Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Farm Show

   Nothing exhibits the whole of God's creation quite like the massive Pennsylvania State Farm Show. In its one-hundredth year and operating out of an enormous indoor complex, it's a blessing to behold. Cutting edge machinery parked alongside humble yet informative 4-H projects, calves walking through the crowds on their way to the arena, and a marketplace showcasing all of the best this region has to offer. There are the tree and lumber guys, like my very own Mister. The bee and honey people, dairy farmers, mushroom growers, agriculture historians, and environmentalists. People with sidelines you've never heard of tie it all together in a tapestry that demonstrates a magnificent interdependence. No man, nor creature, is an island.

Young observer or future farmer.

   The crop of people are just as interesting to me. Families galore, plenty of children pulled out of school for the day to experience the event. There are long lines for the carousel, the expert craftsman of balloon animals, and an opportunity to feed the butterflies. The lines move swiftly, mostly. I also say nothing showcases the diversity of the growing conservative Anabaptist landscape quite like the farm show. Each year there are new styles of coverings and previously unimaginable combinations of modest wear. On my way to peruse the ribbon-winning canned goods I pass a busy mom in a traditional headcovering and ski pants. Maybe they drove in on the snowmobile? I'm sure she had her reasons.

   The canned goods were picture perfect. 
Crystal clear jellies and pickled eggs in 
perfect form. The
Perfectly pickled.
first place chow chow (mixed pickle) is, I kid you not, behind glass.

"Did they think someone would steal it?" joked The Mister.
"Don't give me any ideas!"

You can't do everything, and there's so much to see. An announcement that Punxsutawney Phil, the beloved official groundhog who makes the call on extended winters and early springs, will be leaving in fifteen minutes sends us on a goose chase to quickly find him. We missed the judging for the first ever whoopie pie competition. Don't forget the butter sculpture. I've wondered for years where all that butter goes, a buffet maybe? I hoped not. A new sign announced that it will be recycled into biofuel. At the very end, we peruse the vast market of venison bologna, artisan cheeses, and all manner of top quality bounty.

We bought two unique products that I found interesting. One is called Ghee, a shelf-stable butter that has the dairy solids removed. Ghee is great for frying because it has a remarkably high smoke point. It's marketed as a healthier butter, and I added it to my collection of cooking oils. I read about it years ago but this is the first time I have seen it for sale anywhere. Our other souvenir is Hickory syrup. The ingredients are hickory sap and cane sugar. It tastes sweet but also smoky. My first thought was that it would be great for grilling. Low and behold, it came with some recipes for grilled chicken and fish. I look forward to cooking with these two gifts carved from creation.

We white-knuckled it home in the snow that night along the dark turnpike. How inspiring it was that day to walk side by side with the growers, the milkers, and the mere farmers at heart all under a single roof. Representatives of a rich calling built on passions, diverse practices, and stewardship. I suspect a love of the land reaps a reward beyond mere money. It must because even during the dry years, the truth remains that
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. (Proverbs 28:19) It's a truth for all of us.

Now, back to tilling.

Meanwhile, a hundred years ago...


  1. Sounds like a wonderful day. You're making me homesick! As for ghee, absolutely love the stuff! It's a main staple for Indian food, which we love. It gives the most amazing texture and taste to the sauces in classic Indian dishes, and is also fabulous to add to rices and daal/lentils. I've made it, which was kind of messy to do, but I did it all the same. After pouring that liquid gold into my little jar, I refrigerated it, as my recipe directed. I was so excited to use it, but when I tried to spoon it from the jar, it was so solid, I could barely get it out of the jar! It tasted great though!

    1. Right, the information it came with said it's a solid unless warmed, and the one I bought doesn't need refrigeration for eight months. Sometimes it's easy to scoop out and on a cold day, not so easy! I'll say this, it's a dream for frying or pan-searing! I've never had things look so nice coming out of the pan and my house isn't a smoky mess afterwards. The vendor also sold it in fun flavors like honey or siracha. I'm almost sorry I didn't buy a jar of the flavored ghee. Maybe I'll do a product review, sometime. It's definitely been a fun experience to cook with it.

    2. What an interesting post. I would love to try the glee.

  2. A covering and snow pants? Really? Maybe they came by sleigh!!!
    Love your pictures!!!

  3. We really need to go to the farm show. Bill and his dad went back in 1973, then we got married in 1974... You can see we are due for a trip! Maybe next year. I really need to check out this ghee.

  4. We love the farm show too! It's been several years since we went, so we decided we'd take the kids this year. Well, we were no more than 5 miles down the road when our minivan started to overheat and long story short, we ended up not being able to go. I was disappointed, but was grateful that at least we weren't far from home! The poor kids though didn't see too much blessing in it.

    Too funny about the covering/snow pants. And I've heard of ghee but never have tried it. You have me convinced that I should though. :) I wonder if Vitacost carries it...maybe I can get some with my next order since I usually have a few credits thanks to the blog.

    1. It breaks my heart that you were so close to going and then couldn't due to the van. :( The poor kids is right. We hadn't gone in a couple of years, but I hope we can make it again next year.

      Vitacost does carry a brand of ghee at a competitive price. I'll tell you, it's excellent if you need to pan fry something. While I'm not crazy about spreading it on a roll or something for fresh eating, it's crazy high smoke point is great for people like myself who are frying pan challenged. I'm already halfway through my jar and will miss it when it's gone. It's a nice addition to my artillery or olive and coconut oil.

  5. That sounds so pleasant! I hope we can find a similar experience, down here in Alabama. :-)


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