Monday, January 15, 2007

Foggy Monday

So I took the day off on Friday and went to the farm show. Not quite as I remembered, but still fun. I spent quite a bit of time checking out the poultry. I wish I had pictures to show, but some people were taking pictures and it was really freaking out already stressed birds, so I didn't. There were hundreds of varieties of chickens. For future chickens there are definitely some varieties I'd like to try. Of course I was also interested in the two varieties that I have (Barred Rocks and Buff Orpingtons) and was a little disturbed by what I saw. Is there such a thing as steroids for chickens? The grand champion and reserve champion Buff Orpingtons were easily three times the size of my girls. They were scary big. And they had big pointy beaks and they must have been old because their combs and wattles and feet were completely washed out, devoid of any color. Or they were taking performance enhancing drugs. Seriously, these chickens were so big that I would be afraid of them. And the roosters! Wow. Very big. Scary big. Look like they could weigh 20 pounds big.

I also spent a good bit of time with the goats. I think I'm not ready this year. Maybe next year. They are very cute but I need to do a lot more research about which kind I want and more about goat husbandry. And this may be a stupid question and I was afraid to ask the goat owners at the farm show. Why would you remove a goat's ears? Lambs too. There were lots and lots of sheep and goats with no ears. This seems cruel and unnecessary to me and also makes them look very strange. Big floppy ears are part of a goats charm. Anybody that knows goats, weigh in and tell me why anybody would do this.

Also of interest at the PA Farm Show was a fair amount of information regarding local food and resources to help you find local food, choose restaurants that feature local food, and the importance of making these choices.

I picked up a brochure for the 16th annual Farming for the Future Conference at Penn State University February 1-3. While I don't intend on becoming a farmer, I would absolutely love to go to this conference. Key Note speakers include Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia and Michael Ableman, author of On Good Land - Autobiography of an Urban Farm. Thursday night you get to attend a local food picnic with Mr. Salatin. And all the meals served throughout the conference are local.

And the classes available sound really awesome:

  • The Art of Cheese

  • Seedsaving

  • Brambles and Ribes: Establishment and Disease Monitoring

  • Gardening in Small Spaces

  • Basic Beekeeping

  • Making the Soil, Pasture, and Animal Health Connection

  • Creating Demand for Local Food

  • Winter Cropping with and without Hoophouses

  • Melons, Heirloom Melons, and more melons!

  • Living Lightly in a Heavy World

  • Living within your local means: Eating year round in your foodshed

  • Food for your soul: Dinner at the farm

And tons and tons more. It would be so interesting. Here is a pdf of the conference brochure. I probably won't go because I would have to take off work. But I'm putting it out there just in case anyone else in the northeast might like to attend.

Coming Soon: My seed list for 2007. I think I've gotten it narrowed down and am ready to make the order.


Blogger Liz said...

There's a breed of goat called LaMancha that have funny, short ears. Could that be what you saw? If not, that's sad and horrifying.

If I lived in PA, I would totally go to that conference. I just finished reading Michael Ableman's other book, "Fields of Plenty"... he traveled all across the US and visited small farms. It had recipes and gorgeous photos, too.

2:17 PM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

Okay, looked up La Mancha. That could have been what I saw. Glad I didn't ask anyone with a condescending tone why they cut off their goat's ears. Those are weird looking goats. Not liking the earless thing.

I would love to go to that conference. But with missing work, and it costs $200, and kenneling dogs for 2 overnights in case husband is away for work, and paying someone to give the cat his shots, and collect eggs and feed chickens.....blah. Maybe I'll look into just one day. Even a little would be awesome. I'll have to check out that "Fields of Plenty" book. I read about him in an article in Mother Earth News a few years ago. They had an aerial photo of his farm and the surrounding insane housing sprawl. It was sad.

2:36 PM  
Blogger El said...

Seems like people in Penna (and Liz's Mainers) are pretty hep. I seriously wonder if Michiganders have a clue. Then I realize it is simply where I live, and there are other, larger, more with-it areas of Michigan: mine just is not one of them, green-living wise. Maybe 15 years behind the times, maybe 20. Ah. I have lots of work ahead of me! (And no competition.)

Seriously, I have never seen an earless goat (or sheep), nor a 20-lb rooster. Something is going on! I guess it's why there are fairs, eh, to eddicate us!

But beekeeping. This is something my husband says he wants to do. And he keeps opining about the end of oil and maybe getting some sheep to do his mowing for him...

3:30 PM  
Blogger Juli said...

That conference sounds fantastic!! I took a beekeeping class and learned SO much. I was planning on setting up a hive this past year but my neighbor put in a swimming pool and I was concerned about the proximity. Bees like/need water, so... another place and time, I suppose.

10:56 PM  
Blogger wurwolf said...

Beekeeping and sheep mowing your lawn.... can anything be better? I would love to go to that conference; everything you listed sounds really great. I don't think I could swing $200, though, especially on such short notice.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

Glad you got to get over to the Farm Show...I always tune in to see the Sheep to Shawl event and the coverage on PCN is pretty good.

I'm no where's near having my seed order ready...maybe this weekend with the snow that they promise....

10:39 PM  

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