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roomJUNE 2012 7

8 roomJUNE 2012 My dad is a farmer, but he's never worn overalls a day in his life (that I'm aware of). He drives a truck, has a dog (that does hunt), and raises hundreds of acres of that 7-foot tall corn a University of Iowa journalism professor referred to in a recent controversial column about our great state. My dad says he's never once heard that corn make a "pop-pop-popping" sound as it grows, by the way. From my parents' living room window, you can see both the grain elevator and the church steeple in town, five miles south. And he's never once called me or any of my siblings "Bud."What I'm saying is that - while we're not hicks from the sticks - I've never once thought of my family as hip or cutting edge, but it's become clear to me later in life that back in the 1970s and '80s, we were just that. We were simply a few decades ahead of our time.Every spring, my parents would buy dozens of baby chickens and we'd raise them in the barn. The fuzzy little creatures would live under heat lamps for the first couple weeks of their life, and one of our daily chores was to climb into the pen and feed and water them.I remember not liking this chore very much as the chickens got older because some of them would peck at my legs. It didn't hurt, it just wasn't that pleasant - and being in the pen sure didn't smell very good.Then, on what always seemed like the hottest, most humid day in July, my grandma would bring her white enamel bowls and butcher knives out to the farm and we'd "clean chickens." This was an all-day project that involved the whole family and was dirty, smelly work. But afterward, we'd have a freezer full of farm-raised chickens to enjoy until the next summer. And I can tell you that I've never eaten better-tasting chicken in my life - so I truly understand what many farmers, chefs and foodies today are saying about the local food movement: The closer you are to where the food you're eating was grown, the better it tastes.As I look at the photos from Salt Fork Farms (p. 38), I'm reminded of this summer ritual of my childhood. Eric and Eve Mezel raise chickens and organic produce on their small farm near Solon, which supplies local ingredients to several Iowa City restaurants and members of their own CSA. I can't help but think little Milo, who helps tend to the chickens, will feel the same way I do when he grows up.EditorTricia BrownContributing writerskaThy weissjudy TerryPhotographersreggie MorrowBenjaMin roBerTsdavid scrivnerDesignerreBecca skalskyTo place an ad:319-887-5436To recommend a spectacular or unique home to be featured in room, send an e-mail to magazines@press-citizen.comContent is the sole and exclusive property of the Iowa City Press-Citizen and cannot be used without its written permission.© 2012 Iowa City Press-CitizenMoving? To continue to receive room at your new address, send an e-mail with your name and old and new addresses to so we can update our mailing list.Editor's Letterideas and inspiration from area homes