It never fails. I guess we're fortunate the weather forecasts were off Saturday because we didn't get the snow that was predicted, but we did get the overcast skies and cold westerly winds.
Those who were smart wore Carhartts and layers of warm clothing. I had my Carhartts at the ready, but when I got up, I looked out the window - no snow - and looked at the temperature outside and it was a warm 34 degrees at 7 a.m., I left my warm clothing at home and regretted it all morning.
Saturday was Market Beef Weigh-in for the county fair. 4-H'ers and FFA members who intend to show at the fair in August weigh their steers and market heifers, and those weights are the starting weights for the rate of gain contest. In addition to being weighed, they receive an ear tag, a tattoo and, new this year, a retinal scan.
A total of 39 4-H members, representing 13 4-H clubs situated throughout the county, and two Durango FFA members weighed in 64 market animals and three 2009 catch-it heifers. These three first-year heifers all weighed within 32 pounds of each other, so all are getting off to an equal start. The heaviest steer weighed in at 1,155 pounds, while the lightest weighed 539. The owners of 18 steers indicated that they would like to be nominated for the State Fair, while a total of 44 animals were slated for the Silver Stakes contest. These animals are essentially locally bred.
The change in the weather played havoc with a number of animals that decided to act up on the one day in which they needed to be broke to lead. For many, this was obviously their first trip to a new environment.
Special thanks go to Basin Coop for lending two squeeze chutes for this endeavor. Thanks to the La Plata County Fairgrounds crew for getting everything set and ready to go early on Saturday morning and to the many volunteers who assisted in registering the members, weighing in animals, ear tagging and tattooing animals. A special thanks go to Clayton Shonk for doing the retinal scans, Brand Inspector Chad Moore for providing brand inspections and to Robert Campbell, beef superintendent, for coordinating the activity.
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Bob Salzer is La Plata County 4-H Youth Development agent.