Blue Ribbon Summer
It’s been a whirlwind of a summer with lots of time spent watering, watering, and more watering due to our record setting heat waves and number of days above 90 degrees this year. There have also been baby chicks and baby turkey poults to take care of as well as the rest of the flock, sorting and collecting eggs to sell, a few chicken and turkey poult injuries to tend to, and I’m sure a few other farm emergencies that I’m forgetting about. But there’s also been time to have some fun this summer, including entering the county and state fair. I missed the county fair last summer due to having too much going on to get entries ready, but this year I made it a priority to enter, and I’m so glad that I did. Two years ago I entered a few canned goods and some of my eggs in the county fair, and I won a few ribbons which was fun. This year I decided to up my game and I entered a ton of stuff, as in 40 things!! I love flower gardening, and I do have a pretty nice flower garden, so I decided to enter about a dozen kinds of my perennial flowers. I also entered a couple of dozen different kinds of agricultural products including vegetables, herbs, eggs, and honey. Jams, jellies, and pickles rounded out my entries.
On fair day we went to the floral building first, and when I saw the big rosette Reserve Best of Division ribbon on my ‘Kent’s Beauty’ oregano I started jumping up and down like a schoolgirl. Yup, I did. And I clapped my hands too, and then I jumped up and down some more! I got first, second, and third place ribbons for all of my floral entries except for one. I was off to a good start, and we headed to the agricultural building.
My vegetables, herbs, eggs, and canned goods all did really well, and I’m afraid I had another spell of jumping and hand clapping when I saw that my largest potato entry had won a Reserve Grand Champion rosette ribbon! All in all I came home with 35 ribbons, mostly blues, and a few second and third place ribbons too. They also award small cash prizes for each ribbon, so I came home with $54 in prize money too, not too shabby! I definitely am going to enter the county fair next year, as I think I may just be addicted to the adrenaline rush of those big rosette ribbons!
The state fair was a month later, and I only entered a dozen things because by that time my summer flowers were fading with all of the heat we’d been having, and also the categories are different. The state fair doesn’t have any categories for eggs, I mean come on, what’s more exciting than eggs people, sheesh! I won 9 ribbons at the state fair, none of those big rosette ribbons, but my largest potato did get a blue ribbon which I was super happy about because we have some really great agricultural regions in Oregon, and there were quite a few impressive giant vegetables on display. I didn’t win ribbons for my watermelon jelly or my blueberry-lemon-basil jam which is kind of a mystery because they were mighty fine looking and tasting if I do say so myself. When we pick up our exhibits we’ll get the scoring cards so that may answer a few questions. All in all it was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I made time to enter the fairs. Sadly I think the fairs may become a thing of the past in the not too distant future. I’ve heard rumors of low attendance and fewer entrants, and some fairs in the urbanizing parts of the state are even doing away with the 4-H exhibits in the fair due to low participation rates. Times are a changing, but for now I’m gonna enjoy farm living while our county is still rural and the big city is still an hour away.
I’m sure you can tell by now that it’s been a great year in the garden here at the farm. I’ve been putting away as many fruits and veggies for winter as I have time to. There are plenty of pickles, jams and jelly for us and for gifts for friends and family. The freezer is getting full with roasted peppers, roasted tomatoes, and pesto. The pantry is full of potatoes, onions, and garlic. My three sisters corn-beans-squash experimental planting is doing pretty well. We have several ears of corn developing, and each new tassel and baby ear that appears gives me an inexplicable thrill. There’s just something so jaunty about those baby corns with the little floofy bundle of silks on top! I’m growing some different heirloom tomatoes this year from seed swaps I participated in, and we’ve got some gigantic Black Krim tomatoes just starting to ripen that are so fun to harvest. The largest one weighed in at 1 pound 5 ounces (yeah, I’m that weird person who weighs everything, from large vegetables to giant eggs).
We’ve been eating some great meals from the garden this year thanks to a new cookbook that I was gifted by a friend who knew I needed some new inspiration for how to use all of our fresh veggies. The cookbook is called Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, and I highly recommend it. I’ve had so much fun in the garden this year that I decided to grow a fall garden too, which is something I don’t usually get around to. So far I’ve got another crop of seed potatoes in the ground, as well as small patches of broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, carrots, radish, collard, and spinach. We do have a marauding rabbit that’s been getting past our vegetable garden fence lately and chowing down on the rhubarb leaves (which I thought was supposed to be toxic so go figure), anyway fingers crossed that it doesn’t run out of rhubarb and turn its attentions to my tiny seedlings! Thanks to those of you that still read blogs out there, 🙂 and I’ll try to be better about posting more regularly now that things are getting a bit less busy at the farm as summer winds down.