of food.

The strangest are the sheep. They came running from afar when Martin called them using a particular sound. I stood at a spot waiting for them to come through. But they stood their ground when they saw me and Bouffard. As much as Martin egged them on, they would not move, until we moved away. Then they went to a spot where they stood for a while as a group, making a sort a shimmy movement.

I was also shown goats, white turkeys, rabbits (some white, some black and shiny), hens, roosters, ducks, geese, and three peahens, whose story is the most fascinating of them all.

But, in all of the joy of seeing these beautiful creatures, the most memorable sight was that of a raven that stood on a bucket, looking up at a tap expecting water to come from it. When I got close to it to get a shot it did not even budge.

From the animals I went back to the nuts. I felt some energy popping so I got a rake, and went to work gathering the nuts. The more I collected the more I was convinced they were not macadamia nuts. Unless I was the one mixing up the names. Lise suggested that the ones I know were hazel nuts.

On my way to another stop I went browsing, for the confusion was driving me nuts. Google to the rescue. I was right. Bouffards' are walnuts, not macadamia nuts. 

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