Out in the country

Who's up for a day in the country? Anybody ready to revel in the sweetness of the season, meet friends and neighbors, and learn a bit about the industry that is the backbone of the state's economy?

Ready to pet baby animals? Discover the taste of locally grown fruits and vegetables?

Mark your calendar.

Montgomery County Farm Bureau's annual Sundae on the Farm will take place this Sunday, Sept. 15, at MMT Cattle Farm, Hickory Hill Road, Fonda. It is going to be a great event.

The fun starts before you even arrive. The trip to the farm takes you down winding country roads, bordered by fields of corn, soybeans and other crops, interspersed with trees that are just beginning to think about changing color for fall. Staghorn sumacs wave magenta antlers among the greenery; the river lies, strong and silent, to the south, and there is a great sense of history as you travel the same roads that the Iroquois did even before the Revolution.

When you arrive you will find a farm that is as modern as tomorrow, yet as pastoral and lovely as any in the area, evoking memories of the glory days of farming. The land and buildings snuggle against the flanks of the surrounding foothills, while handsome cattle graze verdant fields or feed and rest in contemporary barns.

Mrs. Tommell was kind enough to send me an overview of the story of the farm to share with you.

MMT Cattle Inc. is a diversified beef cattle operation. Founded in 2003, the 250-acre farm is owned and operated by Marc and Nicole Tommell. Along with the Tommells, four full-time and two part-time employees help operate the day-to-day activities.

MMT Cattle purchases all types of cattle throughout New York, Pennsylvania and New England. Typically, there are 800 to 900 head at the farm at one time. The cattle are grown and organized for future resale. Many of the cattle are resold at around 500 pounds, or six months of age. Typically, these cattle are shipped to Midwestern states with regular customers in Michigan, Iowa and South Dakota. Cattle that MMT retains are grown and finished at other "feedlots" in New York state.

Along with the commercial cattle business, MMT is home to a registered Angus herd. Forty purebred cows roam the pastures and calve either spring or fall. A passion for the Tommells, they careful select genetics and use artificial insemination to continually improve the overall quality of the cow herd. In addition, cattle are shown at various local and state levels, with hopes of larger shows in the future.

Recently, MMT Cattle has begun offering high quality, grain-fed Angus influenced finished cattle for sale to restaurants and the general public. All meat holds the USDA inspection seal and can be purchased as quarter or half sides or whole for the freezer.

As always, besides visiting a working farm and getting to see how it works, visitors to Sundae on the Farm can enjoy a number of other activities. The children's booth is always popular with lots of educational fun. There will also be an opportunity to meet the dairy princess, a wide assortment of live animal exhibits, live music, free games, and horse-drawn wagon rides.

Hickory Grove, Iron Wheel Farm, Puthaven and Conboy Lamas are some of the folks who will be there with farm animals for you to visit.

I particularly love the wagon rides, which will be provided by the Eastern Draft Horse Association. Sitting behind magnificent draft horses, surrounded by the sharp, clean scent of fall interspersed with the warm, sweet, sense of horse, listening to the rumble of the wheels, the creaking of the wagon, the soft thudding of the great, round hooves on the ground ... it all combines to offer a step back in time, and a wonderful adventure. It is an experience no one should miss.

Once or twice I have taken the reins over a pair of Belgians belonging to an area driver, who sometimes lets folks drive his horses at the fair. It was amazing and humbling, not to mention exciting. Sure a long way from driving single harness ponies here at the farm. All that power and pride, all gently controlled with a few strips of smooth leather.

Another experience you shouldn't pass up is the free ice cream sundae (while supplies last, of course). What's not to like about ice cream? And ice cream enjoyed on a family farm right here in Montgomery County is just that much better.

Another favorite of mine is the celebrity milking contest. Although contestants have yet to be announced, the fine cows of Dellavale Farm will be participating in the fun. New York is the third largest dairy producer in the nation.

In addition there will be a farmer's market filled with locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, flowers and more. New York ranks first in cabbage and cottage cheese production, second in apples, maple and sour cream. We also rank in the top five for grapes, corn silage, pears, pumpkins, onions and a number of other dairy and vegetable crops.

Directions to the farm: From the east, take Route 5, then half a mile west of Fonda, turn right on Hickory Hill Road and proceed until you see the farm.

From the west, take Route 5 east from Palatine Bridge 12.6 miles, turn left on Martin Road, take first left on Hickory Hill Road.

As I sit here, just across the river from this year's venue, listening to a cheerful Carolina wren caroling right outside my door, I find myself hoping that you will stop by MMT for a chance to experience all that agriculture has to offer here in our lovely, rural county.

A big thanks to Montgomery County Farm Bureau, the Farmland Protection Board and Montgomery County Soil and Water, as well as to all the other sponsors, volunteers and the Tommell family for providing this wonderful event where farm and city can meet in harmony.

Fultonville dairy farmer MARIANNE FRIERS

is a regular columnist. She blogs

at http://northviewdiary.blogspot.com/