Sunday, January 17, 2016

Old McDonald Had a Farm(Show)

It’s the annual event that dominates my local newspaper at the beginning of each year, and it’s come around again - it’s farm show time! It’s almost sad that I’ve lived in Pennsylvania nineteen years and only ventured out to Harrisburg for the PA Farm Show for the first time just yesterday.

Having grown up in an extremely rural area, agriculture and farms are familiar territory for me. However, it wasn’t until starting college at UD that I really got up close with the world of agriculture. Cows! Sheep! Chickens! As an animal lover, it’s no surprise that I found each as charming as the last.

So I was looking forward to the farm show for two main reasons: 1) animals and 2) food. If there’s any legacy I’ve heard of the state farm show it’s the menu. The rumor mill about the tempting array of food proved to be true: honey ice cream, pulled pork, battered vegetables, apple dumplings, crabcake sandwiches, milkshakes, roast beef sandwiches - the food court was truly overwhelming. I would be like “Ooh, I’m so getting one of those!” only to turn around and be like, “Oh, but I also want one of those!” and later, “Ugh, but I want one of those too!”. As an inefficient decision maker, it’s kind of a nightmare, but the exhilarating kind. For the record, my food purchases included a tasty roast beef sandwich and some vanilla honey ice cream (which, it turns out, is not honey flavored, by instead infused with honey, as well as topped with it).

I’d like to say I read each and every informative agricultural display and discussed agriculture with in depth with any of the many professionals at hand at the event, but I did not. My real interest lies in the furry participants in the PA farm show. My favorites included the alpacas and the sheep.

Ever since a particularly memorable middle school field trip to both a local alpaca farm and a local sheep farm, I have been rather infatuated with both animals. Alpacas have a certain sophistication that sets them apart from their relatives, llamas, in my opinion. They are smaller, and appear more plush and cuddly. In addition, from the ones I’ve met, they seem pretty docile and easygoing.

Sheep are just adorable. They always seem to be smiling to me, and their wool is so soft and fluffy, it makes me want to just curl up with them. The only negative association I have with sheep, presently, is an unpleasant scenario in which I was tasked with tackling, pinning, and trimming the hooves of a certifiably crazy ewe as part of an animal science lab (the glamours of being a Pre-Veterinary Medicine major). Nevertheless, I hold no grudges against the species as a whole...the sheep manager even admitted that this particular ewe was “the craziest sheep he’s ever met”. Plus, I got to cuddle with the most precious little lamb.
Maybe being a Pre-Vet major has its perks!
So I was quite pleased to observe all of the sheep relaxing in their pens, having been on display all week, with most of the excitement behind them. Alpacas, though not as abundant as the sheep, were dispersed throughout the exhibit halls, munching on hay and promoting their respective farms.

One subject I found interesting that I hadn’t expected to - beekeeping! The apiary section was intriguing to me. Bearing in mind how vital bees are to our ecosystem and their declining numbers, not to mention my uncertain future, I can picture myself keeping a collection of bees and producing my own honey products on a picturesque estate in Pennsylvania.

In fact, strolling through the farm show allowed my mind to wander to its past its limits. I’m currently in an agriculturally based major, so it’s no exaggeration to imagine my life working with some of the animals I admire. Perhaps a sprawling, grassy, sheep farm with a well-trained border collie to keep the flock in line? Or a charming little alpaca farm with a small collection of animals? A functioning apiary churning out quality honey products and combatting the extinction of honeybees? Each has a certain manifestation in my mind’s eye, though I can’t be sure how I would arrive at that stage. Until that mind-blowing epiphany that I’m expecting any day now about what to do with my life, these fantasies will just remain options on my ever-growing list.

Happy to have been part of the 100th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show!

Hugs and Wishes,


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