Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Dairy Day at the New York State Fair

Thank a cow and a dairy farmer today.

Here are today's dairy events at the fair:

       o   9 a.m.:  Dairy Day awards breakfast in the Empire Room.
o   10:30 a.m.: Celebrity Milkshake Contest, Chevy Court Pavilion.  Members of the press show off their skill at making a unique milkshake flavor while trying to beat the clock. 
o   11 a.m.: The Big Cheese auction.  Cheese in blocks small, large, and gigantic are auctioned off at the Chevy Court Pavilion.  Free samples available while you bid!
o   6 p.m.:  Dairy Day goes to the State Fair Daily Parade.  Dairy princesses, milk trucks, and lots of streetside giveaways highlight this edition of the parade around Chevy Court.
                o   All day:  Cheese sculptor Sarah Kaufmann will carve cheddar into unique sculptures in the Dairy Products Building.

Cream Cheese Festival is Sept. 19 in Lowville

It's coming. Mark your calendar!

Yum. Cream cheese.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Get Ready for Apple Picking in New York

Gala apples at Abbott Farm in Lysander

Have you ever thought about that custom of bringing an apple to the teacher?

Well I wonder if that started because apples are ready for picking just about the time kids go back to school?

Early varieties of apples are ready now, depending on which  orchard you visit. Orchard owners say there is a great crop this year, with apples big, juicy and tasty.

The U.S. Apple Association forecasts that New York's crop will be great, but not quite as plentiful as last year. The association predicts a crop of 26.2 million bushels in New York for 2015, down from 30.8 million bushels in 2014.

Paula Reds are the first off the tree and a few orchards (Deer Run in LaFayette, Beak and Skiff in LaFayette) are open for customers who desire this tart, juicy and crisp apple.

Some others, such as Navarino Orchard on Route 20 west of LaFayette in Navarino, are open now with Zestars (crisp and juicy) and Paula Reds. Warren Abbott at Abbott Farm on Route 370 in Lysander said he opened Aug. 22 for Zestars and Sansas (sweet apple and a cross of Gala and Akane). Adams Acres in Pompey will be open about Labor Day and O’Neill Orchard in LaFayette plans to open Aug. 29.

Call the Onondaga County orchard of your choice for an exact date on when they will be open for the season.

Here is a list of most of the orchards in Onondaga County:

Beak and Skiff, Route 20, LaFayette, 696-6085

Adams Acres, Sevier Road, town of Pompey, 498-6654

Navarino Orchard, Route 20, Navarino, 673-9181

McLusky Orchard, LaFayette, 677-5176

Abbott Farm, Route 370, Lysander, 638-7783

O’Neill Orchard, Route 20, LaFayette, 677-9407

Deer Run Farm, Route 11A, LaFayette, 677-8087

Clearview Orchard, Tully, 696-6438

Apples also are available in other parts of the state. Go to to find a place where you can pick your own apples in New York state. Also, check out to see all the different apple varieties that are grown in New York, what they taste like and their best uses (applesauce, pies, fresh eating, etc.)

North Country People At the New York State Fair

Here is my story about the first day of the fair and North Country people at the fair:

Katie and Michael Stoffel of Antwerp enjoy their chocolate milk at the fair.
It was exceptionally cool (sometimes downright cold) and rainy on the first day of the New York State Fair Thursday.

But that didn’t keep the folks from coming out for food, animals, music, product demonstrations and rides at the fairgrounds in Geddes, just west of Syracuse.Thousands had come through the turnstiles by Thursday afternoon. And while they were at the fair, they were greeted by many fair exhibitors and fair workers who are from Northern New York.

Here are some of their stories:

Iroquois Village -- The Iroquois Village is a proud part of the
Margaret Burnam, a Mohawk, at the Iroquois Village
fairgrounds in which people from the Six Nations of the Iroquois tell fair visitors of the history of their people and share their customs and lives.

One of them is Margaret Burnam, 73, a Mohawk formerly from Hogansburg, St. Lawrence County. She has been coming to the State Fair since she was 6 years old and still remembers years when she would participate in the dances put on by the Native Americans at the village.

“I would dance when I felt like it,” she said. “Then I would run over to the Midway.”

Thursday, she was cleaning up the Mohawk booth where handmade jewelry and other items are sold. A downpour had just swept through and one side of the booth was wet.

“I love it here,” she said. “People come here and ask questions.”

She lamented the fact that visitors often don’t know very much about the Six Nations of the Iroquois. She tries to help when she can. She recommends books for people to read and has even had people come back to her the next year to thank her for the recommendation.

Ms. Burnam will be at the fair all 12 days.

Milking and birthing cows – Teri Martin, of the town of Fowler,
Teri Martin in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center
St. Lawrence County, is doing double duty at the state fair.

She is in charge of the milking parlor, where all the cows being shown and displayed in the dairy cattle building come at least twice a day to be milked. About 500 cows are milked there and Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative, picks up the milk for processing.

She also volunteers (when cows aren’t being milked) at the Dairy Cow Birthing Center, answering questions from those watching calves being born.

“I was showing cows here about 20 years ago and they needed someone to run the milking parlor. I said ‘I can do that,’” Mrs. Martin said. “Then three years ago when the birthing center started, Jessica (Jessica Ziehm, who run the birthing center) came to us at the milking parlor to see if we wanted to work at the center. So here I am.”

Mrs. Martin is happy to answer questions at the birthing center because “the more we education we can do the better for all of us.”

“And I like answering questions,” she said. “Most people are four generations removed from the farm, so they need to know what we do.”

She’s been asked some doozy questions. Someone wanted to know if you really can tip a cow over. Does chocolate milk come only from brown cows? Do cows bite? Does it hurt cows when they’re milked?

“No question is too silly,” Mrs. Martin said.

Mrs. Martin and her husband, David, have Holsteins and Brown Swiss on their second-generation dairy farm.

Keeping the peace – Sgt. Gary Mattimore is the station
Sgt. Gary Mattimore
commander for the New York State Police in Gouverneur, St. Lawrence County.

But this week, he is the day shift supervisor for the state police exhibit at the New York State Fair. The 21-year state police veteran ensures the exhibit is running smoothly, that all the demonstrations are being done correctly and on time and that fair visitors are getting their questions answered.

“It’s a fun detail. I like to help people out and make sure everything is running smoothly,” Sgt. Mattimore said. He said some of the incidents troopers may have to deal with at the fair include fights, injuries and thefts.

The state police exhibit includes the canine unit and its handlers, the scuba detail, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, recruiters and those operating the rollover demonstration. On Thursday, Sgt. Mattimore was helped with the rollover demonstration, picking up dummies that had been thrown out of the rolling vehicle and putting them back in the car.

This is his third year working the state fair. He is north country through and through, being a native of Lewis County and having worked in Plattsburgh, Canton, Carthage,  Lowville, Ray Brook and Gouverneur during his career. He was senior firearms instructor at Ray Brook.

Merry Christmas – Even though it’s only August, Cathy Jo and
Cathy Jo and Rob Brown of Three B Christmas Tree Farm
Robert Brown always have Christmas on their minds.

They run Three B Christmas Tree farm in Norfolk, located between Potsdam and Massena in St. Lawrence County. They also have a farm in Jordan in Onondaga County.

They were working Thursday at the state fair booth for the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York.

“The foremost thing we do here at our farm is education,” said Mrs. Brown. “When people come out, it’s almost Christmas and everybody’s happy and you can please most people.”

What most fairgoers don’t realize is Christmas tree producers don’t work just from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.

I could work seven days a week right now. It started as a hobby, but, it’s not a hobby,” he laughed.

Mrs. Brown said the only time Christmas tree growers aren’t working in the fields is January to March. Then spring comes and they are out trimming trees constantly and then mowing the land around the trees. The Browns have 43 acres in St. Lawrence County and sell blue spruce, Fraser firs and balsams.

“We sell those because of the frost and cold we get up there,” Mrs. Brown said. “Some varieties don’t do well in those conditions.”

And even though running a Christmas tree farm and selling wreaths and other greenery decorations they make takes them away from enjoying their own Christmas season, they wouldn’t give it up for the world.

“I’ve always enjoyed the tree farm business,” Mr. Brown said. They are celebrating their 25th anniversary in business this year.

Sweet maple --  Nadeen Lyndaker, one of the owners of Lyndaker Maple Orchard in Croghan,  Lewis County, was putting people to
Todd Hofheins, of Attica, Wyoming County, and Nadeen Lyndaker, of Croghan, Lewis County, man the education center for the New York State Maple Producers booth in the Horticulture Building at the State Fair
the test at the New York State Maple Producers Booth at the state fair.

“OK, tell me which is real maple syrup and which is the fake stuff,” she said as she handed a farigoer  two little plastic cups with syrups in it. One was a lighter color and one was a bit darker.

She said it was surprising that some people who said they only eat maple syrup would get it wrong and some who said they would definitely be able to tell the difference also had a difficult time tell real from fake.

Mrs. Lyndaker was working in the maple producers’ education booth, which began last year but wasn’t located near the maple products booth in the Horticulture Building. This year, the education center is directly across from the maple products booth and many more people are checking it out.

“We are teaching them about the new grades (of syrup, which changed this year) and how the collection of sap and making of syrup has changed over the years. We’re here to educate people.”

The education center has photos on the wall depicting sap collection in buckets and the newer modern way of collection via tubing and vacuums. The trees in the center are dripping water (to depict sap) and there is even a place to take a selfie with trees in the background that you then can put on Facebook.

And the workers there also answer questions. Mrs. Lyndaker said some people don’t realize maple syrup really comes from maple trees. One person wanted to know if it could be made sugar free.

“We want them to know it is a real, fresh, local agricultural product,” she said.The Lyndaker Maple Orchard has been around since 1926 and it in its fourth generation.

Enjoying NYS milk – While they weren’t working or exhibiting at the fair, two Antwerp residents were found Thursday enjoying some cold, fresh chocolate milk from the Rainbow Milk Bar.

Michael Stoffel said – tongue in cheek – that he collects his quarters all year to get ready for the fair and the Rainbow Milk Bar. The bar sells cups of white or chocolate milk for 25 cents.

He said he and Katie Stoffel come to the fair each year and always enjoy a cup of milk.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Project Encourages Farmers to Consider Tile Drainage

Submitted by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program:

A Northern New York Agricultural Development Program project report encourages farmers to consider the benefits of tile drainage to both crop production and environmental stewardship. 

The research is especially timely as farms face changes to the environmental standards they are required to meet and at a time when federal and state funding is available for installing the tile drainage.

As many states refine their phosphorus management requirements for farm nutrient management plans, it is critical that the models they use are based on representative field conditions and sound data, says project leader Eric Young, research agronomist at W. H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, Chazy, NY.

Young estimates the return on investment from installing tile drainage on farms with slow or very slow permeability is from seven to 12 percent over five to 10 years.

The goal of the most recent tile drainage research funded by the farmer-driven NNYADP was to compare phosphorus losses between tile drained and undrained test plots designed to simulate field-scale conditions typical of northern NY dairies.

Undrained conditions resulted in greater surface water runoff and phosphorus losses compared to tile drained lots, Young says.

The test plots at the Lake Alice Wildlife Area, Chazy, were managed as reed canarygrass in 2012-2013 planted to corn in 2014. Tile drainage and instrumentation was installed during 2012-2013 to capture real-time changes in both surface and subsurface runoff. Automatic water samplers track changes in phosphorus concentration and sediment over storm events.

The 2014 season was a wet year and included two major storms events in June, another in August, and one large precipitation and snowmelt event in December for measurement.

The vast majority of runoff that occurred in the tile drained plots was through the tiles with only three percent of the total runoff volume occurring as surface water runoff, Young says, and erosion that occurred from tile drained plots was half that of the undrained plots.

Although the trial size of only two replications limits the ability to show significant statistical differences, tile drainage showed a clear advantage in reducing surface water runoff and total phosphorus leaving the field.

The results of this project were presented at the 2014 Southern Extension and Research Activity 17 meeting in Des Moines, IA; 2014 Soil Science Society of America meeting in Long Beach, CA; and a University of Vermont Extension meeting on tile drainage in January 2015 in St. Albans, VT.

Given the multiple potential agronomic and environmental benefits of tile drainage to agricultural producers in Northern New York, and other regions, there is a critical need to better quantify the environmental aspects of tile drainage to support cost-effective best management practices to maximize both economic and environmental crop production aspects, Young explains.

Miner Institute has received a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program grant for 2015 to characterize tile drainage water nutrient concentrations and flow rates for several farms in the NNY region. 

The 2015 project work will assess the relative importance of nitrate-N and phosphorus in drainage water at different times of year and compare nutrient concentrations in tile drainage flows to levels in surface water runoff and any ponded water from the same field.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. 

For a complete list of NNYADP 2015 projects and results of past projects, visit the website at

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 Butter Sculpture Unveiled at the New York State Fair

"Thanks for the Milk, Moo York," the 2015 New York State Fair butter sculpture

You can call this “Great American Milk Drive – Part Two.”

This year’s New York State Fair butter sculpture was unveiled Wednesday morning and it is a thank you for everyone throughout New York who has donated milk to needy families through the Great American Milk Drive.

The sculpture is called “Thanks for the Milk, Moo York.” The 2014 State Fair sculpture kicked off the Great American Milk Drive, which resulted in more than 22,000 gallons of milk being donated in the state.

Made of 800 pounds of unsalted butter from O-At-Ka Milk in Batavia, the sculpture shows a dairy farmer, milk processor and retailer each holding gallons of milk. There also are key New York state elements behind them, such as Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty and the Carrier Dome.

The sculpture is one of the most popular sites to visit during the 12-day New York State Fair. It is in the Dairy Products Building at the New York State Fairgrounds in Geddes.

The fair opens Thursday, Aug. 27 and goes through Labor Day, Sept. 7. This is the 47th annual butter sculpture at the state fair.

“We live in one of the top producing milk states in the country, yet many families aren’t getting the nutritious, wholesome milk they want to provide for their children,” said dairy farmer Sarah Noble-Moag, of Pavilion. “The Great American Milk Drive helps draw attention to that need and makes it easy for people to donate, both in store and on line,” she said.

This is the 13th year artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton, of Conshohocken, Pa., have worked on the sculpture. This is probably the tallest sculpture they have done, since the top of one of the milk bottles in the piece is only about a quarter inch from the top of the butter sculpture’s refrigerated room.

“It’s 77 inches high,” Ms. Pelton said. "In 2012, the sculpture about Greek yogurt during the summer of the Olympics was 2 inches below the grate.”

As part of the Great American Milk Drive and thanking people for their previous donations, the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council, which sponsors the butter sculpture, also is asking people to donate extra quarters when they buy their cup of milk at the fair’s Rainbow Milk Bar.

The additional donations will go toward purchasing milk for food banks and food pantries so needy families can obtain milk. The Rainbow Milk Bar also is in the Dairy Products Building and serves delicious, cold glasses of white or chocolate milk for 25 cents.

The Dairy Association and Dairy Council also is conducting an Instagram Selfie Contest to help spread the word about the need for milk donations. Take a selfie in front of the butter sculpture with your cup of milk from the Rainbow Milk Bar and tag it “givemilktoo.”

Each day of the fair, one winner will be selected to receive a $50 gift card for dairy products and a $50 donation will be made to a local food bank to help it purchase milk.

One second prize winter will win an Apple Watch. And one grand prize winner will receive an Ultimate Buffalo Bills Fan Weekend package, including access to pre-game practice, an overnight hotel stay in Buffalo and four club tickets to watch the Bills take on the Houston Texans.

Go to for more contest information.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Donate at Rainbow Milk Bar at the Fair to Provide Milk to Needy Families


From the New York State Fair:

For thousands of fairgoers, the annual trip to the Great New York State Fair isn’t complete without a stop at The Rainbow Milk Bar for a cup of 25-cent, ice-cold white or chocolate milk.  

Now, fairgoers can donate their spare change to the Great American Milk Drive and help ensure more families can get milk year-round, said Rick Naczi, chief executive officer of the  American Dairy Association and Dairy Council and State Fair Acting Director Troy Waffner. 
Through The Great American Milk Drive, dairy farmers and milk processors, in partnership with Feeding America, are helping to give much needed nutrient-rich milk to millions of hungry families through area food pantries and food banks.  

There is a nationwide shortage because milk is rarely donated.  

“Milk is one of the most highly requested items at food banks throughout the country,” Naczi said. “To help provide more milk to families who depend on these facilities, we are asking fairgoers to donate a quarter for every cup of milk they purchase. We’re calling this campaign “Get One, and Give One Too.” If just a fraction of the people that visit the Milk Bar donate, we’d raise $22,000 and that would buy a lot of milk.”

Donations to support the Great American Milk Drive will be accepted at every milk station at The Rainbow Milk Bar. All proceeds will be earmarked for milk purchases and distributed to food banks throughout New York. 

“The Rainbow Milk Bar is one of the fair’s most popular exhibits, and it’s become a tradition for families to stop by and get a cup of ice-cold milk," said Waffner. "It promotes the health benefits of milk and supports our dairy farmers. Now, Fairgoers can use their love of dairy to give back, and help get fresh, nutritious milk to other families in their communities.”