The annual Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is a full-day event not only for rural farmers and cattle producers, but also urban homeowners, backyard farmers and apartment dwellers. Kathy (left) and Lee Hayes toss some corn to some of their chickens outside the little camp trailer that they painted like a barn and converted to a chicken coop outside their home in west Arlington. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

So you want to be a backyard farmer? This expo’s for you

STANWOOD — This year’s Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool has plenty of information for people who like to “get ’er done.”

This do-it-yourself convention on Saturday at Stanwood High School offers 180 workshops arranged by Washington State University Extension.

These include raising livestock, how to pour concrete, eating wild plants, saving seeds, kimchi making, boosting soil, composting, dealing with rats, sheep dairying, home orchard pruning and pest control, beekeeping for beginners, pole building construction, buying a tractor, bread baking, food dehydration, cider making, renew wood furniture with chalk paint and cooking with a cast iron skillet.

The full-day expo, scheduled for 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 28, also has a trade show with 70 vendors, and a fleece and fiber “palooza,” during which you can learn to dye your own wool. The fiber event includes a chance to enter your work in a contest.

Another fun competition at the expo is the chick and duck egg weight contest. The owner of the largest chicken and duck eggs will win Conway Feed food pellets.

Some 50 classes at the expo are new. Look through the class catalog at extension.wsu.edu/skagit/Country-Living-Expo-2017-class-descriptions.

One of the new classes is about edible mushroom cultivation, taught by WSU forestry professor Kevin Zobrist. Foraging for mushrooms is all the rage, and it’s all good until you eat the wrong one. Here’s where you can learn how to grow mushrooms in your own yard. Learn more here: www.youtube.com. Zobrist also teaches a class on native trees.

“We strive to keep our event fresh and folks coming back for more. Our program has grown to include not only rural farmers and cattle producers, but also urban homeowners, backyard farmers and apartment dwellers,” said Joan DeVries, local WSU Extension program coordinator. “From studying soils and forages to harvesting and processing their garden and livestock, people will come away empowered to produce their family’s food.”

Some people have registered in advance, but many classes still have space available. Register at the door Saturday morning.

Event registration includes continental breakfast, a chance to hang out with the experts over a prime rib or vegetarian lunch, five classes and the trade show. Adults pay $75 and teens pay $40.

Hosted by the Stanwood High FFA group, the Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is presented by WSU Extension, Livestock Master Foundation and the Tri-County Cattlemen’s Association.

If you go

Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 28, Stanwood High School, 7400 272nd NW, Stanwood.

For more information and to see a full list of classes and workshops, go to skagit.wsu.edu/CountryLivingExpo or call 360-428-4270.

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