Farm Side

By Marianne Friers

Are you ready for Sunday, or should I say, for Sundae on the Farm?

It’s coming up this Sunday at the Ryans’ Honorone Farm at 744 Latimer Hill Road, ​Canajoharie, NY, 13317. The event begins at noon and will end at 4 p.m., with lots to do between those times.

The forecast looks great. Clear skies, warm air and little likelihood of rain. Trees are already changing and that’s making for pleasing vistas all along the rural roads leading to the farm. Ames is one of the prettiest sections of our fair county, and this is certainly one of the loveliest seasons. Goldenrod is nodding yellow heads along the ditches. Myriad wild asters provide a white and purple counterpoint to the bright green of the late season hay fields and the gold and green of nearly ripe corn. We often travel out that way looking for good birds and admiring other people’s crops.

Are you ready for a sundae? The ice cream, donated by Stewart’s for the free sundaes (while supplies last), is always great. That alone would be reason enough to drive out into the beautiful countryside, but this wonderful opportunity to connect with area farmers and experience an afternoon on a real, operating dairy farm is icing on the cake. Or chocolate on that sundae if you prefer.

Here’s a bit from the event Facebook page describing the farm you will be visiting, “Honorone Farm was established in 1997 by Scott and Kathie Ryan. The farm consisted of 207 acres, a 60 cow tie stall barn and a dilapidated house.

Rotational grazing was set up the first year and has continued ever since. In 2000, a 76 cow freestall was built and the tie stall barn was converted into a milking parlor and calving area. In subsequent years, a calf barn and dry cow barn were built.

We currently own 400 acres and have a 100 cow milking herd of Holsteins and Brown Swiss.

We have participated in several environmental programs through Montgomery County Soil and Water District and NRCS that have enabled us to implement various conservation practices.”

Honorone is one of the nicest dairy farms in the area, a tribute to the hard work and good stewardship of the Ryan family. With the pastures clipped and clear, the buildings bright with paint, and the cows shiny and contented, it is downright pretty, as well as functional. There will be tours of the farm, so you can see how the cows are housed and milked, consider the rotational pastures and enjoy the calves and heifers. There will be Sundae on the Farm folks in bright yellow shirts available to provide you with information about what you will see there as well.

When you have finished your farm tour, you can take a horse-drawn wagon ride, provided by Adirondack Draft Horse Association, or enjoy the milking contest, which will be held at 3 p.m. I have heard rumors that teachers may be involved, but no solid information has come my way as yet. Whoever turns out to be involved it will be fun. Milking contests always are. I remember when Liz was a dairy ambassador and was convinced to milk against local celebrities. As you might expect with a ringer like that she soon had a substantial quantity of milk in her container. And then she tripped in those high heels…

Several local vendors are expected to  be present for the event, offering locally grown and produced farm products for sale. C.A.L.F. will be selling hamburgers, hot dogs and lemonade throughout the day as well. Among the vendors are Hummingbird Hills Winery of Burtonsville Road, Fultonville, Frasier Sugar Shack, with pure maple syrup and maple confections, Acadian Farm, 3B Farm, Crooked Cabin Garlic & Maple Farm, Chick & Hen Baking Co. known for all manner of tasty delights, Blue Moon Farm, and Barbara Weloth.

Besides the cows there will be other interesting farm animals waiting for you too. Wagon Wheel Farm, owned by Andrew & Emily Opalka, will be bringing donkeys, goats and sheep. Clear View Farm will be there with their alpacas. Is there anything cuter than an alpaca I wonder.

A new event this year is Bessie Bingo, which will take place at 2 p.m. This involves a patterned grid area with 1’ squares marked out upon it. Folks will be able to purchase these squares. Then they will hope an event, which is usually marked more by dread and ducking out of the way.

Tickets are $5, available at several locations listed on the event Facebook page, as well as at the event itself, should any be left by that time. I have a feeling these will sell like hotcakes … or perhaps like hot pies instead. The winner, that lucky individual upon whose square Bessie the Bossie elects to deposit a bit of valuable organic fertilizer, will take home $200. In the event of a tie, that is if Bessie’s aim is a little wonky and she hits more than one square, the prize will be divided among square-holders. Should Bessie fail utterly in her dairy duty, a number will be drawn at random by a member of the MCSF committee. Proceeds will benefit Montgomery County Sundae on the Farm.

Montgomery County Dairy Princess Laura Littrell and her court will also be at the event.

You are pretty much guaranteed a great time if you drive out to Scott and Kathy’s place on Sunday. I mean, after all, there is ice cream, and there are animals, and beautiful scenery and really nice people. What’s not to like?

You will also get a chance to learn about farming from people with boots on the ground and hands on the reins. So much mis-information is plastered behind screaming headlines all over the Internet. So much is said about modern farming practices that is misleading at best and all too often utterly false and very damaging at worst.

Here’s your chance to get the real scoop.

Fultonville dairy farmer Marianne Friers is a regular columnist. She blogs at http://northvilledairy.blogspot.com.