Everhart Sheep Farm

On July 12, I visited the 42 acre sheep farm owned by Michael Everhart and his wife, Alex.  They have 20 acres of pasture and the rest timber located near Mountain Park, NC.  Currently he has 50 ewes and 30 lambs.  He started his sheep farm in August 2017 when he purchased the land, put up fencing and begin purchasing sheet in October and November.  He also has a llama to keep the coyotes out of the pasture.

He sells his sheep when they are anywhere from 80-120 pounds and under age 1 to a broker.  When he has a pregnant sheep, he moves her to a pen a week before delivery and leaves the mother and lamb for about a week before moving the lamb in with a group of other lambs.  At about 10-12 weeks, he starts the weaning process and separating the lambs by sex.

Michael also showed me how to check the lambs eyes for worms and to see if it’s healthy.  He does this frequently.  He rotates the sheep around the farm to different pastures so they have fresh grass.  Michael comes to the farm early in the morning to check on his sheep and comes in the afternoon when he gets off work to feed and check on them again.

Michael grew up on a small farm in Lexington and went to NC State and studied Agribusiness and Livestock & Poultry Management at the Ag Institute.  You can tell from being around Michael that he has a passion for working with animals and has a bright future in this business!  He hopes to build a home on this farm property in the future.

This is a beautiful view that will be a perfect location for a home one day!
View looking down the hill towards the sheep barn.
Several sheep were waiting. They knew it was feeding time!
This is a pen and expecting sheep would stay in.
Michael is getting ready to feed the sheep and they are excited about this. They all run after him.
Michael is showing the feed.
Demonstrating the process of checking the lamb’s eyes.
He determined that this lamb would need more worming medicine by looking at its eyes.

Surry County Extension Office

On July 10 and 11, 2018 I helped out at The Surry County Extension Office in Dobson while they were hosting an “Ultimate Food Challenge” camp for elementary age children.  The first day we went to a local produce farm called “The Farm” and on the way there I had the opportunity to ride with Horticulture Extension Agent Joanna Radford.  When I asked about her job, she informed me that she holds pesticide classes, she does farm visits, homeowners will call her for horticulture assistance, she leads the VineDressers (grape growers association) group that meets 4 times a year, she plans programs for farmers during their less busy winter season at 0 to little cost, she also helps the Beekeepers Association that meets monthly, organized the Agventures Grant program and helps others with grants.  She informs farmers of the many programs that the extension office has to offer through direct mailing, emails, and working with the local Farm Bureau.

Once we got to The Farm, the children learned about a working produce farm from owner Mayghan Watson and got to purchase the fresh produce they were going to need for their lunch!

Owner Mayghan Watson spoke to youth about her farm.
Youth got to tour The Farm’s Produce Store and purchase items.
Learning about hydroponics!

We returned to the Extension Office and learned about food safety and to prepare Chicken & Spinach Pasta.  I worked with one group of children to help them with basic kitchen skills.  This was a team effort and each child participated.  After enjoying their delicious lunch, they cleaned up and had a few fun team building activities.

Mae learned how to cut chicken according to the recipe.

The next day, Travis Love, a NCDA Poultry Inspector and Bryan Cave, Surry County Extension Director, talked to children about impact that poultry has on our local area and economy.  We all learned that North Carolina is 1st in the nation in poultry production and there are 3 large companies locally that employ thousands of people.  Surry County ranked 25th in the state for overall Agricultural sales, 12.9% of all jobs are related to Ag, Surry County has 1,258 farms with the average of 102 acres and an infrastructure investment of $662,000.  The average farmers’ age is 60 and 1 farmer feeds 164 people.

Learning about the protective gear that you have to wear for Biosecurity reasons when you visit a chicken farm.

After participating in some fun communication and food safety activities, it was time to get cooking again!  Today children make Chicken Cheese & Pesto Quesadillas, 7 Layer Dip Burritos, and Healthy Fruit Pizza.  My team of children worked hard and well together even though they had to go up and down to use a kitchen due to the building layout.  We all enjoyed eating our lunch together and many children loved what they made, even though when they saw the ingredients they were hesitant.

Making fruit pizza!
Learning how to read a recipe!


Dobson Farmer’s Market

On Thursday, June 14, I attended a Farmer’s Market in Dobson, NC to speak with local farmers and learn about their business.  On this day, there were 2 vendors set up.  One was Haynes Farm from Dobson.  Owned and managed by Hannah Haynes Johnson, she grows a wide variety of vegetables and herbs.  Hannah has a beautiful display, but my favorite part were the recipe cards next to her vegetables.  She mentioned that some people don’t know how to cook vegetables like spaghetti squash, so this helps customers and encourages them to try a new food!

Hannah helping a customer with her purchases
Her vegetables are beautifully displayed.
Great prices!
Loved the recipe ideas!

Apples & Spice Crafts and Baker, Lisa Slawter was also present at the Farmer’s Market.  She makes and sells cakes, cookies, muffins, brownies, fudge, and woodworking crafts.  She also sells eggs and vegetables for Rings’ Farms.  They also hand stitch pillows and bags.

Lisa has a website and has her crafts in 2 retail stores.  She does go to craft shows to sell as well.  Here is a link to her website: http://www.applesandspicecrafts.com/

Lisa is selling a few baked goods.
Woodworking craft items for sale

Usually there are 3-4 farmers a week at the market and they are currently looking for more to participate.  The Town of Dobson along with Surry County Farmers Market promotes the event on social media and advertising.

Haynes Farm Visit

On Monday, July 9, 2018 I had the opportunity to spend the day with Hannah Haynes Johnson, owner and operator of Haynes Farm in Dobson, NC.  Hannah has a Masters Degree in Animal Science from NC State and after her father passed away, she moved back home to take care of the family farm.  The farm has around 200 acres and grows a variety of produce including tomatoes (varieties roma, pink girls, cherokee purple), spaghetti squash, butternut squash, beans, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, beets, zucchini, kale, lettuce, arugula, cucumbers, yellow squash, corn, and herbs such as sage, cilantro, oregano, basil, and dill.  She sells the produce at The Dobson and Mount Airy Farmers Market and to local vineyard restaurants.

Hannah showed me that this tomato has Blossom End Rot which is a calcium deficiency.
This is the end of the season for broccoli.
One plant produces a good deal of brussel sprouts.
Hannah and I picked these cucumbers and then she washed them to prepare for the farmer’s market.
Squash and Zucchini was picked early in the morning to avoid the heat.

Along with produce, Hannah has about 60 head of cattle and show cattle.  She breaks show cows and sells them which is a good source of farm income.  It takes her about 2 weeks working with the cow everyday to break it which includes washing the cow, clipping her and she uses positive reinforcement working with cows. She used one of the chicken houses to build a show cattle equipment barn and it was very impressive all of the work involved in this.

Hannah also operates a large rooster house for Perdue.  The roosters come to her from Perdue when they are around 20-21 weeks old and stay for 6-7 weeks.  Perdue then picks them up and places them at different hen farms to spike production.  A representative from Perdue comes and draws blood 2 times and takes a swallow test to check for any diseases.

Hannah shows me how she used positive reinforcement to teach the cows to be led around.

Hannah starts her day at 6:30 am by feeding chickens, picking produce, checking on the cows, and doing all of the many jobs that comes with a farm.  She is also the Vice Chairperson for the Young Farmers & Ranchers Board of Farm Bureau.  She has one employee that worked for her father and has continued to help her.  Although managing the farm is new to Hannah, she has a passion to succeed.  I was very impressed with her willingness to learn new things and her positive attitude!

Ag in the Classroom Workshop

On June 11, 2018 I attended the Ag in the Classroom Yadkin County Going Local Workshop.  We started off our day at Hunter Farms located in Boonville, NC.  This is a large farm that mostly grows produce.  It was a family operation that has plans to grow in the future.  It was interesting to walk the farm and learn the many different aspects of farm life.

Mr. Hunter took us on a 2 hour tour of his farm. It was interesting to learn how they use drip irrigation to make sure their plants have the right amount of water and nutrients to grow.

We transitioned to the Yadkin County Agriculture Center for informative sessions on how to increase agriculture awareness in the classroom sponsored by NC Farm Bureau.  We had hands on learning activities that could be easily transferred to a classroom.  I enjoyed the “Find Your Future Career” activity that we were able to participate in.  The complete lesson can be found at   https://www.agclassroom.org/teacher/matrix/lessonplan.cfm?lpid=59

Surry County Schools Kenan Fellows Kathy Brintle and Darin Haywood shared with us “How to Host an Ag Event” and the necessary steps needed to have a successful event.  It was a good experience hearing and learning from them.  This was a great day and NC Farm Bureau Ag in the Classroom knows how to put on an engaging workshop!

Kathy & Darin, Kenan Fellows, shared a lot of valuable information about hosting an Ag Event.

Summer Institute Professional Development

We had a 5 day professional development learning experience at NCCAT in Cullowhee, NC from June 18-June 22, 2018.  This was an amazing opportunity!  Among the many things I learned was how to use social media tools such as Twitter for a Professional Learning Network and other tech tools such as blogs, Google Tools, GooseChase, and INaturalist.  An interesting part of the PD was learning our own Myers-Briggs personality type and strategies on how to work with others based on their personality type.

I enjoyed the Branding session and worked to create my brand based on input from others.  I am a positive educator that maximizes student potential for career matchmaking!

Other PD that I will put to practical use was on digital portfolios, project based learning, and culturally relevant pedagogy.  We had such deep, rich conversations about these topics and this helped me to reflect on how I can put this to use as a Career Coach.

Wednesday was a lot of fun as we explored Cullowhee while completing a team scavenger hunt using GooseChase.  This would be a wonderful learning experience for students around their school!

The entire PD was an enriching experience that I will be able to use as I implement Agriculture awareness in the classroom.

I’m in the Tuckasagee River learning how to use kick-net’s to learn how to collect samples of aquatic macroinvertebrates!

What is Kenan Fellows?

Founded in 2000, the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership addresses the critical need for high-quality professional development for educators, and is the largest (science, technology, engineering and math) STEM-focused teacher leadership program in North Carolina.

To learn more about Kenan Fellows including the fellowships, click HERE.

The Farm Internship

On June 12 and 13, 2018 I visited “The Farm” in Dobson, NC.  This husband and wife farm has a produce and agribusiness.  Their top produce is cucumbers, tomatoes, and winter squash.  They also produce watermelon, cantaloupe, okra, green beans, squash, zucchini, peppers and broccoli.  Using hydroponics in a greenhouse, they produce lettuce, kale, and swiss chard.  They have recently added chickens for egg production and after their fall agribusiness shuts down they slaughter their pigs for sausage.  They have recently started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program with over 30 members.  The cost to join was $300 for 10 weeks of fresh food.

They have around 90 acres of produce at two different locations and are also harmonized GAP certified which means that they adhere to the highest food safety standards from the USDA.  Their agribusiness starts in September and runs until November each year.  This is a family fun business that features a corn maze, pumpkin patch, corn box, pizza farm, playground, hayrides, chicken coop, barrel train rides, sunflower patch, rat race, bouncin’ barnyard, pipe slide, animal viewing area, popcorn garden, apple cannon, fire pit, petting zoo, and concessions.  This business works well with the local school systems and childcare centers for field trips that are planned by the owner Mayghan Watson, a former elementary teacher.  Mayghan makes sure there are lots of educational opportunities for children.

While at the farm, I learned a great deal about the business, helped load and clean cucumbers on a conveyor belt cleaning machine, make deliveries, and prepare items for the upcoming CSA.   I noticed how hard the work was, but could see the dedication that Mayghan and her husband Josh have to The Farm and the community!

Husband and wife team Josh and Mayghan start to load the cucumbers to be washed.
After being washed, cucumbers are rolled on a microcleaning foam section of they conveyor belt.

First Day Blogging!

First day of Kenan Fellows Summer Institute has been awesome!  We are gathered at NCCAT in Cullowhee, NC for professional development.  I’m looking forward to working with Surry County Farm Bureau to increase Agriculture awareness in Surry County Schools.  I had a good time working with new colleagues learning how to set up a blog!