Garden Diary - August 2018

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A Day at the Fair - Poultry and Rabbits, Produce and Honey

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Having wandered through four livestock barns, enjoying a slow stroll looking at goats, sheep, horses and cows I'm still not done looking at the exhibits I want to see. Coming up - produce and poultry.

Produce and Honey

There's enough farming in this portion of Hunterdon County that horticultural classes extend beyond the usual flower and home garden vegetables. As well, there are classes for preserves - jams, jellies, fruit butters, marmalade and conserve, and baked goods.

As soon as I enter the show tent there's a multi-level stand with all the
prize winning flowers. Dahlias appear to be especially well represented.

Mammoth Russian sunflowers, raised for seed. And the seed is used for
as a snack food for humans, wild bird seed, or pressed for sunflower oil.

Forget those midwinter flavorless tomato shaped vegetable products.
What is summer without tomatoes!

Ditto for peaches. Local, juicy, ripe. Not mealy, soft
shipped from who knows where. Amazingly, this is true

even for cabbages. Fresh from the garden is better. The small holes
in the outer leaves may have taken some points away, while telling
me that it was raised organically - cabbage moth caterpillars nibbled.

Farm country. Hay bale competition. How do you judge? I have no idea.

Clearly someone does, as this bale of 1st cut alfalfa was awarded
a blue ribbon rather than another one. Classes for other kinds of hay

and a smaller showing of bright straw too. This is the winning rye straw.

Down at the end of the tent is the honey and beeswax competition
managed by the Northwest New Jersey Beekeepers Association.
There's information, and honey for sale. And a demonstration hive.

A glass fronted cabinet has several groups of different types of honey
that were entered in competition. Here's one. Such a sweet display.

Classes for beeswax in candles and blocks too.

Now off to the poultry and small stock tent. As always there's a huge display of chickens, some other-than-chicken birds. And rabbits.


A good showing of many different kinds of rabbits, some with cages labeled "looking for a new home." For sale, I expect, not adoption.

There are some girls sitting off in one corner, with their placid rabbits
in their laps. Like this Dutch belted. Children can come and pet them,
ask questions - maybe become a member of the 4-H Hoppers . . .

I found these Siamese rabbits with dark ears, nose, feet rather charming.

But the lop ear rabbits are also very appealing, don't you agree?


There are chickens kept for meat, others for eggs, and some dual purpose that are good for both. And some chickens are kept for their looks, with fancy feathers or other ornamental characteristics. The Fur and Feather 4-H group has Rhode Island Red point-of-lay pullets for sale. These are female birds, at about 6 months old about ready to begin to lay nice brown eggs. Priced at $20 apiece, 6 for $100. No rooster needed unless you want to hatch chicks from the eggs. There's an incubator with hatching eggs to look at, and newly hatched chicks too.

There's a woman with a Polish lace, each feather
neatly edged in black. Have a question? Ask away.

So many chickens! Cages stacked two high, two deep, multiple rows.

Along the side wall there are pens for non-chicken poultry with some interesting waterfowl and out really surprising entry. As well as white Peking ducks, the most common meat breed, there are Cayugas and Campbells, both excellent egg layers. Somewhat larger than chicken eggs, with a richer flavor I find duck eggs particularly good for baking as well as table use.

As well, there's a pen with muscovy ducks. They have fleshy red growths around their eyes. I think of muscovys as black and white, but these have soft brown feathers. Native to Mexico, Central, and South America they are actually rather cold tolerant, down to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is a Swedish Blue duck, a rare breed originating in19th century Swedish Pomerania, now divided between north-west Poland and north-east Germany.. Complicated genetics because the blue color is caused by a dilution gene "fading" black. If two blue ducks are bred together odds are that 50% of the ducklings will be blue, 25% will be black, and 25% splashed with combinations of blue and black and white. But if a black and a splashed are the parents then all the ducklings will be blue. Breed status is considered critical.

There's also one white turkey, a pen with a mother goose and several goslings, and the outlier.

An emu. More than a hatchling, less than adult. Does not look
very happy to be here. But quietly in its pen, tolerating the gawkers.

Busy day. There's one more barn to visit. No livestock or poultry. Antique tractors.

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