Going Home to Mother Earth News Fair

Reader Contribution by Heidi Nawrocki
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I love the changing of the seasons. As summer winds down and the crickets start their chirping in early evening, I look forward to the explosion of color on the trees. Another thing I’ve grown to look forward to over the past few years is the Mother Earth News Fair.

The fair is such a fun, exciting, and HUGE event. It also means going home to me. The September fair is held at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. Springs, as the locals call it, is a 20-minute drive from my home. One of the ballrooms used during the event is where my high school proms were held. It was only fitting that my dad met me there on Sunday morning, the only day I was able to get away. I was kid and husband free! As we walked through the rear gates, my dad was automatically drawn to the portable sawmills. There were several and they were all warming up for the day. As a rule, my dad and I tend to be super early for everything. We got there at 9 a.m., even though the first workshop didn’t start until 10 (sans the poultry processing demo).

We stood and chatted with one of the vendors and watched as a log was rolled up onto the cutting table and sawed into nice boards. My dad inquired how thin the boards could be cut and challenged the men running the mill to cut a board to veneer thickness. The particular log that they were cutting was too dry to cut quite that thin, but we were nonetheless impressed.

There were quite a few vendors, inside and out. We saw a small walk-behind round baler. It seemed like just something we would need on our farm once we get more livestock. There were Yanmar tractors, a wide selection of garden tools, books, herbal remedies, soaps, garlic, knives, essential oils, yarns, even a gadget that allows women to pee standing up. One of the many times I passed their booth, a group of teenage boys stood in awe at the simple piece of plastic. I secretly wished I would have had one for when we built our house!

There was also a tent for the The Livestock Conservancy. In the tent were alpacas, sheep, pigs and cows. A local farmer I knew was there with her wool. The pigs were adorable – they are known as IPPs (Idaho Pasture Pigs). I was told by the farmer that while they are cute, they made good bacon as well. But, one of the things I was very drawn to was the Kerry cattle stall. In the stall was a calf named Morning. I spent a good deal of time talking with the president of the American Kerry Cattle Association on the group’s efforts to try to save the original “house cow.” Kerry cattle are listed as critical on the Livestock Conservancy site. I plan to do a whole different post on these cattle as their story is pretty fascinating to me. It has me thinking that perhaps we should pursue getting a family milk cow instead of a herd of goats!

As I seemed to be on the milk cow kick, I attended a talk by Faith from Misty Morning Farm in Virginia. She and her husband, Adam, raise what they coin the “once-a-day milk cow.” They breed small Jersey cattle that are suited for a family milk cow. I was enamored with the talk – Faith discussed various considerations in feed and amount of milk produced. She also touched on A1 vs A2 milk. It is quite fascinating to me, and I plan to read much more on it. I left her talk feeling enthusiastic for our future with a family milk cow, even if we choose to help save the Kerry breed.

While I did pack my lunch, I couldn’t help but treat myself to a hot apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream. And I picked up some maple cotton candy for my kids. Maple syrup is HUGE in my home county, and I was a “maple princess” in high school. It goes without saying that I can be a bit of a syrup snob. There are worse things to be picky about, I suppose.

The fairs have become so popular that Mother Earth News now holds four fairs around the country. If you get the chance, you really should try to get out to visit one. You’ll come away feeling inspired and with renewed enthusiasm for whatever endeavors you may have in your journey. I really wish I could have gone more than one day – there were so many talks that were interesting. Maybe next year! Check out my blog for more photographs from the fair and to follow along on our journey!

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