ShareThis Page

Farm life demystified in Butler County

Mary Ann Thomas
| Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, 12:41 a.m.
Cooper Walbert, 2, of Winfield Township, feeds hay to a steer at the HarLo farm in Jefferson Township during the Butler County Farm Tour on Saturday, October 5, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Cooper Walbert, 2, of Winfield Township, feeds hay to a steer at the HarLo farm in Jefferson Township during the Butler County Farm Tour on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

The children couldn't shed their shoes fast enough to jump into a grain silo at Har-Lo Farms in Jefferson Township on Saturday for the 16th annual Butler County Farm Tour.

The balmy fall weather and free, self-guided tour was expected to turn out more than 1,000 visitors at the farm.

The featured stops included Dave Jones Turkey Farm and Thiele Dairy Farm, both in Winfield; Rustic Acres Winery near Butler; and Winfield Winery in Winfield.

Visitors toured barns, marveled at the large tractors and equipment, petted animals and jumped on a hay ride at the 1,300-acre Har-Lo farm.

“My favorite part is that I got to feed a baby calf,” said 4-year-old Emma Salasky of Butler.

“We got to do a lot of fun things like going in the bin with all of that corn,” said Emma's sister, Katrina Salasky, 10.

Exposure to the farming way of life was the purpose of the tour, which was sponsored by the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau, the Butler County Cooperative Extension and the Butler Conservation District.

John Deere tractors, classic Farmall faded red tractors and gigantic combines were objects of curiosity for the non-farm folk.

“People keep asking me what this piece of equipment is and how much horsepower it has,” said Jim Foertsch, one of the owners of the family-run Har-Lo Farms.

Foertsch was standing next to two hulking combines, which harvest grain by cutting, thrashing and separating soy bean, wheat, oats and other crops.

“Every time you eat a bowl of cereal, it's been picked and cut by a combine somewhere,” said Foertsch, who added that “combine” comes from the multiple tasks performed by the machine.

“This tour is beneficial because people have got to know that their food doesn't start at a supermarket,” he said.

James Boldy, vice president of the Butler Farm Bureau, said, “This kind of event shows people what farmers go through to grow food and how much they care for their animals.”

The tour also highlighted the work that goes into making local wines.

Visitors lined up for free tasting at Winfield Winery with its 36 different varieties.

“A lot of people are surprised by the quality of the wine,” said owner and wine maker John Ricchuito, an Arnold native.

His “Winfield Country Red” and “Fredonia” have taken best American wine variety in the state at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, among other awards.

Ricchuito buys his grapes from Northeast, near Erie, and berries from Snyder's Farm in North Oakland Township near Chicora.

Of course, the farm tour was good for his business, according to Ricchuito, but the event “helps people to learn that these wines are hand-crafted and local.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.