Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Weekend Adventures: The PA Farm Show

This past weekend, Ash and I made a trip out to Harrisburg to visit the Pennsylvania Farm Show. I've never attended until this year, I think partially because it's always baffled me that this event takes place in January. With a full week run of the show, each day has different judging events, demonstrations and activities, so it's hard to choose just one day to attend if you want to see it all.

We arrived just in time to see the judging of Black Angus cows. All of the animals were prepped beautifully for judging - they looked like they were covered in velvet rather than fur. Cows always amaze me. I'm used to working with horses, which can weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds, but some of these cows were approaching 1,500 pounds. Being so much shorter and compact than a horse, and not as well trained to be harnessed and led around, that is not an animal I'd want to hang out with if it was having a bad day. We actually saw two pissed off cows - one that was giving a grown man some trouble, and one that nearly dragging a little boy halfway across the judging ring. The kid had sense enough to let go of the lead rope, and after he did, the cow made a couple of leaps through the crowd of participants and cows waiting to be judged before it was caught by somebody. I think that cow was even the winner of the class - maybe it was just excited to celebrate.

After we had enough of the cows, we made our way to the arena where the horses were. Sadly, we'd just missed the Western riding competition, which I would have loved to see. Thanks to my years riding and training with Jill at Tory Hill Farm, I jump at the chance to watch others ride while I silently judge them (in a harsh British accent, no less "That horse is in no shape to be doing that work with that bloody foolish rider..."). We caught a couple of demonstrations during the last couple of minutes of judging, and I can say that their half passes could have used a little work. Those horses were not "straight." But anyway, what we did see was the feed scurry. Belgians and Percherons were attached to a sled and teams - two at a time - competed while driving the sled through a course of cones and loading/unloading bales of straw in a particular order. The fastest team to complete the course was the winner.

After our fill of events, we wandered around to look at all the different exhibition halls of fruits, veggies and animals that were judged at the show. I love that this is what some families do together - raise animals, grow crops, work hard and then show off what they've put their blood, sweat and tears into. I've always admired farm life. I love the smells, the sounds, the hard work. Given the choice, I'd rather come home covered in dirt and physically tired over clean and mentally tired any day. 

Here are some more fun sights from the show:

You'd think these two were best friends, right? A little horn huggin'.

With a name like "Awesome Whisky Girl" you're guaranteed to be the coolest cow around.

How cute is this little pig taking a drink of water? 

His and hers...what a perfect way to ride off into the sunset!
And finally, a fun fact: Did you know that Pennsylvania is the top state in the U.S. when it comes to the number of farms and acreage of land permanently preserved for farming? [1] Pretty cool!

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