Life of a Farm Boy

As I was flipping through photos, I was struck by what a great life farming provides. Sure it is hard work and dirty, but there is no better place to grow up in my opinion.

I always knew that I enjoyed the farm life, but wasn’t sure if I was an anomaly. There is a 12 and 13 year age gap between my youngest brothers and myself. This has allowed me to really take in what it is like growing up on a farm. I’m thoroughly convinced  that we are incredibly blessed to live this life.

Recently, a woman visiting the farm mentioned that this was her daughter’s dream. I mulled that over. My reality was her dream. Wow! How lucky am I? How lucky are my brothers?

Living on a farm can be inconvenient, dirty, and hard. Going on vacation means finding someone to feed the stock. After a ball game on Saturday, we return to make fence repairs, medicate animals, or clean barns out. By a young age, we kids know and have experienced the miracle of life and the woes of death. Everyday is a go outside day (sometimes it is just a matter of how fast can we feed).

BUT, living on a farm is… well, just scroll through the photos. It is the life of my brothers. It is the life of farm boys.

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When it Rains: Weather Causes Challenges for Hog Farmers

For many in the world, rain is simply an inconvenience. Umbrellas go up, feet get wet, traffic gets worse, plans get ruined. It is just plain gross.

For some though, rain devastates. We all know that a lack of rain can ruin crops. We have all heard of farmers praying for rain, but there are also the days where farmers are praying for it to stop.

Recently, it rained, and rained…and rained some more. I had two flooded pastures, and the sheep had to wade puddles that were more like rivers to get to a dry pen. I was beyond ankle deep in mud. It frustrated me, but there wasn’t a thing to be done… well except transfer the sheep. I realized that for us, though, the rain and muck was an inconvenience. It was a bigger inconvenience than someone who doesn’t live on a farm, but compared to what my dad was dealing with, it was just an inconvenience.

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An example of the standing water we had on the farm

Dad is an environmental manager for several hog farms. His job is to oversee the management of the land on the farms, the lagoons (containing area for hog waste), and all waste treatment from the pigs. In short he manages dirt, poop, and crops…with people.

Examples of some of his duties include managing innovative growing and harvesting bio-mass (e.g. miscanthis, sorghum, etc.) for bio-fuels. He oversees how land renters are managing that piece of land. He also monitors lagoon levels at multiple hog farms. Lagoons cannot rise to a certain level. This is why the waste (aka manure) is pumped out and used as fertilizer on crops. It is a great way farms use resources. They can’t pump this waste on the land flippantly, though. They follow strict guidelines and regulations set forth by the state. Dad makes sure they follow these regulations.

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Pumping on hay fields for fertilizer

One of his biggest enemies, is rain. I remember as a little girl seeing how stressed he was because of a heavy rain. Why is it a stresser? Well, rain can fill up lagoons and make them rise over acceptable levels if not managed. Managing the levels take place with proactive measures by pumping when it is sunny and the crops can soak it all up. They also occur in the midst of the rain. Sometimes, no matter how proactive farmers are, Mother Nature will not cooperate. She just keeps on pounding the rain.

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A low level lagoon

Can they just pump in the rain on the wet ground? Absolutely not! Can they throw up their hands and say oh well? Nope! They work overtime. They haul in tankers to haul the waste away to keep the lagoon level down. This is expensive, costing thousands of dollars. Add this stress onto the fact that if they ever hit a high level, they have to report it to the state. If they have a spill, they get fined. There is major stress trying to protect the environment, abide by regulations, and fighting Mother Nature.

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During Christmas, it rained. My dad was on the phone a lot, making calls, making decisions, and making the drive to the farm that was 45 minutes away to monitor it. There was the potential that he was going to have to call his guys and say you have to work on Christmas. Is pig poop so important that he would have to take men away from their families on Christmas? It is when it rains. It is when they are looking at rising levels, fines, and damages. It is important because if they ignore it, they fail, and they hurt their community. So, like the majority of individuals who farm, they go out in the rain, and on Christmas if needed.

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Pumping on sunny days is a proactive way to manage for rainy days.

Takeaway: Lagoons are in the news a lot as a pollutant and farmers are portrayed as the polluters who willfully ruin the environment. The truth, though is they work very hard to protect it. My dad has been an environmental manager for more than 15 years. He is the kind of guy who when given too much change, he returns it. If he returns a couple of dollars, don’t you think he would follow regulations, and safeguard the environment even at the expense of blowing his budget and working on holidays? I do. I’ve seen it for almost two decades.

This post is Dad approved.

Family, Black-eyed peas, Collard Greens & 2016: Slow-cooked NC Eastern Style BBQ Recipe

Pork was the theme for our New Year’s Eve and Day. New Year’s Day was your typical southern fare with black-eyed peas cooked with ham hock, collard greens, bacon, and ham. If you didn’t eat collard greens and black-eyed peas, then, I’m sorry but wealth will not be in your 2016. It is tradition, you see, to eat greens and peas for good fortune.

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There isn’t really a tradition for New Year’s Eve in terms of food for our family. I made the command decision to cook a pork shoulder for BBQ (Eastern style of course), green beans, and loaded mashed potatoes. It was all good, but the pork was the star of the show. Clearly, it had to be, what with it being the last meal of 2015. It will not be left in 2015, though. It will surely make an appearance in 2016 at our house. I definitely recommend trying it at your house too!

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Ingredients: Pork Rub

  • 9 lb Boston Butt Pork Shoulder (this can vary based on the crowd you are feeding. 9lb fed our family of 6, and we had leftovers)
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Brown Sugar
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Liquid Smoke

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Ingredients: Sauce

  • 1.5 cups of white vinegar
  • 1.5 cups of cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of hot sauce

Instructions:

  1. Rinse your shoulder and pat it dry with paper towels. Set it on a piece of tin foil. Do not take any fat off or the bone out.
  2. Coat all sides of the shoulder with mustard. After all sides are coated, liberally sprinkle other seasonings on all sides of the meat. Squirt liquid smoke on once all seasonings are on.DSC_0665.jpg
  3. Dump all sauce ingredients into a crock pot on low heat.
  4. Place the meat (fat side up) and tin foil on a baking sheet and put it in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until the middle of the meat registers 95-100 degrees. The oven will create a nice bark on the meat.
  5. Take the meat out of the oven and place it in the crock pot full of sauce. Cook on low until the meat registers 140 degrees Fahrenheit (around 2 hours).DSC_0673.jpg
  6.  Once the temperature has been reached, take the meat and place it on a pan to shred. If there is any fat left on it, carve it away. Take two forks and shred the meat. It should fall right apart.DSC_0684DSC_0692.jpgDSC_0698.jpg
  7. Put the shredded meat back in the crock pot full of sauce for 10-15 minutes. Serve on sandwiches or by itself.DSC_0701.jpg

*Note: If you like things spicier, add more hot sauce and crushed red pepper flakes to the meat and sauce at the end. I also made a separate batch of sauce to put in a bottle and squirt on top of the BBQ. The only difference in it and what was put in the crock pot, is I didn’t include apple juice and simmered it in a pot. 

This makes a great family meal, and provides loads of leftovers for our family of 6. We have even frozen the meat for pre-made meals. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! [p

NC State Fair: Part 2–Goats

For 13 years, we have packed the trailer full of goats to take to the State Fair. In 2015, we maintained our habits, and packed the trailer with goats.Back in our hay day (no pun intended), Alec and I would have 12 goats between us at the fair. We have since downsized our goat herd, but always have something to bring. This year we brought 7 does. Unfortunately, we only showed 6 because Nala decided to lose too many teeth prematurely, making her ineligible to show. Does have to have a certain amount of baby teeth, indicating they are under 2 years of age to show. Nala was indeed under 2, but her teeth told another story. Oh well! She didn’t have to get a bath.

Because Alec had classes, only Isaac, Gideon, and I showed. Of course, Mom and Dad were there too. Our first order of business was to clean-up the girls. Everyone got baths, blow dryed, clipped, brushed, and polished. It takes several hours to do 6 goats. Can you imagine the time it used to take to do 12!

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DSC_0867Fitting involves a lot of detail from head to toe, and yes, even the butts. We get up close and personal!

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DSC_0853As you can see from these pictures, fitting is a team effort. Over the years, the boys have taken on more and more responsibility.  At first they couldn’t exactly wield the clippers. The goats would be a hack job. They have always brushed, washed, and blow-dryed though. Now, they are trimming hooves, clipping, and more. I love watching this progression! Before too long I can just supervise and sit back–not really. I like to be hands-on.

Show time rolled around and started with novice showmanship.My boys did so good in their classes, and were clearly the most handsome 🙂

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It was my last year in the ring with goats. I still don’t think that has registered. It will next year when I’m on the outside looking in. I got to show the smallest goats (poor planning) which were Miracle and Tres. Miracle was a terd outside of the ring, jumping and rearing up. I think she was mad that she had to be on a collar like all the other goats. Yes, Miracle, you are a goat. In the ring, she did great except for gnawing on my thumb the ENTIRE time. Hey, whatever makes her happy and stand still. Tres surprised us all and got 4th! I get super excited when anything we raise on our farm gets in top 5 of a class. I can also say, that she was a dream. Sure she was a little goat for me to show, but daggum if she did not stand there without moving and walked perfectly despite being worked with once.

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DSC_0998Clearly, I have the serial killer look down when showing. I promise I’m having loads of fun. I just like to concentrate.

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And, look who decided to show up.

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DSC_0976For those of you who know Garrett, you know he’s a pig guy. He is not fond of goats, but he came to cheer and help anyways. 🙂

All in all, it was a great day finished off with some spectacular fair food…again. If you ever want to see french fries disappear like a Houdini act, then you should watch us at 8 o’clock, still showing goats, wolf them down to tide us over. No worries, we later got fried pickles and jalapeno, pimento cheese, hush-puppies with sriracha sauce. Holy lanta!

Don’t forget, there is still one more part to the fair–sheep!

100 Years of Family Farming

Our farm was recently recognized with something pretty exciting. After some research into farm and land records, we put an application in for the North Carolina Century Farm certification.

The Century Farm designation is in recognition of 100 or more years of continuous family farming. Started in 1970, the program aimed to identify farms that had been in a family for 100 continuous years. To be eligible, records had to be presented that showed that the farm had passed to a blood relative of the original owner for a century or more. Of the 52,000 farms in North Carolina only about 3% of them have been honored with the designation of a Century Farm, and we are one! Isn’t that absolutely awesome?!

DSC_0094Our farm started in 1895 when Bettie Denning and husband David Jernigan bought approximately 150 acres. In 1909, Dave died. Bettie would later marry his brother, Jim Jernigan.  Jim and Bettie never had children, but Dave and Bettie had seven together–6 boys and 1 girl. The girl was my great-grandmother, Harriett Jernigan.

A tract of the original estate was given to my great-grandmother when she married (approximately 45 acres). She and my great- grandfather, Owen Weaver, built a house on this land.

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Harriett and Owen Weaver–1952

My great-grandfather cleared a large portion of the land with an ax, by hand. He pulled the stumps up with mules. On this farm land, they grew tobacco, soybeans, corn, and  cotton. They also had chickens and up to 100 pigs. Mules were used to plow until 1956 when the first tractor was bought. It would normally take one week to plow 15 acres by mule.

My grandfather, Bob Weaver, and two older siblings, Elizabeth and Nick, were born and grew up on this plot of land.

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Bob Weaver (Papa) circa 1949.
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Papa on a retired US Army Horse.

Papa helped with the farm work until he was 18. At this time, he joined the US Air Force. He would eventually be stationed in Scotland where he met my grandma, Sylvia McCabe.

001 (9)They married in North Carolina in February of 1966.

001 (11)In 1978, they moved back to the family farm land where they built a house. At this point, my mom was 11 years old and her brother, Bobby, was 8 years old. The house was built on 14 acres of the original tract of land.

Grandma, Mom, and Uncle Bobby doing some foundation work on the house
Grandma, Mom, and Uncle Bobby doing some foundation work on the house
Papa pumping water before pipes had been run to the house
Papa pumping water before pipes had been run to the house

001 (4)My great-grandfather was living at the end of the road, still raising pigs (my great-grandmother died in 1954). The rest of the land was being leased out to a local farmer.

My great-grandfather cooking a pig on an open pit early 70's
My great-grandfather cooking a pig on an open pit in the late 60’s
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July 1967–Mom is the baby being held by my great-grandfather. Papa is to his left and his brother, Nick, is to the far left.

Today, my Papa and Grandma have acquired 40 acres of the original estate, and my family lives on 6 of those acres. Our barn was built by my great-grandfather in the early 1960’s to be used as a pack house for tobacco.

fourth famPapa has buildings that are comprised of a tobacco barn built by my great- grandfather in the early 50’s. My great-grandfather died in 1988, but his handiwork lives on.

The next generation of our family is now farming on the same land that has been passed down for more than 100 years. Papa is growing a pecan orchard that has over 50 trees and rents out the remainder of the land for farming. We graze sheep and goats on 10 acres of the family land.

The honor of having a Century Farm is profound. In regards to why it means so much, I think Papa says it best,

“It is important to me to be able to pass down the land to my children and grandchildren, and for my future generations to know their heritage and where they come from.”

I am extremely proud to live on a Century Farm and to have such a rich history. Our roots run deep, and I love it!

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Kerr Lake 2015: Linton Family

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My family just got back from the week we look forward to all year– the lake! We spend a week at Kerr Lake near the Virginia Border with our camper and boat. It is a chance for us to get away and get some family time in. We definitely learn to be close with 6 of us crammed into one camper for 7 days.

During the span of the week, a lot happened. There were the staples of hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire, hammocks, and fishing, but there was also exploring abandoned buildings, ripped bathing suits, chiggers, thunderstorms, and picture perfect sunsets. All in all, it was the perfect family vacation 🙂

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DSC_0412Kerr Lake has been a family destination for my whole life, going back to even when my mom was a girl. With a view like that, how can you blame us?

DSC_0835The lake is the result of the John H. Kerr Dam. In past years, we have walked across the dam. On the other side is the Dan River.

DSC_0065Kerr Lake is filled with all sorts of wildlife. One of my favorites is spotting bald eagles soaring in the sky. While this is not a bald eagle (I couldn’t get a decent photo), the osprey is still an awesome sight!

Geese came right up to the campsite too. Gideon decided to chase them with the kayak once. They did not appreciate it at all.

DSC_0279A tradition that we always have is to visit the local marina, grab some ice cream, and feed the fish and the ducks bread.

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This guy is just the coolest to me. Dad thinks he is fugly, though.

DSC_0302Afterwards, we go and look at all of the sailboats docked at the marina.

Of course with so much water at our fingertips, we enjoy it as much as possible. That may involve kayaking or swimming.

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DSC_0575Although we fish every year, we almost never catch anything.

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DSC_0774Except for the floating dead one.

DSC_0313We are all about some tubing and knee boarding . We can get kind of crazy on the tubes.

While tubing leaves me sore in the morning, knee boarding does it even worse. As you can see with the following string of pictures, wiping out is not always pleasant.

DSC_1016This picture cracks me up to no end.

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DSC_0342During our water excursions, we typically stop off at different islands to explore. At one we found old abandoned buildings. It was quite mystical.

On our last night, we had a campfire. The boys are little pyromaniacs, but I think their favorite part is dumping water on the fire to douse it.

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DSC_0028Frisbee, walks, bike rides and of course cooking out are all on the to do list.

DSC_0080DSC_0795Mom and I like to read and bask in the sun.

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DSC_0050Dad and Alec are basically obsessed with their hammocks.

DSC_0148Poor Alec wasn’t just about relaxation. He not only ripped his pants, but he also got chiggers.

DSC_0093Grandma and Papa always bring Bojangles to us when they come back with the other truck to pick the boat up. It was so good seeing them, and homemade pineapple ice cream made it even better.

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DSC_0010Just in case you wanted to see a few more candids… you know, because I haven’t included enough pics as is 🙂


Kerr Lake was the perfect vacation, and might I add, that I love my Linton family time oh so much!

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The Fort

The boys have wanted a fort for quite sometime, and these past few weeks their dream came true. I am amazed at what my dad can engineer all by himself. Using a lot of stuff that we already had (telephone poles, pallets, windows, and tin) as well as a few bought items (plywood). It took a couple of Saturdays and nights after work to get it done, but the end product is fabulous! Two-stories of handmade awesomeness. The boys have padlocked the door, so only they may enter, decorated with chairs, a table they made, and a rug. Upstairs, they have drug cots up to sleep in once it ever gets cool enough. On days they spend in there, you can see them hauling a cooler full of ice and drinks with them.

It is a special thing built by all, engineered by dad, wished for by the boys, and where imagination runs rampant. It is “The Fort.”

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Meet the New Faces of Food Network–The Brothers

Our family is heavily involved in 4-H, and one of the things that we participate in every year is presentations. It has taught all of us kids to learn public speaking skills and confidence–something that I have been extremely thankful for over the years. This year, was the boys’ first time doing a presentation. Following in their older brother’s footsteps, they chose to do the outdoor cookery category. In this section, they have to actually cook a piece of meat for judges on charcoal grills. Do you know how cute a 9 and 10 year old are grilling? Let’s just say they could be the stars of Food Network.

It isn’t just about grilling some scrumptious food, though. The kids have to field the judges’ questions about what temperature to cook the meat to, why they wear gloves (side note: Mom was quizzing Gid on why he should wear gloves, and was trying to get him to remember the word salmonella by thinking of fish. He had the worst time picking the right fish. If you hear him say the flounder disease, you know what he’s talking about), grill safety, and even nutritional facts about their meat. When they age up to senior level, they have to give an additional presentation discussing the industry and more for a chance to go to nationals. Impressed yet?

The boys had already grilled at the county level, and were now competing at the district level. Gideon is still a Cloverbud, so he was non-competitive. Isaac was a junior and ended up winning gold, so he will be headed  to state next month. They were both cooking turkey tenderloin. Now, I used to be a only turkey at Thanksgiving kind of girl, but when we started grilling turkey tenderloins for these presentations, I reevaluated life. It is so very good, especially if you follow their recipes (see below). I know I may be partial, but I think my brothers are just too cute and ever so talented.

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Waiting for the coals
Waiting for the coals

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Clearly, it was superb
Clearly, it was superb

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Isaac and Gideon have very opposite personalities. Isaac is more quiet and Gideon is sassy, so it is only fitting that their recipes parallel with their personalities. They have been kind enough to share their special recipes with you guys so you too may enjoy turkey this summer. Here is Gideon’s. It is has more of a kick.

turkey on targetIssac’s is more subdued and sweet.

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Not only is it delicious, but turkey is also nutritious.

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And don’t forget, turkey needs to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and to wash your hands after handling raw meat lest you get “flounder diseases.”

I hope you enjoy the recipes and be sure to look out for Food Network’s new faces–The Brothers–coming soon. 😉

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The Family Garden

Let me start by saying that this is a late post. I promise we are not just getting to planting a garden. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I want to share our family garden with you.

Every summer, we have some sort of garden. We don’t plant all of the same things every year; however, we do have our staples. The must haves for the garden include: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, onions, okra, and eggplant. We have experimented with gourds, pumpkins, watermelons, beans, corn, carrots, lettuce, and the coolest–loofa (if you are looking for something fascinating, plant loofas). When it comes to the “experimental” list, we don’t plant those every year, just when we get a bee in our bonnet.

I will say, that I am not a plant person. Sometimes I think I could be, but then it quickly fades. I LOVE picking the produce and of course eating it is great. So, even though I don’t really have a green thumb, I adore our garden. It is an entire family affair getting it planted and taking care of it. I love that aspect about it.

I really think more people should garden–even if it is a few pots of plants. Not only does it provide yummy delights, but is healthy, and really highlights where food comes from.

Stay tuned for updates on our garden and our favorite recipes from the garden! And without further delay, here is the (late) family garden.

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Potatoes went in the ground a week before everything else.
Potatoes went in the ground a week before everything else.

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After the potatoes, we planted everything else.
After the potatoes, we planted everything else.
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Onions have layers…

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whole family

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Gideon’s middle name is Bob after my grandpa. They like to tease and say Papa is Bob the first and Gideon is Bob the third (his uncle is Bob the second)

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Almost Free Food, Frog Legs, and a Tractor Parade–All at the Got to Be NC Festival

I love when a few of my favorite things combine together to make a fun day. Last Saturday, my family and I went to the Got to Be NC Festival.

This event is held at the NC State Fairgrounds and hosts a ton of North Carolina vendors and products. There is a tractor parade, flea market, rides, and games. One of my favorite parts (actually it was the BEST part) was trying lots of food. One of the great things about the event is you can pay $2 for all-day access into a giant building filled with food vendors that are giving away all sorts of free food. FREE FOOD! After writing that, I’m realizing that the $2 negates the free part, but it is basically free and so very worth it. Even cooler was the fact that all of the food was NC based. There were peanuts, hot sauces, mints, wine, dips, Bright Leaf hot dogs, and so much more. My favorites had to be Cherry Orchard Food’s pretzel dip mixes (we got the buffalo bleu and chili, cheese, bacon flavors) and the pickled green beans and Bloody Mary mix by Bruce Julian. Of course, I could have stayed at the Bright leaf hotdog station forever, but I feel like that is a given. Gideon was in heaven with all of the hot sauce samples (the boy absolutely loves hot sauce and has never found one he couldn’t handle). Isaac was obsessed with Sunshine Energy drink. Thankfully, he didn’t get wound up off of the samples. All in all, the $2 was absolutely worth it!

hot saueI paid another $2 to try some very odd food. I ordered deep fried sweet tea. It was essentially a doughnut drenched in very syrupy tea. While it wasn’t bad, it was too sweet for me. Daddy ordered frog legs.dad frog Now, if you know me, you know I HATE frogs. I am utterly petrified of them, yet somehow, for some reason, I ate a bite of the frog legs. frog legs

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Obviously, I was thinking about what I just did…

I know. I may be going insane, but it wasn’t half bad until I actually thought about it. Then it wasn’t so good. I can cross it off my bucket list, though (not that it was really on it). Adding to the craziness, was our photo bomb guy. Do you recognize him?

anthHe is Anthony Anderson, an actor. He has played in movies like Transformers. He was at the festival, filming for a food show, and he totally photo bombed us! Too funny!

Our main point in being at the event was not food, believe it or not. My brother, Alec, and I both received NC State Fair Livestock scholarships along with 22 others and were invited to come to the shin dig for a ceremony. The scholarship is brand new, and was started with a change to the NC State Fair livestock sale. A percentage of the proceeds of the Sale of Champions goes to the scholarship fund. Awesome, huh? Alec and I were very honored to receive the scholarship and participate in the festivities. We met the NC Commissioner of Agriculture and got to ride in the tractor parade. Our families were able to ride in the parade too. It was perfect.

scholarshipIt was also a nice final hurrah. Garrett and his family (he and his sister also received the scholarship) were able to come to the festival. Garrett was leaving that day to drive to Illinois where he would be working as an intern all summer for Maschoff’s, a large hog company. I’m super proud of him, but it was bittersweet to see him go.

g and mI jokingly told him I was now single for the summer. No worries, I’ve only gone on one date so far. They were short, blonde and cute. Don’t you agree?

date night with boysThe rest of the day was spent walking around and enjoying everything.

paradetractor paradeag festboys and matag fest boys dadSo, there you go–a quick recap of some of the happenings around. I strongly recommend the Got to Be NC Festival and definitely the $2 entry to try all the NC based foods.