The day has come to shear the sheep! We do this one time each year. It is a very long day but we always use it as a teachable moment. On an already busy day we had 10 extra children visiting and learning about sheep and wool. All the robust children made the day even more crazy and fun. Campbell was in her element hosting barn tours of her hay fort and the sheep. Parker was maning the tractor and on the prowl for coyotes, this is his new favorite adventure “Coyote Hunting”.
|The kids play on the hay fort. They were covered in good
clean farm dirt.
|The wool from each sheep weighs around 6-8lbs|
|The sheep go up the ramp and wait in line
for their turn. They average wait time
is about 3-7 minutes.
|This ewe waits to be sheared next. She has done this a few times,
she is a pro!
|This is actually more hard on the person
doing the shearing than the sheep.
|The kids and the dog “Clay” are visiting in the pasture.|
|Did you know that sheep can get a sun burn? Their skin
they do not get a sheep sun burn! Campbell and Parker think
Ohio’s rich soils and innovative agriculturalists have a developed rich tradition of high quality food production. Modern food production systems distribute Ohio’s bounty around the globe, but often consumers right around the corner from some of the richest farmland in the world are left wondering where their food comes from. We combine our culinary talents and love of Ohio agriculture to bring you food fresh from family farms like ours and others from the region. You pick the venue and we specialize in customized private meals featuring fresh and nutritious foods that support the local economy and allow you to enjoy Ohio’s local flavor.
It has been tradition that around our wedding anniversary I ride along with Matt to do his fall themed stories for Ohio’s Country Journal. This usually entails an apple orchard or an agri tourism story finished by visiting one of Ohio’s wineries. This last stop has become a favorite. Those of you who know Matt know that he is very conservative in his spending. It did not take me long to realize that he was looking for a cheap anniversary gift.
This year it seemed our schedules were jammed packed and the children needed to ride along with us. We knew it would be an adventure, maybe more of one than we expected.
Our day began early to get the chores finished and making sure the animals were able to make it through the day with us gone. On a typical day Matt or I, whoever is around, is in the barn several times to make sure everything is OK. We still have bottle lambs so my grandparents agreed to come around noon to feed the lambs and check the animals’ water. Of course, we had to make arrangements for my family to take care of all the animals while we were gone for a few days working at the tree farm. Having livestock really ties you close to home most of the time.
We packed up the car and headed north to The Pine Tree Barn. This was a story about Roger Dush and his family who operate a Christmas tree farm and an extraordinary furniture and gift shop. It is always fun to see how other tree farmers operate their businesses and get ideas we can use on our farm. This gift shop has heirloom furniture, kid’s gifts, home décor, Christmas and even some women’s apparel. It was not exactly the perfect place for our children, but the kiddy train corner entertained them most of the time. The weather was not great, rain and cold temperatures were not ideal but, the kids did not seem to mind. They sat on the tractors and rode on the farm caboose. They also have a restaurant, The Granary, which looked a little too nice for my now dirty children. Roger assured us it would be fine so we decided to dine.
We sat down and Parker opened up his menu and he spilled the water all over the table. I thought I had it cleaned up without any of the patrons or employees noticing, but they did and came right over to help me with the clean up. This spill was not too bad. They even brought gold fish for the kids while we were waiting on Matt to join us. We ordered our food which was delish and almost escaped the restaurant without another scene. The check had been paid and we were about to leave. Parker was standing on the bench beside me giving me a big hug. I picked him up and his foot brushed the Hot Chocolate s on the table. One cup hit the other and we had dueling cups of spilling hot cocoa. There was nothing I could do to cover up this mess and it was a mess. All I could do was gracefully flag down the waitress, leave a hefty tip and exit the restaurant as fast as we could. Our waitress was so kind and politely said she had it under control.
The next spot on the tour of NE Ohio was Moreland Fruit farm. The weather was still rainy and chilly but we decided to brave the elements and hit the apple orchard. What damage could my children do out there? We picked apples and they said that whatever you eat in the orchard is FREE. The kids each enjoyed an apple they picked for dessert. They had fun and were running all over getting out all that extra energy. While Matt was still talking and taking photos, we decided to see if there was anything we could do to be of help. There were two Amish girls working in the back filling orders. They gave us jobs and the kids had so much fun. One of the girls was particularly beautiful and Parker must have taken notice. He went outside plucked a flower from the garden and gave it to her. After I explained we do not pick peoples’ flowers, I reassured him that it was a very kind act and pretty darn cute. This was the only cute thing he did on this trip. After a cider tasting, we hopped back in the car with hopes of the children taking naps on the hour drive up to Canton.
We were headed to Gervasi Vineyard and this was the stop I was most looking forward to. We pull in the drive and the wrought iron detailed sign was a preview of what we were to see. It was like we pulled into Italy and the infrastructure was more than impressive. Parker was just drifting off and Campbell was wide awake. We drove past at least 4 buildings including the carriage house and the market place and then were told to drive around the large body of water to meet the owner. At this point I told Matt we would wait in the car until the weather got better and he is ready to tour the grounds.
This is the part when my cute little son turned into some other child I have never met before. He cried and was blatantly defiant for a good 15 minutes. If I asked him to not put the keys in the car 10 times it was 20. He pushed all the buttons, bit his sister, hit and was just plain B-A-D. Of course at this point Campbell had to go to the bathroom. There was no place to go, the building was under construction and I did not think letting her go outside was the proper Winery etiquette. I told her she was going to have to go in one of Parker’s diapers. She was obviously concerned, but she really had to go. I was just mortified and praying that Matt would hurry up this visit so we could leave. With the flashers blinking and screaming that could be heard outside the car doors, I was at my wit’s end. I just wanted to put in ear plugs and take a nap. Matt comes out to find me frazzled and exhausted. He asked me if I wanted to go check out the buildings and I said NO let’s get of out here. We left and I never got to experience the inside of Gervasi, but I saw pictures and it looks incredible.
I wish I could tell you our journey was over but we still had a 2.5 hour car ride to the tree farm in Findlay. It was a long ride full of Parker unbuckling his car seat every 30 seconds and terrorizing his sister. As soon as we arrived at Cracker Barrel to meet Matt’s parents (Mama and Papa) Parker turned on his Reese charm and acted as if he had been a perfect little man all day. Campbell behaved excellent and I was so proud of her for being a big girl. This was a wedding anniversary trip I will soon not forget. Next time I think we may leave the children at home.
This year Campbell picked a Horse and Cowgirl themed party. Although only 4 she was quite specific as to what she wanted at her party. She wanted “Chipper” Aunt Jessie’s horse to give rides to all her friends, a hay house and hay rides. Living in the country none of these were out of the question. While it may have seemed extreme to some of our more urban friends this was a very cost effective party.
|This balloon wreath was easy to make
and can be reused.
|This is Parker riding on Chipper. He does a good job for being
two. He likes to go fast.
|The old water trough is not used as a
serving table for our pasture dinners
and parties, very useful!
|The kids are getting ready to eat dinner.
This table was made by my grandpa and I
out of old wood from our barn.
|Campbell is getting a taste of the frosting. She said it was good!|
|Looks like these ladies had a fun hayride.|
|Anna climbs out of the hay house army style.|
|This is most of the group. This is us taking off.
I hope they all made it back.
|Campbell during dinner…serious I
am sure she is reflecting on her party.
|We had a boot pinata. This was a hit!|
|The ice cream cone made quite a mess but we
had to make sure all the kids went home
as sticky as possible.
|We served cake pops and we used them in a
pair of old boots to serve as the center piece.
|My aunt took this fun photo of the hayride through the barn door.|
This is a great read that was published in the Buckeye Farm News.
Three Ohio farm women who are Farm Bureau members are working to bridge the disconnect between consumers and their food by sharing their personal experiences through a new program called CommonGround.
“As a mother myself, I understand their concerns,” said Rachel Heimerl, a CommonGround volunteer from Licking County. “CommonGround is all about trying to rebuild the confidence in our food system. To do that, we are working to show the commonalities between real farm families and consumers who benefit from all that farmers grow – to show there is, in fact, CommonGround.”
While it started as a national program, CommonGround is coordinated state-by-state. Ohio has now joined this movement and recently held a kickoff dinner Aug. 11 at the historic Amelita Mirolo Barn in Upper Arlington.
“The best thing about the CommonGround program is that it involves real farm women connecting with other women to talk about any questions and concerns that they may have about food,” said Kristin Reese, a CommonGround volunteer from Fairfield County.Local business and community women leaders were invited to the dinner to have conversations about food and farming while enjoying a delicious meal of locally-produced foods. Topics discussed during the event included everything from when crops are harvested in Ohio and the importance of healthy eating to the size of farms and food safety.
“This was an excellent opportunity to link these wonderful farm women with suburban consumers,” said Mary Ann Krauss, Upper Arlington City Council vice president. “I really enjoyed the evening and look forward to hearing more about the ladies’ activities throughout the state.”
All CommonGround spokeswomen are volunteers who are passionate about agriculture and want to set the record straight about the facts about farming and food. In every state, including Ohio, there is a diverse mix of farmers represented. The program was developed by the United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association.
“Throughout all of the CommonGround states, we have volunteers that have thousands of acres and some that have less than one hundred acres,” said Gretchen Mossbarger, a CommonGround volunteer from Ross County. “We have volunteers who raise animals, some that grow vegetables and others that grow corn and soybeans. We have volunteers that grow organic crops and those that do not. CommonGround is a program that seeks to bridge the gap between the farmers and the people that buy food. To do this effectively, we have to be open and real with the people we meet. We just tell them our own stories.”
The CommonGround program has been launched in five states and is moving forward in six others. Those states include Colorado, Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Ohio. The movement will continue to grow and expand nationwide.
“The best thing about the CommonGround program is that it involves real farm women connecting with other women to talk about any questions and concerns that they may have about food,” said Kristin Reese, a CommonGround volunteer from Fairfield County. “We are not advocating that people buy a certain kind of product. Our purpose is to introduce people to farmers and make sure they have good, straightforward answers to their food questions so that they can make informed decisions about their food choices and feel good about those choices.”
Learn more at www.FindOurCommonGround.com.
Due to my job, I have a very nontraditional schedule that is never the same two days in a row. I have tried my best to be with my children as much as possible call me crazy but I do not want to miss out on anything. I am so fortunate to be able to be arrange things to be with them most days for at least part or all of the day. This means I work a lot of weekend and evenings but to me it is worth it. It made me sad to think Campbell is old enough to go to her class, listen and behave like a little lady, or at least I hope that is how she acts.
I think going to Pre-School was more of a big deal for mom and dad than it was for Campbell. She is independent and I think she really enjoys a change of scenery and meeting new people. She has been telling us about her little classmates and has enjoyed all this chocolate milk she has been getting at snack time. Apparently they give them a white milk or chocolate milk option and what 3 year old would not pick chocolate. We do not drink much chocolate milk in our house. This prompted our first talk about making wise healthful decisions when it comes to food and drinks. She told me she will go for the white milk this week.
Matt and I just celebrated 9 years of marriage yesterday. Nothing says Happy Anniversary like a batch of new baby chicks. Last evening we were preparing for the chicks arrival, hooking up heat lamps disinfecting water and feeders and the kids of course were there to lend a helping hand. We were supposed to have soccer practice but it rained so we took advantage of some extra time at home. We had chili, cornbread and miscellaneous leftovers. Then, we finished preparing for the chicks. This is the real story about where your food (or at least your chicken) may come from.
They are packed into compartments dividing the box into four parts. Their body heat keeps them warm enough while being shipped and the compartments keep them from all piling up on top of each other.
We bring them back to their pen, which looks small because they do not need much space when they are this little. We have two heat lamps on them and we have them surrounded with straw to avoid wind or any drafts. They have water and full feed from now until they are ready to be processed.
We keep our chickens in our barn in an open air cage with natural light and airflow. We do not keep our chickens outside due to predator and health issues and this allows us to raise birds almost all year round. They are fed an antibiotic-free all natural ground feed made from corn and soybeans. We use saw dust shavings for their bedding and change it on a very regular basis to eliminate any possible diseases and keep our birds looking happy and healthy.
These birds are raised for meat. They have a conversion ratio of 1:1 so 1 pound of food to 1 pound of weight gain. These birds have a more heavy body build than a layer (breeding chicken that lays eggs) so they will not run around fast, jump or roost after week 5. They are very happy to sit by the food and water, walk around a bit and then eat and drink more.
Right now, the chicks weigh a few ounces and are cute little fluffy chicks. In about 1 week this will all begin to change. We will keep you posted on their growth, but soon they will begin to lose their cute fluff and get their white adult feathers. Once they are fully feathered we will not have to worry so much about keeping them warm as their feathers will do the job. We will keep a light on them at night to make sure they can see to eat and drink all through the night.
Are these chickens any different than what you find in your grocery store? Our customers will tell you they are very tasty, but we raise a very small amount of birds and make very little money doing so. Volume is the only way to run a viable, profitable business and Ohio is home to many larger family farms that raise thousands of chickens. We are all following the same standards of care and a very similar process. In fact, larger farms have to follow much more stringent inspections and safety standards.
We have a much smaller set up and obviously do not have the facility to raise near the quantity of birds as the larger farmers. Just because some family farms do this on a much grander scale does not make them bad. In fact the way they raise their animals actually makes our food very affordable and extremely safe. The bottom line is that we need farms of all sizes and we consumers should be allowed a choice of where our food comes from.
“One week ago today I got a call from my mom who said Granny Root has passed away. Grandma Root was born on October 2, 1922. She grew up in Pickerington, on a farm and was raised with rural roots. Granny was a suborn, simple, hard working and a very detail oriented woman. She was one who could lay you out if she thought you were not acting as you should, or could make you feel like the most special person in the world and then remind you that you better behave. I was not as close with Granny Root in my early years as I was once I had children. I can remember her having several surgeries and she stayed at our house while she was recooperating. My mom would take care of her and she would tell all of us kids what to do and how to do it. If I remember correctly she told my mom how to do things too. It was this one of a kind attitude we will all remember.
Granny had a love of children and especially babies. When we told her we were expecting our first child she told us we had made a big mistake and we should “send it back”. I of course let it slide right off my back because I knew that was how Granny was. Once Campbell arrived I think Granny was at our house everyday telling me how to do things the correct way. Campbell was so loved by Granny Root it was ridiculous. She told everyone that that baby girl needed her and she had to make sure she was OK. Granny was so helpful with Campbell and never minded holding that baby while we got work done. When we told her we were having child two I really do not remember what she said, but of course she loved Parker as much as Campbell. Granny told all her friends she had to “babysit” all the time and once the kids got a little older she played hard with those kids. Campbell and Parker love her so much it was part of our routine that she would come to visit or ride along with us.
A few months after Parker was born Granny’s health began to decline. We started to see her everyday and this continued on for a good part of the next year. We would get Granny for play dates and took great care of her while we noticed her mental and physical health was not at her best. Even though Granny was not physically able to do what she used to, she never lost her Granny touch. She would tell me how to fold my laundry, tell me when my mini blinds needed to be cleaned, tell me when to cut the kids nails and tell me my children needed more of this or that. She sure was bossy but was always looking out for me and making sure her GREAT Grand kids were taken care of. She could drive you nuts at times but one thing was for sure she loved my children.
At the end Granny moved into a nursing home after breaking her hip. Campbell and Parker wanted to visit her everyday. Granny was not only their Great Grandma but one of their best friends. Before Granny declined I had her record one of those Hallmark books, it is an amazing treasure we will have forever.
I am not an emotional person normally, I have a pretty good outlook on life. Granny loved the Lord and I have no doubts she is in heaven celebrating with Grandpa. This past week has generated many questions from Campbell about where you go when you die. Although Granny will be missed it has allowed Campbell to begin to see the big picture in life. I hope that through Granny Root Campbell and Parker will begin to see how precious life is and although death is sad there is much more to life than this physical earth.
When were were having the calling hours at the funeral home, Campbell, Parker and Aunt Jessie went outside so the kids could let loose a little. They were not outside long when Campell told Aunt Jessie “God and Granny sure are making it hot down here”. This is Campell’s take on the big picture, kids will make you laugh no matter what is going on.