So far, 2017 has been filled with many excitements. It started out with the 101st Pa Sate Farm Show! For my family, Farm Show is a huge deal considering that we are there every day from early morning to late at night for the whole week. Each day consists of something new. My family’s business, Blue Mountain Farms, actually has a booth there selling some of our wonderful products from our farm. So, our week starts on Thursday when we set up our booth.
On Friday, that rabbit show takes place. At the rabbit show, there were over 1,000 animals and the top 400 stayed for the whole week. I showed six rabbits and one meat pen. What makes up a meat pen is a group of three rabbits all ten weeks old and they have to weigh 3 ½ to 5 ½ pounds. Normally, you would see a lot of the average breeds used for meat such as the New Zealand, Californian, and Florida White, but, knowing me, I always have to be different. This year, I showed a Giant Angora meat pen. My goal was to be able to show them because someone told me I couldn’t so I had to prove them wrong. To top the fact that they made it there, they didn’t get last! On Friday night, I had the chance to attend the Pa Preferred Banquet as the Pennsylvania State Rabbit Duchess along with other members of the Pennsylvania Rabbit Royalty Court. We even had the opportunity to take our picture with 2016 State Fair Queen, Governor Wolf, and Secretary of Agriculture Russel Redding.
During the weekend, I was in the rabbit room a lot helping with the petting tables and answering lots of questions, but I started the day off with the opening ceremonies. I was asked to provide a rabbit to represent the rabbit industry and a chicken to represent poultry! On Saturday, I participated in rabbit showmanship and I won third in my class with a perfect score of 100%! I also discovered that my two jar display of tomato salsa and berry salsa and a pair of boots that I made from the fiber from my Angora rabbits won Best in Show! On Saturday night, I along with a few friends from 4-H participated in the Fashions with a Flair to show outfits that we constructed ourselves. My outfit was a pair of shorts that I actually wove the fabric with fiber from my animals and a shirt that I knit and crocheted also with fiber from my animals. I won first place in my class! I had a lot of fun representing PaSRBA while helping with the celebrity rabbit hopping contest as well as the meat pen auction.
The next day, Monday, started off with working in an information booth which are worked by 4-Hers from our county throughout the week. We provide the answers for questions about the Farm Show or 4-H. Then I worked with the Bell family to speak in the rabbit room about all uses of rabbits and hand out samples of delicious rabbit meat. I even had the chance to walk around the Farm Show with friends and watch the square dancing. Hopefully, one of these years, I will be able to participate in the square dancing!
On Tuesday morning I competed in one of my favorite events at Farm Show. This event is the wonderful potato judging contest! I really like being a part of this contest because it is very different and you learn a lot about potatoes and choosing good potatoes. You also learn about the different defects a potato can have. My team actually placed 8th!
Wednesday is always a busy day at the Farm Show for my family. This is Fleece to Shawl day! If you aren’t familiar with the Fleece to Shawl event, it is a competition for teams of five youth who take a fleece from a sheep and the carder cards the fiber to then hand it off to the three spinners to spin the fiber into yarn and then hand it off to the weaver to weave the yarn into a shawl. All of this has to happen in three hours! As you can imagine, we have to work very fast in order to finish and we also need a lot of practice. Each team also has a theme that the shawl represents. This year, my team’s theme was New Blossoms, so we had the colors of wild flowers and we all wore dresses and flower crowns. We hand-dyed our shawl with purples, coral, blues, light green, pale yellow, and delicate pinks. My mom actually is the 4-H leader of the Dauphin County Fiber Club and we had three teams compete this year! The two other team’s themes were Coffee and 101 Dalmatians. The 101 Dalmatian team won third place, the Coffee team won the fleece award and Reserve Champions, and my team won Champion and I actually won the weaver’s award! Dauphin County was awarded the top three teams!
Thursday morning brought some excitement for Blue Mountain Farms because we were awarded Best Commercial Booth with Sales at the Farm Show! This was an honor to receive because of all of the work we put into our products and our products are from our own animals! That night, my family and the Dauphin County Fiber Club Competed in the Angorapalooza. This event is new to the Farm Show and it is a timed competition where you have five members on a team and the harvester harvests the fiber off of an Angora rabbit and hands it off to the three spinners who spin the fiber into yarn for the weaver to weave a scarf. This isn’t hurting the rabbits because we are taking off their old coat that is being pushed out by their new coat. We had four teams and our themes were the four top agricultural products in Pennsylvania. So, we had Team Mushroom, Team Produce, Team Poultry, and Team Dairy. We all had a wonderful time and we all finished with time to spare. Ashley, my sister, was on Team Produce and she served as the weaver and I served as the weaver on Team Dairy and we were neck and neck on time. We almost finished at the same time! Team Poultry won fourth, Team Mushroom took third, Team Dairy won Reserve Champions, and Team Produce won Champion! We all did very well!
The last day was bittersweet. I was sad to see that Farm Show was coming to an end, however, at the end of the day, my family celebrates with a nice dinner and we all get together to thank everyone for everything they helped with throughout the week!
|Matt being a pretty "Fungi" for Team Mushroom!|