Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fair Week

We had a fun and busy week at the county fair. It was Ethan's first year in 4-H and he choose to show chickens and sheep. We loved caring for them over the past few months! In addition to animals he also brought a deer feeder, glass etching project and a report about a garden box he made with Grandpa VDB. Amelia and I also brought some items for the open class. Check out our pictures from the week!

Ever wash a chicken? I know it sounds pretty redneck, but it was actually kind of fun. :) Here Ethan is getting his birds washed and ready to show.

Yum, Yum... The sheep ate two signs, a poster and pretty much all the other decorations hanging above their pen. Next year we will skip the decorating. 

These are Ethan's four chickens. We started out with seven, but last Friday three days before bringing them to the fair he forgot to shut the coop door. Two got eaten by coons and the rooster drown in the swimming pool trying to escape the attack. Quite the event to discover right before leaving to have fair projects judged!

Thankfully we were able to bring the other chickens since I ID'ed them all. It ended up working out better. Ethan did well with his birds, the one he's taking out of the pen in this picture won a purple ribbon in a huge class of birds!

 Ethan is on the far right. I thought this was a fun shot showing the age range of kids competing against each other.

Purple ribbon for this bird! Ethan didn't have pen for the next round so he just held her awhile.

Champion in the Mixed Breed Class! The big yellow bird in the back is what won it.

Lucy & Rocky hanging out the night before the show.

Show day was early start, getting both sheep washed and looking good for the judge.

Ethan showing Lucy in the Commercial Ewe Class. He is 4th from the right. He got 3rd place with her. 

I thought this was a cute picture of Ethan walking Rocky to the show ring.

He did awesome and won 1st in his class! He practiced hard learning to set the sheep up for the judge and it payed off, he did great!

Ethan is in the back-middle showing for Grand Champion Market Lamb. He ended up getting 3rd, he did such a great job showing a lamb twice his weight! The winners were the two lambs on the left.

Ethan also participated in showmanship. He did great and got reserve champion! He worked very hard at home and had a great teacher, thanks to Jessica for all your help! (this picture is Ethan talking to the judge)

Thursday night we headed to the Washington Co. fair for a motocross race. This was Elijah's very  first race! He was nervous and didn't want to do it until he walked the track and saw a table full of trophies! :) That changed his mind in a hurry. He did great, kept his bike up and didn't get last. :)

One happy boy! He said he's ready to race again and wants a bigger trophy like Ethan's. 

Everybody came home with a trophy!

Today was the end of our fair. We had an auction this morning and sold Rocky.

One last picture with Rocky before he headed to market. We're going to miss those sheep. :( But,we're so thankful for a fun and successful first year! Thanks to all who helped us out, we learned so much over the past few months and are looking forward to next year.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Charleston, SC Trip - Touristy Stuff

In addition to some great ag tours we had plenty of time to visit some of the local tourist spots. Charleston has tons of history as well as great spots for outdoor fun!

We landed in Charleston about noon and headed to the hotel.

First item of business, EATING! Normally I'm not much for seafood, except when on the coast where its fresh and they know how to make it! Mark is trying a raw oyster for the first time. I was brave and tried one too. They didn't taste as bad as I thought, but I don't like the slimy, chewiness they have, so I don't recommend them. :)  We also had grits, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I bought a grits mix at the market and made it for the kids when we got back. It wasn't a hit. :) 

Our kids would love to have this fountain in Osky!

Our hotel was right by Charlestons famous outdoor market. They had lots of vendors selling all sorts of things from clothes to food and tons of handmade crafts. 

Our first night there was the night of the super moon. I found a place doing a evening/moonlight kayak tour so we signed up. It was the first time we had been kayaking and I loved it! 

My view from the front of the kayak.

A ship wreck we checked out. We also saw dolphins but my pictures weren't very good.

We took this ferry ride to Fort Sumter. 

Fort Sumter is were the opening shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. 

This is Fort Sumter today. It bears only a superficial resemblance to it's original appearance. The once multi-tiered structure was pretty much destroyed during the Civil War. 

Mark and I in front of one of the canons at Fort Sumpter.

We have speed "Bumps", Charleston had speed "Humps". 

Hyman's Seafood Co. was a popular restaurant we ate at. 

Mark another thing of the bucket list for me, I made it to the Atlantic Ocean!

I love the Atlantic, it's warm and not full of seaweed like the Pacific.

A view of the pier we hung out on.

Charleston has many beautiful churches. No building can be taller than the highest church steeple.

Many have very old cemeteries outside.

We also visited the slave museum. It was interesting, with lots of reading. The museum was located in a building where they auctioned off slaves. 

Another thing I liked about Charleston was the architecture. I personally wouldn't want to live this close to my neighbor but I'm glad some people like it. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Charleston SC Trip - Ag Tours

Last week Mark and I had the opportunity to go with 120 other farmers to Charleston South Carolina . It was a wonderful time! We enjoyed making several new friends and seeing how they farm  in the south. This post is our ag tours. I plan to do another with our "touristy" stuff soon. 

Our first stop was two brothers that farmed cotton, peanuts, corn & soybeans together. The picture above is cotton. We asked what it cost to rent land and they said around $35 per acre. They average around 130 bushels of corn per acre and 150 is good. They don't pay much for cash rent however, spraying 10-12 passes on a crop adds up in a hurry! 

This is their cotton picker. Two 750 lb bales of cotton to the acre is their break even crop.

Bert showing us is peanut field. Peanuts is their money maker. They thrive in poorer, sandy soil where the  other crops don't.

A sideways view of the peanut field. These are Virginia peanuts, the kind you roast and eat out of the shell at baseball games, not the peanut butter kind.  

Next farm was Jerry's, he grows 1400 acres of tobacco, which is huge for tobacco! They also have strawberry's, butter beans and several other veggies that they grow and sell at their farm stand. We missed the butter bean harvest by one day. Jerry's wife told us they have people as far away as Florida come to buy butter beans.  

 This is the tobacco flower that gets removed so the plants energy all goes to the leaves. They have crews of migrant workers come in and do this work. Cash rent prices for tobacco fields are higher, up to $125 per acre. Since tobacco is labor intensive and they are always in the field working with large crews of people, landowners charge more for rent.

These are the tobacco harvesters. They make four passes harvesting. They start picking the bottom 25% of the plant leaves, which are the lower quality ones, then the next go around the middle 50%, finally the last top 25% which is the higher quality leaves. 

After the leaves are harvested they dry in these "mobile home" looking boxes.

This is their greenhouse of little tobacco plants.

The dried tobacco leaves have sand on them so they go into a big drum to turn and get cleaned off.

The last farm of the day was a tomato farm. They raise 50 acres of tomatoes! The big thing in tomatoes right now is heirloom tomatoes. They have 74 varieties of  heirloom tomatoes. Mark and I appreciated how each of the farmers we visited thanked the Lord for their farm. Greg especially, he told us how their business has been blessed since they closed on Sundays. Check them out here

Sorting cherry tomatoes after picking. Much of their labor is done by migrant workers. 

They were packaging cherry tomatoes while we where there. 

Fun photo opportunity outside their store. :) Our last stop for the day was the USDA vegetable lab. I didn't get any pictures because we didn't get to see anything they were doing, just heard about their projects in a meeting room.

The next morning we headed to American' s only tea plantation, The Charleston Tea Plantation. We toured the factory and took the trolley for a ride around the tea fields. 

The tea going through the 20 hour plant to package process.

Rows of tea plants. These bushes live up to 600 years and are naturally disease and pest resistant. Deer also don't like the bitter taste of the leaves. They aren't considered organic because they have to use a commercial  fertilizer. It would take 1.5 feet of chicken manure on the ground to get enough nitrogen and they didn't think tourists would enjoy that. :) 

A very slow moving tea picker. This machine was custom made and only goes 1.5 mph. It was fun listen to our group of farmers brainstorm about how they could make it faster and more efficient. They only harvest the top 3 inches of leaves for tea making. 

We enjoyed a picnic under some beautiful old trees. I wish I had these in my yard, although we would probably have more broken arms! :)