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Category Archives: Howard County

A Tale of Two Counties

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Specifically …

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… suburban Howard County.

And …

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… rural Howard County.

What prompted this post was an editorial in the Sun during the Howard County Fair. Not far off the mark, about the differences between those two worlds. Also I was intrigued that the county will be offering a Farm Academy starting in October.

The first session is out at Triadelphia Lake View Farm. Details to sign up will be on the Live Green Howard page next month.

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I wrote about them in my Farm series. They are known throughout the county due to their participation in a number of farmer’s markets and their pumpkin fields and cut your own Christmas trees.

For many people moving out of Columbia into the new developments all over the once rural west county, learning to live with combines, tractors, manure spreaders, noise from machinery and the other everyday occurrences on the farms has been enlightening to say the least. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying that the surrounding rural lands have unsightly buildings or fields.

We don’t all live on manicured lawns, and many outbuildings get a bit rusty. There are no covenants or HOAs out here in the older areas. Which is why many of us live here.

Learning to respect those who have farmed or who run businesses here is important. Trying to force the farmers to restrict what they do isn’t the way to peacefully coexist.

Yes, cow manure reeks. It’s a spring ritual out here to fertilize the fields. It isn’t noxious. It isn’t hazardous. It is necessary to maintain good soil for planting. Yes, we need tall strong fences to keep livestock in. Strength is more important than looks to keep horses, goats, sheep, alpacas, cattle, dairy cows and hogs where they belong.

Yes, there are naturally growing meadows that get harvested when the weather cooperates. I just close my windows and turn on the A/C if my allergies go a little crazy when my surrounding neighbors bring in the equipment to cut and bale hay.

If you ever wanted to learn more about how people live out here beyond Clarksville, check out this new initiative. And thank TLV when you see them at the markets for volunteering to be the first host.

And if you really want to know why we love it out here so much, scenes like this are way better than all the words I could write.

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The Morning After

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The flag was still flying high on the crane when I got to the fairgrounds at 10 am this morning. Most of the rides were dismantled. A steady stream of cars arriving to pick up exhibits, entries, ribbons and premium checks.

I like watching the crews take down the fair. It’s interesting to see. I have been volunteering within the farm and garden building. Stacking up entries for easy retrieval. Helping people find their ribbons, and decide what to do with their vegetables and fruit, now that it’s been sitting around a week.

I started helping a couple of years ago. My favorite part of being there is watching the 4Hers come in to get their entries and their ribbons. It’s also watching children come in to our tables to find their entries, and in many cases their ribbons.

One little boy today was picking up a third, fourth and fifth place ribbon for biggest zucchini. One for him and each of his siblings.

I also enjoy visiting with my friends at the beekeepers’ tables, and just getting to talk vegetables with other gardeners. Commiserating about how our tomatoes suffered this summer.

I just wish we could find someone to take all the less than perfect food (and some that was still usable). There previously were people who took things home to feed pigs or chickens. Now, not so much.

The food banks can’t take them. They have been sitting out in the heat for a week. Most of the tomatoes were going south. The berries, really gone.

Still, it’s fun to help a little and see behind the scenes in tear down.

People were taking their animals home. The stalls were all cleaned up, and new mulch was in a humongous pile out by the show pavilion.

Another year. Another check. This one my biggest. Just about enough to cover what I spent to buy seedlings and plugs at Sharp’s Farm last spring.

Spec Ops

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Special Operations, that is. Did you know that Howard County has a special operations team in our fire and rescue services department? And that they are using a very versatile and energy efficient way to deploy their assets wherever they are needed?

They are using #PODpower. Platform on Demand.

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There’s a Collapse Rescue POD.

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And a Mass Casualty POD.

Tuesday we had the opportunity to attend a press/media/blogger event at the Howard County Fire and Rescue Training Center. I joined about two dozen others to hear how we are using this method to provide support all over the county using two transport vehicles. The units are stationed in Kings Contrivance, convenient to I-95, US29, and fairly easy access to reach I-70 as well. Last year they responded to approximately 160 calls, an average of one almost every other day (technically one every 2.25 days but only geeky mathematicians like me would calculate that).

It was a large initial investment, but it works very efficiently. Instead of having numerous single mission dedicated trucks spread all over the area, the county uses the transport vehicle to grab the necessary POD and take it to a call. You only have to license and insure that transporter as a vehicle. Maintenance costs are lower too.

We split up into small groups and rotated through demonstrations, including some hands on opportunities. Including running the remote controlled crane.

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This is the unit some of you may have seen in the news, rescuing a Clydesdale that was stuck in a ditch just over the county line in Baltimore.


The above picture was from the county fire facebook page and it was in our handout.

The collapse unit was just recently used when someone drove an SUV through a sliding glass door entry in an apartment complex near COSTCO.

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The special operations team shored up the corner of the building which had been damaged by the vehicle, keeping the structure safe from collapse until it could be permanently repaired.

The mass casualty POD was really interesting. It gives the county the ability to simultaneously “triage” up to 50 people. The type of capability that could support a bus accident, or an incident at a business, for example.

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Every green container has the necessary equipment a paramedic could use for each individual victim.

This unit hasn’t used for any mass casualties, thankfully, but the ATV it houses has been utilized on the miles of trails throughout Columbia and the county parks.

According to their leader, LT Zimmerman, all of the team members are trained in HAZMAT ops, and there are members who support the other missions. They currently have 120 people who work in spec ops. Out of a 900 member force. I can remember when I moved here 40+ years ago, we probably had less than half that number and many of them were volunteers.

The fire and rescue services here have come a long way, with 12 stations, their own training facility that opened ten years ago, and so many other improvements. One near and dear to us out here in well and septic land, is the installation of all of the underground fire suppression tanks. Most are located at our schools but they are also found on some of the more rural roads.

I was glad we got the chance to see the new capabilities in action, and a chance to talk to those dedicated men and women who led the demonstrations for us.

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Thanks to all those in the Public Information Office who invited us and managed the event, and to those in the spec ops team, who provided us with insight into their role in fire and rescue services.

Yes You CAN

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If I can can, you can can.

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My first entries into the canning arena at the fair. Cherries and dill pickles. I got a fourth place for the cherries. Nothing for the pickles but I am still learning. I saw the better jars did spears. I did slices.

I knew I wanted to learn how to can more fruits and vegetables and I finally got the courage to enter the fair. So glad I did. You never know until you try.

These luscious cherries. From Larriland. Picked in June.

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I separated them before making the preserved batches.

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This was a very simple cherries, sugar and water mix. No pectin. No hard work other than pitting all those cherries. Water bath processed. I got 5 pint jars of them.

As for the rest of the fair. Two blue ribbons, plus one third and one fourth place

Herbs. This may be the third blue ribbon for herbs. I have to look at the records, as I have never gotten a blue ribbon in anything other than herbs before this year.

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And, onions. They got me my other blue ribbon.

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Those onions. Lots of work to dry. But, oh so worth it.

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The five selected hung out in a closet in the laundry room, on hangers and string, until I was ready to enter them.

I didn’t take pictures of my third place basket. I need to go back and document that for my records. My final ribbon, for yellow slicing tomatoes. Somehow I missed taking that picture too.

As usual, I struck out with my heirlooms. They just lacked the intense flavor they need in order to win a ribbon. But, there is always next year.

If you have never had the courage to enter items in the fair, you really should just throw caution to the wind, and get in there. Easy to do. Really. Every year I learn more, and the people I meet are all very helpful.

Next year, I may even overcome my inexperience in baking and enter my zucchini bread. Or, take the time to enter some of my photography. There are so many ways you can participate.

Thirty Five Years

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Give or take an hour.

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A significant anniversary. Living through those vow-y things. Like sickness and health. And loss of loved ones. Job changes. Uncertainties. Good times. Laughter. Tears.

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Standing up there not knowing what life will bring. Operating on love and faith. It does amaze me that we beat those odds. About eight years ago at a Christmas work dinner/dance, at 28 years, we were one of the last couples dancing. We could call it luck. We could call it dedication. We could call it hard work. Or a bit of all of it.

We’re not doing much for this one. We did the big splurge at 25. The fancy inn. The gourmet meal.

We just hit the county fair to see if I won any ribbons (more on that tomorrow). We will be grilling shrimp and petite filets. Opening an old Chateau Montelena we won at a charity auction years ago.

We certainly aren’t party people anymore, are we? Maybe tomorrow, the 36th anniversary of our first date, we will raise a toast at the beer garden.

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Don’t Miss

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At the Howard County Fair starting Saturday. Some new things. Old things. Every year it keeps getting bigger and better, yet the favorites still remain.

Like the Critter Barn.

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Or the daily pig races. Every day. Check out the events highlights here.

We like wandering around the barns looking at the animals.

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This year there’s a new addition to the fair. A beer garden. Thanks to Howard County’s home grown brewery. Manor Hill. They will be located at the rear of the main exhibition hall.

There’s a few more special events this year too. And old favorites that must be done. Like getting fresh squeezed lemonade. Or a soft serve cone.

For us we also love wandering the home arts building looking at the photographs. The farm and garden building, including buying our supply of honey from the beekeepers.

On our way out, we will get peaches from the farm stand, and Bowling Green cheese.

Our future farmers spend the week there. It’s a labor of love. Come support them.

This sums it up quite well.

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Fair Weather

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Today let’s talk about the weather. The weather that impacts gardeners and farmers. The weather that influences what we harvest. And whether, for me, it’s good enough to give me flavorful heirloom tomatoes.

Growing these tomatoes was on my bucket list. My 50 things I wanted to do before I die. Back 12 years ago when I turned 50 I wrote that list. Before we bought this house in the country. Before I ever tilled and weeded and suffered through our awful summers.

This year our county fair is a week later than the past. Giving me more time to get those heirlooms ripe. Except all that rain has made them a mess.

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They are cracked. They aren’t as full of flavor. Still, I try and pick the best ones to submit.

Submissions are due by Saturday morning, although I try to get mine in on Friday night. Today, I harvested all my leeks. I picked one of my unusual vegetables, hoping I may get a better one Thursday. I still haven’t chosen my herbs.

If you have never made it to the county fair, you really ought to come out.

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Come see what our traffic jams look like. Ride a few rides. Have some unhealthy foods. The fair runs from Saturday to Saturday. We like heading over there early before the crowds. And we buy a season pass.

See you at the fair?


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