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October 8, 2009

Extension Service farm industry tour ‘pretty neat’

Grand marshaled by two charming trolleys, a parade of cars snaked through Laurel County Friday as part of the University of Kentucky Extension Council’s farm industry tour. The trip featured four stops, with more than 100 participants getting an inside look at everything from making molasses to handcrafting wood furniture.

“It was pretty neat,” ninth-grader Matthew Herrmann said. “I liked seeing all the farms and what all the people do.”

Hank Wilhoit agreed.

“It’s beautiful,” he said of the experience. “You’re out with nature ... Things like this are what makes Laurel County known. It’s just a good thing.”

FIRST STOP: Danny “Doody” Hale’s sugar cane farm

As soon as farm tour visitors arrived, they were greeted with the smell of coffee brewing and neighbors hard at work stripping cane. Quickly, a line formed for greens, vegetable soup, which was served with cornbread that had spent time gurgling in a cast iron skillet.

After lunch, Wayne Kirby, Knox County Extension Agriculture agent, explained the workings of the farm.

Danny “Doody” Hale has been making molasses from his four acres of sugar cane for the past seven years.

The process involves stripping the cane, squeezing the green rods through a grinder and boiling the resulting juice in a wood-fired evaporator. The result is molasses — or, as it’s known in some parts of the country, sorghum.

“But to us it’s molasses anyway you look at it,” Kirby said.

SECOND STOP: Mike and Fredi Angel’s Red Dog & Company

Farm tour visitors were welcomed by the fresh scent of sawdust inside Mike and Fredi Angel’s workshop. There, visitors saw an array of the Angels’ handcrafted mule-ear furniture, including everything from old-timey rocking chairs to dining room suites.

“We use everything from maple, walnut, cherry to ash,” Mike Angel said.

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