“PINK Party” A night out with “The Girls”…and those who love them.


April 16

How the “PINK Party” came to be.

It was a busy, August day, I had just gotten back from a fast trip over to Western New York State wine/grape country from some juice when my phone rang. I was tired I had left about 4:00am, by 3:00 in the afternoon the day was getting long especially in the heat. My wife Michelle had gone to the Doctor to get some test results, her voice on the phone was weak and tearful, “I’ve got cancer”. I dropped to my knees on the back dock of our winery. I had not gone with her, the general consensus was they were just calcium deposits….we were wrong. The 20 minute drive she had back from town seemed liked an eternity.

My Girls

My Girls, my wife Michelle with our daughters Cara and Breanne

Were my daughters going to lose their Mother? I didn’t know how to react really. I mean I didn’t know enough about anything to be afraid or confident, angry or stoic. My brother had lost his wife the prior year after a long battle. Was this our future? My wife’s Mother was winning her battle, was this our future? My wife’s Grandmother on her Father’s side died from it in the 1940′s. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.

Almost five years later, she survived!

Almost five years later, she survived!

This post is not “About Us”, we survived. It is about what we…..mostly “she” did to fight back. The December after that August my wife Michelle had a double mastectomy. We were lucky no Kemo, no Radiation. The following spring then June final reconstructive surgery. In July she walked 60 miles in Cleveland in three days raising over $4,000.00. She has done that every year since in one city or another. I have helped by supporting her, being a Susan G. Komen crew member and last year for my first time I walked along side my survivor in the 100 degree heat of the Twin Cities as a walker myself. That is what the PINK Party is about and so much more.

Pink Party 2013

Pink Party 2013

One thing I learned about the Susan G. Komen walk was it was about so much more than just money. When you spend three days together with about a thousand of your closest friends on street corners, sidewalks, parking lots, parks, tents, portable showers, tents and porta jons volumes can be spoken with just eye contact. Yea, you raised a pretty good chunk of change to get there but it isn’t really about the money, it is about the journey. And the PINK Party is part of that journey for us.

Auction items

Auction items

For me the raising money sorta sucks, but it taught me a lesson. It is good to be humble and ask for help if it causes someone to think about something they would rather not think about and maybe it saves their life. My wife was lucky, early detection at least saved her from a much more gruesome path we saw others take, maybe it saved her life? So while the party is about raising money, the cliche’ of raising awareness is even more important because in this case that awareness is personal. If we touch one person that night, if one person is moved to action we truly have already taken our first steps, the following sixty miles are easy.

Pink Party ladies

Pink Party ladies

It’s harder to hate someone if you know them, it is harder to be afraid of something if you are smiling. We are serious about this fight but it doesn’t mean we don’t laugh along the way, we use it as a weapon in our arsenal. The PINK Party is about serious business, it is about doing our part to save lives but we also try and have a good laugh along the way. Laughter rejuvenates, laughter makes you stronger, laughter helps you fight.

Willie on the "hands down"

Willie on the "hands down"

We play games like “Hands up” / “Hands Down”. You pay to play but if you are the last one standing you go home with a Big Screen T.V.

Prizes and so much more!

Prizes and so much more!

The Big Screen T.V. was purchased and donated by Maize Valley staff member and good friend Scott Mann. Scott and Michelle hatched the idea for the “PINK Party” event over the previous winter. Many great people came together to make the evening greater than the sum of its parts.

Scott Mann, a Man of many talents

Scott Mann, a Man of many talents

A great number of local area businesses also stepped up to help out. Doreen Leaf Designs and Bridal Bouquet donated Tuxes for the guys to wear that evening and countless others donated door prizes, massages, and makeovers. We even had a belly dancer out demonstrate her trade and how it applied to art and fitness.

Joe, Ryan and Todd sporting Doreen Leaf Designs apparel

Joe, Ryan and Todd sporting Doreen Leaf Designs apparel

In the end they even managed to make this farmer look pretty good and that is a hard thing to do standing next to this lady, my survivor Michelle.

Me and my Survivor

Me and my Survivor

As I mentioned it took me a while to really understand the impact a night like this could have on people. Our actions that evening while focused on the obvious purpose of raising money also moved people to be multipliers and that was our real accomplishment. We raised over $7,000.00 that night all told. We thank all the participants, guests and friends who came out to make that possible. We took that money and some more and donated it to the Susan G. Komen foundation and participated in the 3 Day for the cure walk in the Twin Cities. We also mention we paid our travel expenses, hotel and meals while on the trip out of our own pocket, not as a badge of honor but just so folks know we tried to put all their donations toward the “main thing”.

At the end of Day # 2 with 40 miles behind us

At the end of Day # 2 with 40 miles behind us

Along the walk we met many friends, and heard many stories of personal loss and triumph. With your help we may again do it again in 2014, thank you for your time spent here reading this and hope to see you at the “PINK Party“!

Chelle in the middle of the pic at closing ceremonies

Chelle in the middle of the pic at closing ceremonies

Thanks again, next post I will talk a little bit more about the walk itself, what happens and why we have chosen this particular charity. Take care, BB

Corn Maze, What’s next when building one…. part 3


April 8

Oh poo, well more like manure that is. In order for any crop to grow well a lot of things need to happen. In the first blog post we talked about harvesting the crop at the end of the growing season. In the last one we discussed taking a soil sample. Over the winter months not much happens in the field but “weathering” does occur. Weathering is a natural process where the weather works on the soil. Do you remember science class and what happens to water when it freezes?

Rock cracked by water freezing inside of it.

Rock cracked by water freezing inside of it.

While things appear “solid” to us not many things really are. Practically everything has small spaces or pores within it. Rocks are no different, they have little spaces inside of them and depending upon the type of rock some are larger than others. Water finds its way into these little spaces and when it gets cold and freezes (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit) it expands. It is an enormously powerful force, strong enough to lift buildings, crack metal or rocks.

Copper pipes that cracked because of water that froze and expanded

Copper pipes that cracked because of water that froze and expanded

The same weathering forces act upon the soil in the fields. In fact we like it to happen especially in corn maze fields. All those foot falls of people walking across the field pack the soil down and freezing and thawing really help break it up. Over winter the snow and rain falls on the field and finds its way into the soil.

Rain water seeps into cracks in the soil

Rain water seeps into cracks in the soil

Soil is about 50% air and water and about 50% mineral and organic compounds portions are called soil colloids . It is the water in these spaces that freezes and thaws over the winter months that push the soil particles apart allowing for air and water to move between them more easily that we get the benefits of this process. When the soil “heaves” (not good for alfalfa fields, but that is another story) the soil loosens, actual cracks get formed which allow for later rainfall and other nutrients to find their way into the soil where plants can use them.

japanese bettle life cycle

japanese bettle life cycle

Another upside to a good long hard freeze is it kills a lot of critters living underground. Some actually have a form of anti-freeze in their blood but a good freeze still gets a lot of them.

liquid manure after application before plowdown

liquid manure after application before plowdown

We also can use this time of year to apply fertilizer both animal manure based as well as other forms. We like to put a small amount of pellitized lime and ammounium sulfate.

Lime Truck spreading lime

Lime Truck spreading lime

You try and catch the ground when it just a has bit of frost on top that holds you up but not frozen so much you have a hard time plowing it. And frozen is no substitute for proper moisture. We don’t plow when it is too wet! This is sort of a delicate balance and not always easy to hit.

Plowing maze immediately after manure is applied.

Plowing maze immediately after manure is applied.

Well this post about our Corn Maze has gotten a bit long! Time to go, we started to talk about plowing and preparing the soil for planting. Next time we will talk a bit more about how we approach overall fertility.

Who’s da Hare?? Breakfast with the Easter Bunny April 19th 2014.


April 1

You know it must be spring when you see the bunnies start hopping around the farm! And boy do we have a BIG bunny that pays us a visit every year! Yes we have the one, the only, Easter Bunny! She lives on the farm year round. For “rent”, we ask that she help us out this one special day and hang out with our little peeps!

The one, the only....Easter Bunny!

The one, the only....Easter Bunny!

Yep, fresh down from the cotton trail the Big E.B. loves to stop and visit with our families at Maize Valley. This year due to a record demand we have just added a second seating. Click here for event details and reservation information.

Wide open egg hunt if weather permits

Wide open egg hunt if weather permits

If the weather lets us we go out behind the market and winery on the hill out back and look for all the eggs the E.B. has scattered around. If it is not such a nice day out we ask E.B. to just leave them in the pavilion and we make do. Whatever the case we get it done.

Indoor "hunting" if need be.

Indoor "hunting" if need be.

This event is a similar style event to our Breakfast with Santa – you will have a reserved table with your paid reservation and it will be your table for the duration of the event. If you would like to sit with another party, please let us know at the time of your reservation and we will make every attempt to accommodate your request.

Please let us know when making reservations if there is another group you would like to sit with

Please let us know when making reservations if there is another group you would like to sit with

The buffet style breakfast includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, juice & coffee. There is also a cookie decorating station where the kids can decorate and take a a large egg shaped cookie home.

Reserved tables are numbered for easy locating

Reserved tables are numbered for easy locating

Like breakfast with Santa this event sells out. In order to keep it a well run and organized event we require a pre-paid reservation to hold your spot. Every child gets a chance to visit with the Easter Bunny and there are lots of great photo opportunities (so bring your camera).

The Bunny doesn't really say much but you are welcome to sit and visit.

The Bunny doesn't really say much but you are welcome to sit and visit.

At Maize Valley we do many different special events that cover a wide range of age groups and interests. We really try to have a “Vintage for all the Seasons of your life”. Breakfast with the Bunny is sort of that kick off event to our outside activity season.

Cookie Decorating out in the Pavilion

Cookie Decorating out in the Pavilion

Last year we moved the Cookie Decorating out into the pavilion so there was more room inside to be able to sit and enjoy breakfast while hanging out with the hare.

Corn Maze…part 2, Harvest is done, time to get a soil sample


March 25

Farming is science, pure and simple. Agronomy is the term used; Agronomy is the science and technology of producing and using plants for food, fuel, fiber, and land reclamation. Agronomy encompasses work in the areas of plant genetics, plant physiology, meteorology, and soil science.

The science of food

The science of food

My background includes a degree from “Thee (LoL) Ohio State University” in Agricultural education. I was set to teach vocational agriculture to high school students when my wife’s father in law offered us a job on the family farm. My wife and I decided being farmers was our best option. Over the years I’ve added various continuing education credits along those lines.

New and Old School

New and Old School

When in comes to raising crops you have got to know science, and you have got to know and understand the chemistry of what your soils have going on. After you know that you can apply the “art” part. We use a blend of Old School things for nutrients like cow manure, crop rotations, and lime. We also use some of the latest technology available to us. You need both.

Robotic soil sampler

Robotic soil sampler

The Rubber-tracked Autoprobe, Left, Pulls Soil Samples On-the-go At The Rate Of 20 Cores Per Minute And Is Aimed At Large Input Dealers.

Soil sample tools

Soil sample tools

For sake of this blog post on how we take soil samples in our corn maze we will keep it simple. The tools in the picture above are similar to what I use when pulling core samples. When you pull a sample you go out to a field and remove actual samples of soil from around the field.

Soil sample farm layout

Field Sampling. Sketch your fields before sampling to reflect known differences in soils. In our case the corn maze is in one specific field but the field does have two very distinct soil types and I sample those separately just like they are two different fields.

Soil sample grid pattern

Soil sample grid pattern

Usually, it is recommended that a single soil sample should be collected for any given field or management unit. However, a single soil sample should consist of at least 25 individual cores collected from representative areas of the field or management unit, which are then mixed together into a common “composite” soil sample.

It is best to pull soil samples in the fall when soil is dry

It is best to pull soil samples in the fall when soil is dry

How much of this sample to send into the soil testing lab will depend on the analyses to be performed and the specific lab, but usually about 20-30 ounces (volume) are required.

Soil sample report

Soil sample report

Therefore, of the 25 or more soil cores which are collected from a field, management unit or problem area, only the amount needed to fill an appropriate soil sample container is actually collected from the composite sample and sent into the lab.

Soil sample bags

Soil sample bags, after you pull the sample be sure to use a plastic bucket or other non-ferrous container. For instance if you use a metal bucket you can pick up Iron from it.

Depth of sampling is usually at least six inches, but may extend to 12 inches or more, depending on the situation.

Soil sample potassium levels

Soil sample potassium levels

Sampling technique (depth and placement) may also depend on whether the field is irrigated, bedded or flat, and also on what is needed from the analysis such as nitrate-nitrogen (NO3–N), sulfate-sulfur (SO42–S), phosphate-phosphorus (PO43–P), sodium (Na) or total salt concentration, etc.. In reference to sample frequency, depth, amounts of soil needed, and tests to run; this will all depend to some extent on the nature and intent of the sampling process as to whether it involves routine management or diagnosis of problem areas in a field.

Soil sample core depth

Soil sample core depth

At the core of creating a great corn maze……..Ok, a little agronomy humor….. is getting all of this done timely and correctly. You do not want to sample soil when it is wet for instance. Doing so can affect the results you get back reflecting inaccurate Potassium levels which are a huge part of the equation. We sampled our corn maze right after harvest and are waiting on the Lab report to make fertility recommendations and applications. Based upon crop removal data we know a bit of the story already and will apply liquid manure and then balance the rest of the needs at planting time if need be.

Technology tools in the form of handheld and tractor mounted GPS systems are commonplace today.

Technology tools in the form of handheld and tractor mounted GPS systems are commonplace today.

We
Tools like the GPS are used in the actual design of the corn maze and when we go into the field to cut the design paths which I will touch upon in a upcoming blog post.

Winery Open house and Anniversary!


March 20

Newest winery construction summer 2012

Newest winery construction summer 2012

Well nine years in the wine business has flown by oh so fast! Thank you to everyone who has visited with us in person or who has supported us by picking up our some of our wine at your local wine store. The winery may have just saved our family farm market, it sure has at least changed it a great deal.

Progress on the Winery....soon to be Brewery!

Progress on the Winery....soon to be Brewery!

In 2012 we built the biggest addition yet pictured above. To that point we had been “re-purposing” other old buildings or “farmer building” structures. We originally began producing wine in a renovated “potting shed”. That was the small poll barn we had attached to the greenhouse that we originally used to pot plants and baskets for the greenhouse business.

Original Potting shed

Original Potting shed

As we grew we built an addition off the East side of the Potting shed or “Head House”. We built this ourselves on a shoe string budget and it came out okay but didn’t last us too long.

Farmer pole barn addition

Farmer pole barn addition

A lot changed since we opened the winery in 2005. There were about 75 wineries in the state of Ohio that year. This year there are over 200 Ohio Wineries currently in operation. They range from growers/farmer style wineries that grow large quantities of grapes, to what are known as “kit wineries” that focus on just the wine making process separate from growing fruit. We are somewhere in the middle. We farm about 700-800 acres of cropland a year. We grow about 40-50 different types of crops from garlic to grapes, peppers to pumpkins.

Lettuce growing up in the "Hartville Swamps"

Lettuce growing up in the "Hartville Swamps"

We have a wide variety of soil types on the farm, and we are on the Southern edge of the Hartville Swamps a very special and unique growing area and soil.

Inside of new Winery/Brewery building

Inside of new Winery/Brewery building

The latest building will open. It will help us open the next chapter in Maize Valley’s history. It will house the new expansion of the brewery.

Newest outdoor patio seating area

Newest outdoor patio seating area

But don’t think we have just built a bunch of buildings. NEW this year we have expanded our outdoor seating area behind the “Gateway Pavilion” which is directly attached to the back of the winery/market building. The new area should seat between 40-60 people and we have also built some gentle walkways that take you up the hill to the Hill top party barn.

Walkways leading up the hill take the long and easy way up.

Walkways leading up the hill take the long and easy way up.

So soon the snow will stop falling and the sun will shine! This hill has a South face and we will put seating along the paths, a perfect place to relax with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the Ohio summer that is in store. Check out this link for details on our web page.

Ohio Wine and Fun! We make great wine….FUN!


March 14

Quick note blog post! Did you know we have live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night all year round? A lot of people come and ask, “When do you start having music again?”……Word is we never stop unless an act backs out on us.

Mike Lenz and Peggy Coyle

Mike Lenz and Peggy Coyle

We have a rotation of performers that roll through each month and then we sprinkle in some special acts just to shake things up. So if you have a regular you like to see we try get them back about once a month. If you want something different be sure to follow our face book or G+ pages or visit our website and click on the entertainment link.

Bongo Joe and Little Steve-O

Bongo Joe and Little Steve-O

Bongo Joe and Little Steve-O play all around the greater Akron Canton Cleveland Ohio area. They play some pretty big events but we were one of the first places they played together and like us so they keep a place for us on their calendar and can be found here once a month.

Cranberry Pomegranet Chicken

Cranberry Pomegranet Chicken

We have some really tasty Weekend dinner specials too. We grow over fifty different crops and do a variety of special events and meals where we try and incorporate as many locally grown items as possible. Pictured above is our Cranberry Pomegranet Chicken.

Flatbread goat cheese

Flatbread goat cheese

Our menu varies by the season and by the fair. We do casual as well as five course wine paired full service dinners depending upon the need.

Mike and Peggy outside in the pavilion

Mike and Peggy outside in the pavilion

Soon summer will be here and we will be able to get back to doing what we do best…..that is have fun outside. We have lots of wide open spaces and places to roam around the farm. So come on out take a stroll this summer, have a bite to eat and if you like hang around and listen to some great local music. The Wagon rides to the pumpkin patch, corn maze and more will soon be back. But soon after that the snow flies and it is time to be done with that for a while!

Corn Maze, yea we do that!


March 11

Ok, yea what does “Ohio Wine and More” have to do with an Ohio Corn Maze? We make great wine (and soon beer)….FUN! Agritourism, corn mazes, wagon rides, pumpkin picking and a whole bunch of other “Fall Harvest Activities” are a big part of what we do. We start planning and getting ready for a corn maze season soon after the last one is finished. We get a lot of questions that go something like how do you make a corn maze? This is a big subject to we will try and break it down into a few blog posts not to get too long.

2013 LoCo Motion Corn Maze

2013 LoCo Motion Corn Maze

Harvesting last years crop. As one season winds down we start looking to the next. While one maze is up and running we watch to see how it performs, how the design actually works for people. Are there paths that didn’t get used, if so why? Were there things that made this maze particularly good? Once we close the season we roll the combine as soon as possible.

John Deere Harvester or "Combine"

John Deere Harvester or "Combine"

Why is it called a “Combine” people ask. Because it does a combination of things. First of all it is self propelled. That may not seem like a big deal but did you know that self propelled harvesters were part of the War Effort in the 1940′s? There were self propelled machines before that but it took a war to get them mass produced.

Pull type combine

Pull type combine

Tractor and pull type combine

Tractor and pull type combine

Not to take the “way back machine” too far but pictured above is a combine that was pulled by a tractor. The real early ones had a separate gas engine on the combine itself and you had one on the tractor as well. During World War Two this was a big deal because if you could get that down to one engine you saved both raw materials and fuel. Learn more about the History Here.

Battle for bread

Battle for bread

It was about 1942 when they came up with the idea to mass produce self propelled combines. Steel was rationed and you had to get approval from the government to build things like this. The 1952 Massey pictured below is one we have on our farm. A neighbor sold it to us in the summer of 2013, it’s engine finally gave out he was heading to the field to combine some oats.

1952 Massey Harris

1952 Massey Harris

Ok, so these machine combine the tasks of cutting the crop with a cutter bar. Then elevate it up a feeder house into the machine where a rotor (modern machines) separator or a concave and screen (older machines) begin to remove the grain from the seed hull or cob. The material passes back through the machine where further separation and final cleaning takes place with the “trash” or chaff being expelled out the back and the grain moved up into a storage tank. This used to all be done by hand or animal back in the day and was very labor intensive as well as slow.

Corn head or cutter bar in this case.

Corn head or cutter bar in this case.

Corn head or cutter bar in this case. There are things called “snapper rolls” underneath that “snap” the ear off the stalk.

Tractor pulling a grain cart runs along side

Tractor pulling a grain cart runs along side

Tractor pulling a grain cart runs along side. This allows the combine to keep rolling and not have to take the time to stop to unload the grain tank on the combine. This saves time and weight the machine needs to carry. When a single machine can cost between $300,000.00 to $500,000.00 you need to keep them rolling every second you can.

Semi trucks on the fields edge waiting to take away the harvest.

Semi trucks on the fields edge waiting to take away the harvest.

Semi trucks on the fields edge waiting to take away the harvest. You try and never drive on a field more than necessary or when the field is too wet. You stay off not to compact the soil. And this field is done for the 2013 harvest season! Look for our next blog post about the steps we take in making a corn maze. Thanks for stopping by!

What is the “More” in Ohio Wine and more….it is a lot of things, this time a brewery!


March 4

Tags:
Breweries
FunTSAR

When I started this blog we already knew what we did as a business, family farm, farm market, winery, pumpkin patch, corn maze etc. etc. was different. Wine gave so much talk about it took center stage for the title, the more was about the other things. It was about the parts when added up we hoped made us greater than their sum.

We are not greedy, if we were we would have left agriculture a long time ago. It is just when we see an opportunity that fits into our area of possibilities we take it. The state of Ohio recently created a new permit that allows us to manufacture and sell beer! Yea pretty cool. It will fill a gap we have in our product offerings. We hear from our lady guests often how they would come out more often or come at all but do not because their significant other like beer.

Todd and Michelle practicing with some recipes

Todd and Michelle practicing with some recipes

Today my wife Michelle and her brother Todd are working in our kitchen experimenting with a recipe for an American Pale Ale. A great deal of the the beer making process relates to making wine. That is not saying they are the same at all but rather it is sort of like getting familiar with a set of ideas and tools. When you learn to solve one set of problems a lot of that information transfers, or at least the process does.

The diffuser we rigged for the "boil" into the mash

The diffuser we rigged for the "boil" into the mash

So we are starting off very small and humble. In the next month or two we will install a one half barrel unit to get us started brewing beer for sale. We will see how to run it well and make what we plan on being “craft beers”.

Old original trailer

Old original trailer we started selling sweet corn out of in about 1997-ish


But after all we started selling sweet corn out of the back of a two wheel trailer I originally built to feed heifers with when we used to milk cows. So who knows how far this may take us?

Bra-Vo! We are fighting Back at Breast Cancer…please join us if you like.


February 26

Bra-Vo! but why? Our story behind fighting Breast Cancer.

We get numerous donation requests and we try to honor as many as possible. As a business we focus in on two charities because we have personal experience with them, Veterans and Breast Cancer.

My brother lost his wonderful wife Mary Ellen who helped us launch our pumpkin picking patch years ago, and it took a swipe at my Mother in Law Donna and my wife Michelle, they have survived. Now we fight back.

My Brother Tim, my Mom and Mary Ellen at my daughter's Cara Birthday

I remember the day I got the “news”, I had to run to New York to get some wine making supplies so I couldn’t go to the doctor with Chelle. I just got back, I was on the back dock, she called what we thought were calcium deposits were cancer….I dropped to my knees, the energy of my life instantly drained out of me, why didn’t I go with her today? She had to drive home herself, my Mom taught me to open doors for ladies, I vowed to never let her go to a Dr. appointment again.

Bra-Vo

The "Racks" behind our bar!

March 1st kicks off our Bra Decorating Contest called Bra-Vo that culminates in our PINK Party in May. It is how we Fight Back, last year we raised $7,000.00 in an emotionally charged, brightly decorated, sometimes loud, sometimes “pin drop” quiet evening. Bra-Vo helps get that started.

Opening ceremonies

Opening ceremonies

Chelle and I walked over 50 miles (sometimes in 100 degree heat, they closed the last 10 miles) last year as Susan G. Komen walkers in the twin cities. It is quite an event, it raises more than just money, it lifts souls.

At the end of day two

At the end of day two

We took every penny, nickle, dime and dollar and put it towards the cause. We paid our other expenses ourselves, just so you know if you came out last year.

I think this was Day Two about mile 10

I think this was Day Two about mile 10

If you, or someone you know, love or care about has been affected by Breast Cancer and you are looking for a way to fight back please consider joining us. If you feel compelled please share this with someone.

Cork Bras

Here is an idea for you!

Last year was the first year for the PINK Party….It is a ticketed event, to our surprise and delight it sold out! That was over 100 people! We will working at expanding our ability to hold more people while keeping the quality standards we strive for. Please look at our Face Book event page for details or visit our website calendar event page as well.

Ohio Wine and More… and Pigs???


February 14

Ok, If you are a “Hoytie-Toytie” wine snob….you are not going to like me or my blog. Save yourself some time and click on that little red “X” in the upper right hand corner. This is a story about how we ended up raising hogs (pigs, farmers call them hogs more than pigs) again, and how they end up in the hands of Chefs in and around the HOT emerging Cleveland local food scene.

Hi, Watcha' doin'?

Hi, Watcha' doin'?

I am a family farmer, winery owner and soon to be brewery owner along with my wife, brother-in-law and my in-law’s. Brace yourself we are incorporated so technically a “corporate farm” I guess, you have to be for liability concerns. I drive a 2000 F-350 with 194K+ miles on it, I bought my wife a “new car” last year it was a 2007. We don’t live large we work hard. We are a Winery with ADHD, basically I shoot pumpkins out of a cannon for a living and also build corn mazes.

Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.

Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.

I was scanning the web and stumbled across a article about a local Chef in Cleveland following his dream and opening a butcher shop behind the West Side Market. I thought cool, so I followed up and read about it. His name is Adam Lambert and is currently a chef at bar cento . He will open a butcher shop in the “Palace of Fermentation,” Sam McNulty’s multi-faceted project currently taking shape in the Culinary Arts Building behind the West Side Market. You can read the story here.

As I read the article I came to realize the hogs we raise end up with him via Fresh Fork Market ! But here is the story behind how we got back into raising Hogs…..

My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.

My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.

We used to farm “large” about 15 years ago. 3,000 acres, milked 150 head of cows, trucks, grain lots of equipment. We eventually got run out by houses and low commodity prices. We sold stuff off and tried to survive. We opened a farm market and started raising small vegetables. My wife’s family has lived here (Marlboro) since the 1800′s. Her family has done everything, sheep, hogs, cows, dairy, tanned leather, taught school etc. etc. But one thing they had never done was “Agri-tourism”, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, hayrides and such.

2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze

2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze

After a few years corn maze’s were just not enough we needed to add more things for people to see and do. So we heard about racing pigs and thought we know pigs lets give it a try. But we don’t just race pigs…..we do NASHOG! The finest in Flat track pig racing in Ohio! We even built them a new track this year without a “Sin Tax”!

NASHOG race track

NASHOG race track

Our pigs have lots of room to move, run and have fun. They mostly just like to eat and sleep however. To train them to race you need cookies! Pigs like to eat pretty much the same stuff humans do and they run for Oreo’s!

"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays

"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays

We do “NASHOG” races on fall weekends starting at about noon and going till dusk. We get enough pigs so no one has to run too much but still have enough time to get cookies. They get a BIG shot of grain at the end of the day. Even giving them full feed they still grow slower than their buddies back at the farm who don’t get the opportunity to run the flat track every day. Maybe the stress of “celebrity” holds them back too? They do have lots of fans.

A small crowd catching a pig race

A small crowd catching a pig race

But at the end of the Corn Maze, Pumpkin Picking Season what is there to do with a bunch of highly trained athletes that have a bit of ego and celebrity? At first we took them to auction and took an absolute beating not even getting back our costs. It is the wrong time of the year for people to want pigs to feed out. So we took them to the home farm and started feeding them out ourselves for our freezers. We had few people buy one here or there but not too much of a consistent market for them.

Feeding time, that's all the time really.

Feeding time, that's all the time really.

That’s where Fresh Fork market and the patrons of Cleveland area restaurants and other customers of Trevor and Fresh Fork came in. Trevor starting buying our “Surplus Racing Pigs” and soon more. We starting raising hogs again year round now. Some regular breeds some special breeds depending upon what is asked for.

Now That's FAST FooD!

Now That's FAST FooD!

So thank you for supporting local folks doing cool new things and next time you sit down in Cleveland for a special dinner with friends, it may not be McDonalds…..But it still could be, “Fast Food”!


 
 

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