July 27, 2009

Ridgeview Dairy Farm in Argyle, New York

When I was growing up my parents and grandparents raised cows, chickens and pigs. They had longtime friends who lived in Argyle and also raised animals and did farming. We tended to spend a lot of time with them since they had the same interests. Often we would help them with a particular farming task and they would return the favor with whatever we needed done. When we drove to Argyle growing up, my father would roll all the windows down and proclaim that he LOVED the smell of cow manure and corn silage. All the while my sister and I gagged ~quite dramatically I might add. I was always the oldest of all my parent's friend's kids. And the Argyle friends' kids came along when I was 9. Their son was about 4 years old when they were in the thick of farming. That little boy LIVED and BREATHED anything farm related. Well, his father eventually got out of farming....he always had a "regular" job anyway and it just got to be too much. The couple ended up getting a divorce and needless to say we didn't see a whole lot of them. I get kind of emotional (yup, me..) when I see the kids...all grown up now...AND the son is a big time FARMER which is actually no surprise. He is undoubtedly living his lifelong dream of being a dairy farmer. For the past 3 years or so he had been renting a farm and running it himself. It was a dairy farm which he worked for the whole 3 years to turn over to Certified Organic. Then he decided that it was counterproductive for him to try to rent from someone else....so he bought his own 50 acre farm. Every time we would run into his mother we would tell her that we wanted to bring the kids over to see the animals and the working farm but never seemed to have (make) the time to follow through. So once again after seeing her last week (and not seeing my sister much at all due to the hectic baseball schedule) we bit the bullet and made the trip. It was better than any school field trip. The farmer and his girlfriend made time in their busy farming schedule to show us around and answer questions...and they didn't hesitate to let us know that they had to get back to their work...because chores need to be done before the 4:30pm milking time.
In this barn, 65 dairy cows are housed. I have to tell you specifically about the conditions these cows are cared for in. Although the barn is old, it has huge fans on the end that draw the hot air out and provide circulation of air. There was a cool breeze throughout the stalls where the cows are hooked with a chain but loosely and such that they can lay down if they want or stand up. They had good looking fresh hay in front of them and the blue buckets in front of them are filled fresh every 10 minutes by a built in water spicket. The cows had plenty of room between them. They don't go to a milking parlor, they are milked right in their own area. To music. The barn had a sound system piped throughout. Hearing top 40 music in the barn actually made it seem like a cool place to work. Although it must have been potent in there because even I could smell it.

The several contraptions that hook to their utters are also hooked to the steel lines that run from the stall over head to the big milk tank where secure bio protocols are in use. I think that means clean? The farmer moves down the line of 65 cows milking each of them individually.
The farmer (Dan) said they get 7,000 gallons of milk every other day. A refrigerated truck comes to take the milk. He used to supply to Stewart's but he said they don't pay the farmer what he deserves, so he sells his milk to a co-op. He is working on getting his current farm switched to organic and said that he will get 3 times more money for the organic milk that will be produced.

Other than the dairy cows, they had one horse, 4 pet goats, 2 dogs, 15-20 heifers (one year old cows) and banty chickens and some baby chicks.

The baby calves stole the show for the kids. This little guy below licked and tried to suckle on my littlest nieces fingers. Needless to say we are going to HAVE to go back. Reagan was surely impressed by the vastness of owning the land and THAT MANY cows and other animals. I think it made an impression on her that he SELLS milk to the stores and that our milk ORIGINATES right there. She was actually a little grossed out by that, but we explained the homogenization process and she was better. I was mindful during the visit of the respect we must give these hardworking beyond explanation people that do what they do for our food supply. How ridiculous that someone would consider heaping more tax on a farmer.....
Reagan asked on the way home if he is rich. My sister and I almost in unison answered..."If you call doing what you love rich..then he certainly is.

smart bear in the adks

I hope I don't come into contact with the bear named "yellow-yellow" during my next backpack trip. I don't use a bear vault, but this girl may figure out what do with a coin by then.

July 26, 2009

Heading to the Sandy Koufax World Series in Battle Creek, Michigan

One of the other Devil Cat Baseball Mom's shared this picture with me yesterday. #21 is Greg ready to touch homeplate and celebrate with his team after hitting his second homerun of the state tournament. Unfortunately, his own team came in second and was unable to advance to the AABC World Series, but the champions invited him to join their roster. He's going to Michigan!! This is one of those "once in a lifetime" opportunities in the sport of baseball. My father and my husband are accompanying him. I am hoping for hour by hour text updates....maybe I should have them join twitter before they go.

July 18, 2009

angel in the outfield

Greg was pitching in a little league tournament 4 months after my grandfather died in 2005. Greg was only 9 when he announced before the championship game that he was going to pitch to win the tournament for Grampa Hoddie. And...he did. So now, when I ask for help from above during the nail biter games, I'm not asking god for assistance with striking out a tough hitter or giving Greg a little extra power in his bat...I am asking my grandfather. It is quite common for me to ask (ok, beg) my grandfather during a clutch situation to help make something happen. Because, I know if he could do something he would. Yesterday we played two games and split, so going into today we had to win both in order to move onto the championship game of the league tournament. Greg didn't pitch the first day of the tournament and ended up getting hit in the wrist in the second game. He sat out the last couple innings and went to the ER for x-rays. Nope, not broken...but "no sports until monday". Ummm...yeah, right. He's gotta PITCH or there will be no "monday". Needless to say, we taped him up, medicated him up and he was ready to go. Or was he? Three quarters of the way to Valley Falls, he said he needs to throw up and we should pull over. He makes sure we know that it is not because he is sick. He is nervous. He has been *itching all the way down about needing music to get him psyched for the game. I was wondering why the kid that warmed up to be a goalie for hockey to brittney spears "hit me baby one more time" was being so choosy this morning. Instead of becoming frustrated myself...I decided to play "When I Look to the Sky" by train which is sort of my theme song when I want to think about my grampa. The usual needless bickering in the backseat subsided and a calmness came over all of us. Soon we were at the ballpark. Greg pitched great and hit a 3 run out of the park homer to help himself secure the first win they needed to advance. Moments like that make me feel for sure that my grandfather is with us.

He would have gotten just as big of a kick out of Reagan searching for the home run ball for her brother. A sign that we must be basking in some sort of serenity from above. I followed Reagan as she set out on a run to find the ball for her brother. When we got out behind the fence, she was the one to spot the ball hiding in tall grass on the other side of a swampy creek. I told her we would never be able to get it without landing in the water. She said NO, we would have to find a branch to fish the ball closer to us so that she could reach out and get it. We found a very long but not very dead hanging branch. I twisted and twisted it but it would not break off. I told Reagan, it wont break off, we arent going to be able to get the ball. She said "We are NOT giving up, I AM GETTING THAT BALL FOR MY BROTHER!" So in the 85 degree heat...I twisted and twisted the branch until it finally let go and we managed to get the ball within reach of Reagan who had to brace herself on the bank of this little creek in order to succeed. She was so proud to present the ball to her brother who appeared surprised by how important it was to his sister that she got it for him. I think I even heard him say thank you.

July 9, 2009


It seems that all cute little Yorkies have cute little names...Daisy, Skittles, Chloe, Kali. And we went and named our pint size puppy a big dog name like HUDSON. Needless to say his big dog name has morphed into the cutsie nickname of "Hutsie". I thought it was time I posted an updated picture of the little guy.

July 7, 2009

A Hall of Fame Fourth

For all of the time my family spends at the ballpark, it is quite fitting that we spent America's Birthday at the birthplace of it's past time...Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Greg's travel league had the opportunity to play at Doubleday Field which is adjacent to the Hall of Fame. Sherilee and her nephew had come to visit and although he skipped the Poison Concert, he was geared up for his first trip to Cooperstown. My mother and father also joined us for the chance to see Greg play at this historic field. We set out at 9am planning to stop along the way in the little town of Palatine Bridge. There is a population of Amish people on New Turnpike Road and we were hoping that it might be baking day. While the trip through that countryside is always impressive, we did not find a bake sale. We did see three Amish boys in their straw hats and obviously handmade clothes outside working at one farm and an Amish girl outside her home "mowing" the lawn...with a hand tool. Up until about last year, Greg was totally creeped out by the Amish men, so we promptly began teasing him that the girl who looked about his age was scoping him out. Clearly Greg could not marry into an Amish family as there is far too much work that would be expected of him. Anyway...we made our way to Cooperstown by Noon despite a detour around their fourth of july parade. The tour of the Hall of Fame can be as short or as long as you want it to be. Everyone in my family has been there at least 3 times. For two years I bought my Dad and Greg memberships to the Hall of Fame which entitled them to unlimited visits as well as other perks. During a few of their trips they were the only visitors in the whole place, so they were able to view the exhibits at their own pace; without be rushed by people trying to peek over your shoulder. We spent about 2 hours rounding out the visit with a trip to the gift shop. Dan was looking to replace some of his (continuously worn) fire department shirts with some baseball t's and Greg begged for a new Mets hat. We got out cheap with reagan who really just wanted a pink baseball bat shaped pen. Whewwww! Oh, she also wants to be inducted into the hall of fame at some point in her life as the baseball sister who has attended the most games. I think that has potential as a new attraction. We strolled through some of the gift shops where Greg talked us into buying a sterling silver #21 pendant/necklace (a must for all travel baseball players). Finally, it was time to eat. We settled on Cooley's Tavern which my father knew to be a favorite of Greg's Cooperstown Native High School coach. It was good food at a decent price with quick service. Reagan took a picture of her pizza rolls to show the owner of the pizza place we always go to. She thinks she can persuade him to add them to the menu! Greg had to get dressed for the game by 4pm and was indeed ready to go by the time the rest of his team gathered at the field. Some team pictures were taken at the entrance to the field and they awaited their turn to occupy the dugouts. The game was to a nine inning game and ironically we have 9 pitchers on the 11 man team. Each one of them got an inning. Greg got to start. The game did not count in our standings. We had already secured a spot in the tournament that should they win, qualifies them for nationals in Michigan. So, the fact that we came from behind, tied it up and held that tie until the bottom of the ninth was mostly entertainment value. The final score was 12-11. No doubt, had we been "playing to win" we would have beat the Niskayuna team who didn't seem to care that it should be more important that all of the pitchers would have liked a turn on that mound. We packed up the cars and headed for home at 9pm. Twice we were able to see fireworks going off in the distance. The only ones we would see this fourth....hey, I'd trade seeing fireworks for watching my son pitch in Cooperstown any day!!