Sunday, September 30, 2007
20 -24 September 2007
We are back at Maumee State Park for a campout with the Toledo Chapter of the Good Sam Club. We were introduced this group at the State Samboree in Wauseon.
Unlike the Winnebago group, these have RV’s up different types, but have the same basic bond of enjoying the RV lifestyle either for a few weeks a year up to and including full timers. This was a good time with a chance to meet a number of new and interesting folks.
This was our first campout HOBO dinner with everyone bringing their own choice of meats and sharing common side dishes in a pot luck fashion with the club providing the vegetables for the HOBO pots. This turned out to be a great meal, where again I managed to eat too much. I think I set a personal record for the number of ears of corn eaten at a single session.
We also were introduced to another form of bean bag competition and a game I have seen referred to as rattle snake golf.
The harvest moon occurred during our stay and it was easy to understand how the farmers before the age of modern equipment with lights and other high tech support looked forward to this fall moon to harvest the crops in good weather around the clock with the aid of this bright night light in the sky.
As always, Maumee Bay State park is a great place to be to enjoy the wildlife and the great opportunities for bike riding. It was also my first opportunity to try out my new kite purchased on the trip into Michigan earlier in the summer. I managed to do fairly well in my first attempts with only a few high speed nose down crashes. Finally, we had a huge campfire each night of the stay and shared stories around the fire until late into the night.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
16-20 September 2007
After the hectic activities of the Samboree, we headed to a small state park in Northwest Ohio- Harrison Lake State Park for a little slow time. We did some biking around the lake, enjoyed the scenic surroundings and when the mosquitoes allowed, the traditional campfire evening. The campground has some very large spaces, one of which we really enjoyed for our visit. I also made a special effort to get to the Park water tower one morning to see the locally famous vultures, which spend some of their time roosting on the tower.
One day we drove over to Shipsawana, IN for the Tues Flea Market with hundreds of vendors. We managed to see most of it without buying too much stuff. We took advantage of being in Amish country to visit a few of the stores we discovered in past visits to stock up on some specialty food items.
On our a last full day in the area, we drove to Archbold, OH to look over the town that has been described in the past as the most well to do small town in Ohio. It was a very well kept place with pleasant streets and neighborhoods. There were several large businesses in evidence, which may account for the well to do reputation. We also found an old fashioned diner, which was too good to pass up.
Next we are off to another group gathering with folks that we met at the Samboree.
Monday, September 17, 2007
16 Sept 2007
The Samboree came to a conclusion today and the 408 RV’s that attended slowly left for home or further adventures. All things considered we enjoyed the experience and met a number of interesting people and enjoyed the entertainment. One of the interesting things that we observed was how friendly everyone was and the conscious effort made to have fun. Another thing was the length of time many of these folks had been coming to these events.
It is also certainly true that the average age of this group of active campers is impressive. At one of the entertainment events, they asked that any couples married more than 40 years stand. The majority of those there (close to 800 people) stood up. After proceeding to 50 and then 60 years of marriage, there were still a good number. It turned out that there were at least a half dozen married 60 years and two couples married 62 years. There were also two ladies there that were 93 and 95 years old. The 95 year old mentioned that she had driven an RV to the event last year! Made me feel young-something that does not occur all that often anymore.
In the end, these events are a great place to meet people with stories to tell.
We will be moving on to Harrison Lake State Park in Northwest Ohio today and then will attend a local chapter of the Good Sam Club campout next weekend.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
15 September 2007
On Thursday, we headed to a modern dairy farm. I spent a good part of my first decade on a family dairy farm with 100 or so dairy cows, horses, chicken, turkeys and many acres in crop production. This is how I remember a dairy farm, herding the cows in from the fields, cleaning up after them and planting and harvesting the crops. This “farm” is nothing like that. It is fully automated with only the land the buildings sit on along and a storage area for cattle feed and waste by products actually in use. The cattle never leave the buildings and herding them only involved opening and closing the various gates to move them from one area to another.
Even though this is more like a factory than a farm to me, it was very well organized and within the limitations of it really being a milk factory, they seemed to take good care of the cattle in terms of looking after their health and to the extent possible in the confining spaces, their social well being. They moved cattle around in groups to avoid isolation issues and tracked some of their individual traits to treat them as individuals, where possible.
The actual milking process is fully automated with milking machines that monitor the progress of each cow and automatically completes the process. When the cows in the milking row are all done a mechanical arm is raised and the cows are moved to be replaced by the next group. There are 700 animals in the two barns and likely over five hundred are in the milking cycle every day. Each cow is milked three times a day for maximum output from each animal.
The farm does most of it own doctoring the animals and delivers all the calves. This is as many as 7-10 a week, which are shipped off for raising off the premises. Cows are artificially inseminated also by the farm and all animals are in one of three phrases, milking producing, pregnant, or in a resting cycle.
It was very interesting, but made me very glad that I am not living and working on a farm. It is certainly not the rural country living I remembered for people or animals. But then-nothing never stays the same.
Anneke was especially interested in this farm, because it is Dutch owned. Several Dutch families have moved to the area starting this kind of dairy farm.