AUBURN, Ohio – From high on the hill, looking down over the scene of Carroll County’s eighth annual Country Living Field Day Sept. 29, it looked as if a century had slipped away and the circus had come to town.
The big striped tent tops stretched across the landscape in the pasture below, circling the farm pond and spreading out far beyond, as people headed down the hill toward the tent from all directions, moving briskly with a sense of high anticipation.
Through the day, more than 5,000 people walked through the entrance gate and onto the grounds to find more displays, products, information and activities than they could possibly take in.
Some people said they came particularly to see the helicopter and the mock farm accident rescue airlift demonstration; others were interested in the rare farm animal breeds on display in the heritage breeds livestock exhibit.
A lot to see. Sponsored by Ohio State University Extension in Carroll County and the Small Scale Agriculture Committee, Country Living Field Day is advertised as an opportunity to find ideas to manage and utilize land, and is organized around alternative farming ideas and small scale production.
It began in 1994 at the request of local farm families and is organized by a committee of farmers and landowners. It has grown into the largest educational program for small farms in the state.
More than 50 exhibitors participated this year, with booths, small tents, and displays scattered among the big program tents.
In the tents. The natural resources tent featured demonstrations on pollution solutions and groundwater quality as well as offering information from the state divisions of wildlife and forestry, from the forestry association, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, and a trappers’ association.
Charlie Ward of Bowerston picked up the Harrison County soil survey because he wants to plant a hayfield on his acreage to help feed the pygmy goats he keeps to provide a manure supply for the produce he grows.
At the Home and Hearth Tent there were spinning and fiber dying and soap making demonstrations, as well as displays on food preservation and safety, and on quilting.
Spinning everywhere. The Algonquin Spinners of Carroll County had its members at their spinning wheels scattered around the ground, wherever there were woolly animals like sheep or alpacas.
Nancy Ganyard of Canal Fulton, who sat in front of the heritage breeds display with her spinning wheel, pointed to the shawl she was using to keep warm and mentioned that “this is George.”
There were sufficient llama and alpaca breeders to have a special area of their own with a small arena to provide a full schedule of demonstrations and programs, including an obstacle course demonstration.
Workshops. Intensive workshops provided information on a specific farm enterprise – managed grazing, establishing a vineyard, managing a woodlot, growing herbs, and beef production and marketing. These workshops were supplemented with a row of three program tents where speakers kept coming and going all day.
Keynote speaker was Monte Swan from Colorado whose talk, “Why Are We Here,” was scheduled to introduce country living people in Ohio to what country living is like in the West.
There were also talks on beekeeping, fruit tree production, producing organic pork, maple syrup production, backyard beef, entertainment farming, hydroponic vegetable production, freshwater shrimp production, and a plenitude of other topics.
Needing ideas. George Payne from Kilgore said he had come to the field day specifically to look for ideas to revive the old farm he and his wife had moved onto four years ago.
Most of his 130 acres had been planted with white pine, and he is trying to roll the forest back and find good ideas to rebuild the farm in an economic fashion.
Exhibitors said most of the people they talked to were asking about ideas for small holdings, “mostly hobby and weekend farmers” said Bud Smith of S&S Equipment in Carrollton, who was showing his small tractors.
Janie Neuenschwander of Leetonia said the haired sheep she and her husband Stan were showing had been getting a lot of interest, with most people asking if they can use the hair for spinning.
But she said she made several sales from their display after last year’s field day, mostly to people who wanted a few animals to keep on a couple of acres.
Salem Fruit Growers Co-op said they were selling a lot of fruit baskets and getting a lot of questions about fruit tree spraying and about tree maintenance from people who had one or two trees and were interested in having them produce.
Safety roundup. The biggest area at the field day, and the one which drew the largest crowds, was the Kids Safety Roundup.
Every youth who registered and completed designated safety activities received a free T-shirt, and the shirts were going like hot cakes.