Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Explore Horses

Love horses?  Explore the wonderful world of horses through 4-H.  Horse groups are forming.  Target meeting dates are the 2nd Thursday and 4th Tuesday of the month.  
You do not have to own a horse to learn more about horses.  Many opportunities exist through the 4-H Horse program, from horse bowls to artistic competitions.  The NC 4-H Horse program has a list of opportunities through the 4-H horse program.   See the NC 4-H Horse facebook here.
  Be sure to check in to confirm the date and time by calling 264-3061 or email karee_mackey@ncsu.edu

Monday, February 11, 2013

Raise a Turkey

Wanting to "adopt" a turkey?  Here is a program for 4-H'ers to receive a baby turkey, raise it, then show it at the NC State Fair.  

The 2013 Youth Market Turkey Show is gearing up for another fun and exciting year!!
Limited numbers of turkey poults are available on a first come, first serve basis.  The date to Commit and get your name in is March 1.
Turkey pickup will be June 13th
 and 14th, time TBA, with the turkey check in on Oct. 10th and the show taking place on Oct. 18th

If you have questions, see details

Rural Youth Loan Program

Calling all entrepreneurs.  Maybe you want to raise livestock or grow and sell vegetables or flowers.   Maybe you need equipment to be able to do your project.   If you have some great ideas for starting an agricultural income-producing project, there is a resource that might be helpful for you.  Start-up funds are available to 10-21 year olds through the FSA (Farm Service Agency) Rural Youth Loan program.  To find out more, click here, or see the FSA office, which is in the same building as Cooperative Extension.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

Teen Opportunity

4-H Congress
June 22-25
13 year olds and older 4-H participants
Join in the annual state event with over 600 youth, volunteers and agents from across the state. Meet 4-H’ers from every county in the state, attend workshops, fun activities, see NC State, experience dorm life, and more.  Learn more things you can do in 4-H.  Leadership tract and citizenship/civics tract.
See video HERE (last year's)
Register by May 20

for other teen events, see here

4-H Presentations

4-H Presentations 2013

4-H participants are encouraged to experience speaking in public, in front of an audience.  This can be done by sharing at a club meeting or other informal opportunities, or by formally participating in the 4-H Presentation competition program.
See here for more information on presentations and to see some on video! 
Let us know by March 18 if you want to give a presentation at the local level.

Local presentations:  Evening of March 28 (tentative); an alternate date for scheduling conflicts can be arranged

Those who qualify at the county level are eligible for district competition.

District Activity Day:
Saturday, April 27;  Competition starts 10:30 am;  Haywood Community College

State Competition:  Saturday, June 22, Raleigh

4-H Livestock

What: Western NC Livestock Judging Clinic and Mock Contest
When: March 23, 2013
Where: Fletcher, NC Mountain State Fairgrounds
Who:  This event is open to all youth who wish to learn more about livestock judging.
Who:  This event is open to all youth across North Carolina ages 9-19.  Youth have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of showing livestock.  Youth are asked to pick one species of livestock to be covered for the entire weekend (Swine, Meat Goats, Lambs, Cattle).  This is a hands on clinic and youth are encouraged to bring their own animal but it is not required.  Contact the 4-H office for a registration form.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fruit Fun

Ways to have fun with fruits and berries:
Grow strawberries in a creative container. The Seascape variety does well in containers
Make an edible landscape with blueberry bushes.  Have fun making blueberry pies, pancakes, muffins and more!
Make something crazy in the kitchen.  Invent a recipe, experiment- add raspberries to your salad.  Make a raspberry vinegar.
Blackberries make great dyes.  Experiment with plant dyes from your garden. 
Apples connect us with our heritage.   Carve dried apple faces with your extra apples. 
Play with your food.  Food art is lots of fun. 
Explore fruit drying.  Make your own solar food dehydrator.

Heirloom Apples

A Bite of Heritage:  Heirloom Apples

Decades ago, when the high- elevation mountain communities were still rural and often sparsely populated, every farm and family nestled among the ridges had their own apple orchards.  These apple orchards were heavily valued, tended over the years so they could provide sustenance for families through the better part of a year.  For many, a root cellar full of apples was a comforting sight in the depths of a Watauga County winter. 

By 1930, Southerners had developed nearly 1400 varieties of apples, with over 10,000 varieties found nationwide.   They ranged in size from softballs to quarters, and were colored with even more variation: reds, greens, yellows and more, striped, speckled, and blushed.   It would not have been uncommon to call up a North Carolina plant nursery and choose from over 160 varieties for the backyard.   Regrettably, today more than a thousand of these varieties are believed to be extinct. 

Luckily, North Carolina holds claim to one of today’s most reputable heirloom apple experts, Creighton Lee Calhoun, Jr., of Pittsboro.   A retired Army colonel with degrees in agronomy and bacteriology, Calhoun started collecting old apple varieties in the early 1980s.  "I came to the conclusion that the South was losing an irreplaceable part of its agricultural heritage," says Calhoun.  Beginning in 1988, with the help of his wife, Edith, he poured his research into a book, Old Southern Apples, which many consider to be the bible of heirloom apples.

In order to protect the delights of the palate and more importantly, genetic diversity, many are renewing their interest in heirloom apple varieties.   Heirloom apples also help cure the functionally-devoid landscapes that sprinkle today’s landscapes, by bringing a highly-useful plant to our yards.   "The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture," Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1821.  Many Watauga County residents share that sentiment, and to serve those interests the Watauga Extension Center has worked to acquire several heirloom varieties to be available through the annual 4-H Plant Sale.

Two varieties are available through Watauga County 4-H Fruit Plant Sale:  Virginia Beauty and Yellow Transparent. 
For a late season apple great for root cellaring, the Virginia Beauty also traces back nearly 200 years.  The fruit is medium to large, often lopsided, with smooth, dark red or purplish skin. Flesh is greenish yellow, fine-grained, tender and juicy. Virginia Beauty ripens in October and is a good keeper.
The Gala variety, while not a member of the heirloom ranks, is a popular favorite that is excellent for fresh eating.  Originating in New Zealand, the Gala is perfect for pies, baked goods, and other culinary delights.  The Gala is medium-sized, keeps well, and ripens in September.  

Yellow Transparent (Early Transparent, Early June, Russian Transparent) - One of many old Southern apples of Russian origin brought into this country in 1870 by the USDA. Resistant to cedar apple rust and scab and can be grown in all areas of the South including the warmer coastal plain. Fruit is medium sized with smooth transparent yellow skin. White-fleshed, tender, fine-grained and juicy. Ripens early in June to July.