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Writing Entry: Farm Show file: In the Deep End

Written by Tim Lambert, witf Multimedia News Director | Jan 26, 2015 11:15 AM

ANCHOR LEAD:

The 98th Farm Show offers unparalleled agri-tainment and culinary delights. But it also has a distinct smell. You know it as soon as you walk through the doors. WITF's Mary Wilson went to find out how the cause of that omnipresent smell is disposed of throughout the week.  

WILSON:

Sure, the Farm Show is known for decadent milkshakes, for the unbearable cuteness that is the duck cam watching ducklings line up for a water slide, and for the thousands of farm animals that call the indoor complex home for some part of the eight-day affair.

Let’s take that again: thousands of animals. Eating, moving, sleeping...

SHARP:

"We also have to deal with what comes out the other end. That’s all part of taking care of animals." (layer underneath next line)

 WILSON:

Meet Jim Sharp, Farm Show manager. He handles everything from ordering ribbons to organizing the largest outflow of – ahem -- animal excrement in Harrisburg every year.

 SHARP:

"This is my 11th Farm Show....You kind of get thrown into the deep end and with manure it can get pretty deep, pretty fast."

WILSON:

At the Farm Show, the process of getting rid of all *it* resembles the postal system more than a simple bag and toss move.

SHARP:

"We try to keep some of it separate, actually. The difference is the type of bedding these animals use."

WILSON:

Manure is filed and sorted before being sent. There are three types of bedding – mulch, pine wood shavings, and straw.

Mulch is used by beef cattle.

SHARP:

"If they’re using pine shavings... that’ll go into a separate pile....dairy cattle also on a lot of shavings. Poultry, rabbits, they use a lot of shavings. Some horse owners use shavings."

 WILSON

And then there’s straw.

SHARP

"Overall, straw is horses, swine, sheep, goats, are the main users of straw."

WILSON

Straw has the unique distinction of being the one kind of animal bedding that, once soiled, is so useful to someone  else that it gets hauled away without costing the Farm Show a dime.

SHARP:

"The straw actually goes to mushroom growers, down in the southeast part of the state. That is truly recycled quite nicely."

 WILSON:

But that’s outside the building. Inside, there are still thousands of Farm Show visitors milling around between stalls, and thousands of animals doing what’s only natural on their way to and from the various show arenas.

SHARP:

 .".. ideally, if an animal is walking to a show ring or they’re going to the washrack, if the animal does its business, it’s really the exhibitor’s responsibility to clean that up. Some people are better at that than others and sometimes there’s some piles left behind and aren’t taken care of. In those situations, our staff will jump on that."

"I’m sure if we talked to those guys, there’d probably be a little undercurrent of really folks, relaly? You missed that? You didn’t see that happening?"

 (horse room sound)

HOWELL:

"In the tack room, honey."

WILSON:

Sam Howell, wearing a fleece embroidered with the word “Pappy,” stood watching over his young grandchildren as they groomed miniature horses the day of the mini-horse pull. (layer sound)

HOWELL:

"Where’s your yellow bucket? It’s probably in the wagon, honey."

WILSON:

A small pile appeared where mini-horses named Spanky and Sweet Pea had been standing. Howell directed his granddaughter, seven years old, to go get the pitchfork.

 HOWELL:

"They’ll probably put it in the wheelbarrow and I’ll take it out for them."

 (mooing sound)

WILSON:

In the cattle room, Lewis Hilbert, from Adams County, cleaned up bedding around oblivious cows. (layer sound)

HILBERT:

"There’s a committee that comes by and makes sure everything’s tidied up and so forth."

WILSON:

That committee, as Hilbert refers to it, is Sharp’s team. He marshals them to take care of manure heaps throughout the Farm Show Complex.

SHARP:

"I just got a call, Jim, just a reminder, remember about this pile."

WILSON:

Sharp says he doesn’t mind that the teams of scoopers are among the unsung heroes of the week.

SHARP:

"The truth of the matter is, you know, we all all deal with it every day. You have to deal with the crap, and so we do."

WILSON

Dodge ye obstacles where ye must, Farm Show visitors, and, as Sharp says, if you don’t succeed – kick it off in the parking lot. Preferably not in the wrong pile.

Mary Wilson, WITF News, at the Farm Show.  

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