Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 Wyoming State Fair

Last week was the Wyoming State Fair. I spent about 8 years competing at the state fair, but hadn't been back for a couple years. It was a different experience toting a camera bag instead of leading steers, scrambling from one end of the fairgrounds to the other to take pictures instead of camping out on the show boxes in the beef barn, or wandering through the huge livestock barns instead of navigating the maze of combined buildings that housed animals when I was there. FYI I liked the old beef barn better!
The kids are different too. I do not remember so much..skin at state fair when I was competing. There was a pretty strict n0-shorts policy in our county as I recall, but this year I saw about half the girls wandering around in shorts and flip flops.

But some things are the same, like how cute the little kids are...and the enormous citrus inspired drinks you can get on the midway for an exorbitant fee.

The horse show was never that exciting to me. But this little girl and I assume her brother are too cute. I also caught the little bitty kids pole bending and it was great!
Some of the kids that do compete can do some incredible things with their horses...

This girl was one of them, and she had a big grin the whole time. Obviously good at it and enjoying it all at once!

This girl was experiencing her first state fair and was a cutie. The pig people humor me with their variety of colorful muck boots. The pigs humor me because they have so much personality...I'm easily humored.

Sheep....well...it's an art, and a gift to be able to put up with, feed and show sheep in my opinion. I had to do it in college and it wasn't as bad as I thought...but it wasn't incredibly great either.

Judging of most clothing, photography, leather craft, cake decorating, cooking etc... was done Monday.

This is maybe my favorite. My mom said this could be me.

The fitting contest was interesting. I've never watched one before and have some friends that are into showing cattle and do this for a living. They have some skills.

The livestock judging contest...possibly the most nerve wracking morning of my State Fair career...that or showmanship. They are practicing their reasons on the bleachers.

You could fish!!! If you were under 12...

Team roping...makes nice pictures if you don't fall asleep watching.

Crabtree Carnival has been a State Fair staple for as long as I can remember.

Keeping things clean..

The judging contest isn't just nerve wracking for the human contestants.

Almost all of these pictures were in a center spread in the Roundup this week. I was so excited about the spread, and I had a lot of fun taking them and getting back in the State Fair groove. Following three days of taking pictures and attending meetings I collapsed for 12 hours and realized I am not 15 anymore :(

Monday, August 16, 2010

Home grown

I was reading a blog this morning about how a girl that was raised on a farm purchased all her food in town with the exception of beef and pork. She explained this to someone from a city and they were surprised that her family didn't produce most of what they ate... and so was I.
Growing up my family had two milk cows, several hundred chickens and a couple gardens. My grandma and great grandma also picked chokecherries to make jelly with. I remember helping my grandma pick wild greens and other edible plants too.
We will start with the milk cows. The one I remember with the most clarity was a half Holstein, half Angus cow named Lady. She was quite sweet and I don't ever remember her kicking. She would decide not to come in to be milked once in a while, then would stand in the yard bawling all night because her bag was tight.
My dad has some hilarious stories about gathering the milk cows as a kid, but I can't do them justice.
My grandfather passed away 15 years ago, and my best memory of him is in his barn, milking his cow. It's what he did first thing in the morning when he was planning his day. If you would peak around the barn door he would hit you with a stream of milk. All the barn cats would sit expectantly on in the doorway and for their patience would receive a stream of milk at some point.
The milk cows were also used to feed bum calves. My grandpa would tie a sheet around the cow, covering part of her bag. The idea is that a calf sucking a cow makes her harder to milk, so half the cows bag was for the calves and the other half wasn't.
We rarely, if ever, bought a gallon of milk until after my grandpa died. At that time the milk cows were sold because no one else was as fond of them (by that I mean they were sick of them ) as my grandpa.
My grandma would buy 100 baby chicks every year and butcher the equivalent in old hens. Butchering chickens is not fun and we won't get into that. She had the biggest chicken house ever and I can remember my great grandma (Nana) cleaning all the eggs every day. Nana took care of the chickens until she was about 97. The eggs were eaten and sold and the butchered hens were also eaten.
There were also roosters...big, mean, white roosters that would chase us kids. Not that they were ever provoked...
My mom had gardens when I was little and my grandma also grew things like tomatoes most years. While we weren't huge gardeners we did produce some stuff almost every year.
As for the chokecherry jelly, my grandma is famous in several counties and parts of other states for her jelly. It is the best you'll ever have and some rather serious arguments have erupted over whose jar is whose. My grandma and Nana also canned enough fruits and vegetables to completely fill a 10x10 foot cellar every year. A "snack" at grandmas might be canned peaches with real cream on top.
When I was really little I would walk up and down the creak bottoms with my grandma and "help" her pick greens. I think this was a wild form of spinach. All I really know is there is a weed that looks a lot like a green, and I could never tell the two apart. Grandma had to re-sort my bucket all the time.
In addition to all this food production we also eat our own beef almost exclusively. If we run out of hamburger we might go buy some, but otherwise we eat what we raise. I guess I take for granted the opportunities my lifestyle presents me in the food I am able to eat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pathfinder Days

On August 7 and 8 I was busy being the "official" photographer (I just like the ring that phrase has) at Pathfinder Days. To learn about Pathfinder please visit their website.
Ok, got it? Wind energy, headquarter in Wyoming. I come in during their annual two-day celebration, which is filled with food, drinks (non-alcoholic, it's a family affair), and a vast array of gymkhana style events. I was hired to snap every moment of this annual affair so the company has a nice selection of photos for advertising, web stuff, invitations to next years event, stories and anything else they could possibly want a photo for. Well, I did snap away and took over 2,000 pictures during the weekend. Here are a few I edited for the company this morning.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Senior sneak peek

These are a few shots from a two-day senior photo shoot I'm in the middle of. We met at one location this morning and will stop at a couple more tomorrow evening. When it's all said and done I'll get a few more on here!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beef Day

Today is beef day at the Niobrara County Fair. For 11 years today was arguable the most important day of my entire year. It was easily the day I worked the hardest and longest for. I still wake up the Wednesday of fair week and think about it being beef day.
My day would typically begin before 5:00 a.m. and last much later than my energy did. I showed all forms of beef, including feeder calves, market steers and breeding heifers. Over my 11-year 4-H career I had close to 20 beef projects. It was definitely my thing.
As a stubborn, opinionated 8 year old I chose my first beef project - a little Hereford heifer I named Sassy. Now Sassy wasn't a great show heifer and my dad and uncle tried their hardest to get me to choose a more stylish heifer that would be more competitive. I clearly remember standing in my uncle's corral, in front of the barn in early December, arguing between Sassy and this really sweet, stylish heifer.
I won and Sassy was the final choice.
I was 8 years old at the time, if that tells you about how far back my interest in livestock and stubborn disposition go.
I loved animals and still do. I poured all my attention into Sassy and she responded in true Hereford form and became a pet. I would ride her around the corral she was pretty much bullet proof.
My first beef morning at county fair started in the pitch dark. It's an early morning to be up when it's still pitch dark outside in August. I remember freezing while washing her that morning, my dad standing by sipping a steaming Styrofoam cup of coffee.
We didn't win anything special that first year, but I was hooked.
Sassy went on to be the start my personal cow herd and was always up for a good scratch during winter feeding. The year I had to sell her was a sad one. Today a few of Sassy's calves and grand-calves are still in my herd.
Sassy was followed by Lacy..who is a whole nother story.