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12/28/2013 7:00 AM

To Take the Whole Family <\n>to Pennsylvania Farm Show

The Pennsylvania Farm Show opens Jan. 4 and offers many attractions for family members of all ages.

This is the 98th Farm Show and it’s the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors.

This event offers an opportunity for the nonfarm public to learn about agriculture. Why don’t you invite friends or neighbors who are not involved in agriculture to attend the Farm Show with your family this year?

While there, make sure you take them to see the “Today’s Agriculture” display in the Weis Exposition Hall. The PennAg Industries Association organized commodity and industry groups to stage this display for the third year.

More than 13,000 square feet of indoor space will be converted into a modern livestock barn with adjacent fields of corn, soybeans and cover crops.

New to the display this year is a grocery store component and Marcellus Shale well head.

The exhibit, themed “Today’s Agriculture — Opening Doors: Farming, Knowledge, Trust,” will feature a glimpse into the process of raising food for a growing population.

Showing the public these various components of agriculture today helps take away the fear of the unknown and resolve the biggest argument anti-agriculture groups have — that farmers won’t allow the public to see how their food is produced or engage in discussion.

This display will include dairy, beef, swine and poultry exhibits along with volunteers to answer visitors’ questions.

The show runs Jan. 4-11 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free, and parking is $10. For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.

To Understand <\n>Computer Use on Farms

According to a recent USDA report, computer usage on farms has increased, as has the number of farmers who are using computers for their farm businesses.

As many as 67 percent of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared with 62 percent in 2011, and more farmers have access to a computer, with 70 percent using one compared with 65 percent two years ago.

The report also said 40 percent of farms use computers for the farm business, up 3 percent from 2011.

The higher the farm income, the more likely owners are to use computers. According to the report, this year 84 percent of farms with sales of $250,000 or more have access to a computer, and 72 percent are using it for their farm businesses.

Of those with sales between $100,000 and $249,999, 73 percent have access to a computer, and 56 percent are using it for farm business.

For farms with sales between $10,000 and $99,999, 68 percent have access to a computer, and 45 percent are using it for business.

Seventy-one percent of crop farms and 70 percent of livestock farms reported computer access.

“The report shows that U.S. farmers are keeping pace with nonfarming households with respect to general computer use and Internet access.

“Farmers have computers and Internet access for both business and personal use just like anyone else,” said Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist.

“In fact, many farmers use technology even more than most when you consider they may be using computers, or technology, dedicated to specific tasks such as monitoring and adjusting climate and feed systems in livestock and poultry barns, or linking to a satellite with GPS-guided equipment in the field,” Banks said.

To Celebrate the New Year <\n>With Your Family

New Year’s Day gives us a chance to pause and reflect on the past year’s activities and future plans. It is also a chance to evaluate if the current business we are in is supporting our goals and desires for our families.

Is the business giving us time to invest in our important relationships at home, in our neighborhoods and to meet our faith-based goals?

If so, we can press ahead and if not, we should have a conversation with our families to discuss how to modify our plans.

To Understand the History <\n>of New Year’s Celebrations

Celebrating the New Year goes back 4,000 years, but it didn’t begin in western cultures until 400 years ago.

Carol Bainbridge reports that the holiday began in ancient Babylonia (now Iraq) around 2000 B.C. However, the Babylonians began their new year near the end of what is now March, a logical time to start a new year since winter was over, spring with its new life was beginning and crops were planted for the coming year.

In 153 B.C., the Roman Senate decreed the new year to begin on Jan. 1. The decree was issued to correct the calendar, which had become out of synch with the sun.

Although Jan. 1 had no agricultural or seasonal significance, it did have a civil one. On that date, the newly elected Roman consuls would step into their positions.

Interestingly, the month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, which can represent one looking back at the old year and one looking forward to the new year.

Celebrating the new year was a pagan practice and for that reason, the early Christian church condemned it.

However, in order to more easily convert pagans to Christianity, the Church accepted the celebration on Jan. 1, but made it the Feast of Christ’s Circumcision.

Quote of the Week

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

— Winston Churchill

Leon Ressler is district director of Penn State Cooperative Extension for Chester, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

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