Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's not a Summer without a County Fair!

When people think about a county fair, they most likely think about rodeos, concerts, carnival rides, cotton candy, or even the good ole funnel cake. However, when  I think of a county fair, my first thought is all of the 4-H and FFA exhibits. These exhibits can range from food to livestock. Even though these exhibits get displayed for a short period of time, many don't realize how much work goes into getting a project ready to exhibit at the county fair. I can actually speak from experience as I am a former 4-Her and FFA member who took a variety of projects to the fair when I was younger. My favorite project that I took to the fair was cattle! For some reason I grew fond of showing cattle and enjoyed the work that went into getting my calf ready for the fair. We would spend every morning leading up to the fair rinsing our show calves and then combing their hair to get it to grow. This could take up to two hours each morning and could take even longer in the evening as we did the exact same thing. While it was a lot of hard work, it all paid off in the end as both my sister and I were fortunate enough to win numerous awards for our show calves.

Everything I just mentioned above is actually what my family experienced again this year as my sister showed at the Webster County Fair in Bladen, NE. We took six head of cattle over to the fair that included two steers, one market heifer, one breeding heifer, and a cow-calf pair. Overall, my sister had a great fair and won numerous champion and reserve champion awards due to all the hard work leading up to the fair.

Even though my sister and our family worked hard to get our calves ready for the fair, we weren't the only ones. Every 4-Her and FFA member that exhibited at the fair this year put a lot of time into their projects. That's why I would encourage anyone that attends a county fair, or even a state fair, to check out the exhibits. I think many would be amazed at how talented today's 4-Hers and FFA members are! They are truly the future of the agriculture industry!

Below are the pictures I took of our county fair! 

During our county fair, temperatures reached into the triple digits. To help keep our show calves cool, we used fans and kept them watered throughout the day.

My sister received Grand Champion Senior Showman along with many other Grand Champion awards.

This was our cow-calf pair my sister showed that received Webster County Supreme Breeding Animal.

My former FFA chapter had it's banner displayed so that people walking through the barns knew which club or chapter the exhibitor belonged to.

Before we take our animals into the show ring, we put them into a blocking chute that allows us to groom them and enhance their image for the judge.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From the Field to the Movie Theater- July Popcorn Update

Wow, where has summer gone?! It is hard to believe how fast summer is flying by, and before we know it, it will be over! However, I think the way the weather has been acting so far this summer, some are ready for it to be over with already. It has been a very dry summer so far. Crops are starting to look tough, especially the ones that are not irrigated. Nebraska hasn't been the only one affected by the dry weather this summer. All of the corn belt has been experiencing dry conditions, which has already taken a toll on some of the corn in the eastern part of the corn belt. Although these conditions are not the most "fun" farming conditions to be in, I have been amazed at how positive farmers have been when it could be very easy to get negative about the weather. That is one of the many things I give farmers and ranchers a lot of credit for, is that they wont let anything keep the from doing their job and most of time you will find them trying to make the most out of every situation.

So now to the popcorn update! As I mentioned earlier, the popcorn, along with all the other crops, are currently facing drought conditions. We have received very little rain in the month of June and it has put a lot of stress on the plants. Along with receiving very little rain, we have also faced temperatures that have surpassed 100 degrees. Corn (whether it is yellow corn, white corn, or popcorn) actually likes warm weather. However, it doesn't prefer temperatures that get into the 100's. This actually puts the plant under stress, which can eventually affect yield. Currently, the popcorn is starting to tassel, so that is where the plant will begin the pollination process that will lead to the production of popcorn kernels. However, extremely warm temperatures can actually reduce the amount of kernels produced, which then leads to a reduction in yield that can eventually lead to a lesser supply of popcorn.

Luckily, we are fortunate enough to live in an area where we can use irrigation to water our crops. This has helped tremendously since we have received very little rain. We have been running our pivots on our popcorn fields to try and help reduce the stress on the plants so that we can optimize the yield. So far the popcorn looks really good thanks to the use of irrigation!

 Below are some of the current pictures of what the popcorn looks like!

Because of dry conditions in our area, we have been using irrigation to water our popcorn along with our other crops. Hopefully mother nature will bring us moisture soon!

The popcorn has gotten taller and now allows very little sunlight into the rows. It almost looks like a forest/jungle!

The tassels are just starting to appear in the corn! This is the beginning of the pollination process that leads to the formation of kernels.
This is what the popcorn plants look like out in the field. The size of the plants vary but are roughly around 66 inches tall.
The formation of the ear of POPCORN! It is really tiny right now, but this is the part of the plant that the kernels will eventually develop on. As July continues, this tiny ear will become much larger. 

 If you are interested in previous posts about popcorn, you can click here!