Family Farm Field Day

I spent Saturday at the Family Farm Field Day down in Amish country (southern Wayne Co.). Rusty and I have been going, jointly and severally, since about when the thing started. I’ve missed some years because of Madison Early Music Festival, and Rusty missed this past year because of her weed presentation that evening. I’ve noticed a few more “English” over the years, but it’s definitely an Amish event.

The keynote speaker this year was Dr. Arden Anderson. I didn’t actually sit through all the keynote, as it was largely preaching to the choir. But for the first session, I heard Dr. Anderson talk about growing high-brix vegetables. This year, it seemed that speakers were pulling out their refractometers with the vigor of cowboy action shooters pulling out their Colt .45s. (“You can get yours at Keim Lumber in Charm!”- apparently not online though) Dr. Anderson’s presentation was clear and confident, and he looked like somebody who takes his own health advice. Best, he had some very concrete suggestions for creating specific changes in crops through foliar feeding.

After that, I heard Nick Leone’s presentation on the scythe. This was actually the main reason I went. The scythe should actually be appropriate technology for many tasks at Black Water Farm, but my attempts at using my American scythe have not been inspiring thus far. I learned that I had setup and stance problems, and was trying to use too much of the blade. And of course “everyone says” that American-style scythes are crap, and they probably are, but if they were useless there wouldn’t have been so many made, and right now I don’t have $150+ for a Euro-scythe setup. I haven’t worked with it yet; I hope to tonight, but I also need to finish burying an electric line to Buddy’s paddock.

In the afternoon, I heard some presentations by veterinarian Dr. Will Winter on herd care and on 12 new trends in eco-ag. Great poise (even when the generator operating the PA overheated) , great sense of humor, and again, concrete solutions.

Greg Judy I knew was there as well, but I’m not really a grazier and there were other tops more pressing. Apparently Gearld Fry and Dr. Richard Olree were there as well, but not an official part of the program. In other words, it was the biggest collection of eco-ag know-how outside of an ACRES USA convention (which I’ve never managed to attend.) Plus there was homemade ice cream and kettle corn for sale, and cute little boys in bowl cuts and suspenders.

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Cory Doctorow

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