Food

Country Living Expo

Learning from the ground up

Attend

What: Country Living Expo and Cattlemen's Winter School

Where: Zoom

More:

WHEN: Fri.-Sun., Jan. 29-31

Info: http://www.skagit.wsu.edu/countrylivingexpo

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

When registering for the virtual Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winter School taking place Jan. 29-31, a required field directs participants to check a box indicating whether they’re an urban resident, rural resident, small farm owner/renter (five acres or less), farm owner (six acres or more) or “none of the above.”

Living near downtown Bellingham, I reside firmly in the “urban resident” category, and a perusal of the programs being offered at the event presented by the Livestock Master Foundation, WSU Skagit and Snohomish County Extensions, Livestock Advisor Program, and the Cattlemen’s Association confirms classes are available for everyone from backyard gardening enthusiasts such as myself to those who make farming a full-time affair.

Typically, involvement in the annual conference would require a hop, skip and jump to Stanwood High School, but since programs will be online this year, it won’t be necessary to hit the highway. Instead, sign up for as many as 12 of the 80 classes taking place Friday through Sunday, and then make a schedule without having to include travel plans in the itinerary.

With a focus on regenerative farming—which is also discussed in the keynote speech and documentary, Kiss the Ground—expect to find classes on everything from Conservation Practices for Raising Pigs in the PNW (with Everson’s Alluvial Farms as the case study), Composting Livestock Mortalities and Butcher Waste, Pasture Evaluation and Management, Summer Beef, and Rain Water Catchments for Agriculture and Small Farms.

Personally, I’m looking for courses that will help fine-tune and build my garden offerings and kitchen skills. Eyeing my choices, I’m tempted to sign up for Backyard Berries, where I might finally discover why the blueberries my boyfriend has been attempting to grow for the past four or five years have never thrived. Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation, Canning 101, Fruit Tree Pruning, Grow Lucious Tomatoes, Sourdough Bread Baking for Beginners, Hops Growing, Cooking With Winter Vegetables, Introduction to Cooking Spanish Tapas, and Seed Saving for Home Gardens are also on my radar—as is a class that will hopefully teach me how to make the most of the Instant Pot I was gifted last Christmas.

Were I to acquiesce to the appeals of my fella to fill our double lot with livestock expanding beyond a small flock of chickens, I’d probably also be looking into classes on Feeding Dairy Goats, Raising Waterfowl, Sheep Dairying 101 (or Oh Sheep! I Have a Sheep, Now What?), Raising Heritage Turkeys, or an offering for beginning swine farmers, aptly titled From Pig to Pork Chop. But being that I checked the box for “urban resident,” I’ll be more restrained in my choices—at least for now.

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