Tuesday, January 8, 2019

More from the White Pine County Fair

I'm cleaning up photos and realized I still had a few things to post about! One is the County Fair. In addition to the animals the kids took to the fair, they also participated in some other events. One was the bicycle competition. It was their first year competing in it. They ride their bikes every day in summer, so it seemed like a natural.

Only four kids showed up, so they all won prizes.

Desert Boy also participated throughout the summer in 4-H Shooting Sports. This is a great program that teaches kids how to shoot safely. Archery was up first, and we had about seven kids from our club participate. (They had to do several rounds of shooting for all the kids to participate.)

They all did well. The next night was shooting, and we unfortunately missed that. But Desert Boy just bought his own .22 Crickett rifle, so he is so excited to participate this year.

Thursday night before the fair is always a bit chaotic as the kids do their homework and then try to round up their fair projects. (Our school schedule is a bit wonky with the fair schedule, as we don't follow the same schedule as the rest of the county, so the kids start school before the fair and then have to take a day off to go attend it.) Here's Desert Girl getting some flower arrangements ready.

On Friday, after turning in exhibits and being interviewed and making sure their animals are squared away, the kids do Skillathon. It's a matching quiz for each animal about body parts, breeds, and in some cases food they eat or what the cuts of meat they become are.

The kids aren't always fond of it because it's a little like school, but it's good for them to know this stuff, so I made Desert Boy do several. They're required to do the animal they show. They get ribbons (and thus money) for each one they do, so it's really a win-win.

And I think it makes them appreciate their animals more. They show their animals on Saturday morning for both market competition and showmanship.

After showing animals, the Exhibit Barn opens at about 10 am. There's always great excitement to see how they did. Desert Girl did great with her flower arrangements (it helped that very few kids enter).

She also did great with her photography.

Desert Boy entered more in the 4-H category than the Open Class category (there is some strategy to where you enter things if you want bigger ribbons). Here he is showing his grand champions for Nevada Weeds and Electricity.

And he got a reserve grand champion for his Western metalcraft project of a horseshoe coat rack.

The fair isn't all about the exhibits. The pie-eating contest is so exciting for the kids.

I remember when I was a kid and I enjoyed the blueberry pie contests at my local fair (blueberries were ripe just at fair time, yum!).

Since Desert Girl is still a Cloverbud, she's not old enough to compete in 4-H market lambs, but she was just fine to compete in Open Class, where she got a reserve grand champion. That made up for the tears of having an uncooperative lamb for showmanship.

She also brought a couple chickens to the fair, including her favorite, Bobblehead, an Ameracauna hen that laid green eggs.

We learned we still have more to learn about chickens.

But she still got a grand for Bobblehead! She was very happy. Bobblehead has since been eaten by an owl, and we are down to three chickens (from eight this summer), so we plan on getting some chicks this spring (which makes Desert Girl very happy).

I always make several trips through the Exhibit Hall to look at the exhibits. There are some amazing ones, and something different catches my eye each time. I don't know how to quilt, so am very impressed with these quilts and the talent of those who made them.

There are also different booths sent up. The White Pine County Farm Bureau had a game that the kids really enjoyed.

Sunday is the final day at the fair. It starts with the auction for the 4-H market animals. This is a big deal for the kids, as they have spent months raising their animals. (Steers have to be in possession by January 1, so it's a really long time with them!) Many of them use the money they earn for college or other education.

All of our club members did well, and we're really grateful to all the buyers. If you ever want to buy some meat that is raised with loving care, I highly recommend going to a 4-H auction. These are some of the best animals you can buy, as they are fed well, exercised daily, and get lots of personal attention.

A few more photos from the Exhibit Hall. Desert Girl entered a giant zucchini.

Here's Desert Girl's Knot Board. She had learned how to tie all sorts of knots during the summer and made a sampling of them. I thought it was one of the coolest exhibits, although I might be a little biased.

There were lots of weaved hot pads in the fair from our club, as the kids had made them during some meetings.

Following the fair, Desert Girl couldn't resist decorating her backpack with her ribbons! Now the kids are anxiously awaiting their ribbon checks, which is money they get to do what they want with. They're also starting to think about what they want to enter this year. It's a great way to learn more about things that aren't taught in school.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Starting Our 2019 Backyard Bird Count

Hi! Do you like to observe birds? Want to see what's coming and going in your own yard?

We invite you to join us in Desert Survivor's Backyard Bird Challenge  for 2019. We've done it for the last few years, and the kids are getting pretty good at differentiating bird species now. All it takes is a piece of paper and writing down when you see different birds.

In 2014 we had 35 species, in 2015 we had 35 species, in 2016 we had 35 species, and in 2017 we had 36 species.

How many species do you think we got for 2018?

Here's our list:
1. Great Horned Owl (1.1.18)
2. Dark-eyed Junco (1.1.18)
3. European Starling (1.1.18)
4. Black-billed Magpie (1.1.18)
5. Eurasian Collared Dove (1.1.18)
6. Pinyon Jay (1.2.18)
7. American Goldfinch (1.2.18)
8. Cassin's Finch (1.3.18)
9. House Sparrow (1.3.18)
10. Red-tailed Hawk (1.5.18)
11. Common Raven (1.11.18)
12. Bald Eagle (1.17.18)
13. White-crowned Sparrow (1.18.18)
14. Canada Goose (1.19.18)
15. Northern Flicker (2.6.18)
16. Mountain Bluebird (2.7.18)
17. American Robin (2.19.18)
18. Sandhill Crane (2.22.18)
19. Killdeer (3.1.18)
20. Turkey Vulture (3.13.18)
21. Western Meadowlark (3.23.18)
22. Hummingbird (4.15.18)
23. Audubon's Warbler (4.3.18)
24. American Kestrel (4.4.18)
25. Mallard (4.19.18)
26. Northern Mockingbird (4.25.18)
27. Western Kingbird (4.25.18)
28. Barn Swallow (4.25.18)
29. Yellow Warbler (5.7.18)
30. Rough-winged Swallow (5.7.18)
31. Pine Siskin (5.8.18)
32. Bullocks Oriole (5.13.18)
33. Western Wood-Pewee (5.19.18)
34. Common Nighthawk (5.31.18)
35. Coopers Hawk (9.30.18)
We were delighted to watch owls raise two owlets in our backyard this year.
Well, looks like 35 species is pretty consistent for us! None of the lists is exactly the same, which makes me think each year that we can get up to 38 or 39. We've already gotten started this year, although the kids convinced me to put down chickens, and I'm not quite sure that's fair, lol! We'll keep our list on the sidebar (visible on your computer, not sure how you see it on the phone).
This post needs more photos, so
See this post for some more backyard bird photos. 

Happy birding!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Starting the New Year with the Diary of a Nevada Ranch Girl

I had an email from a blog reader about the Nevada primrose, and during correspondence, found out the writer had written several books. I bought a copy of 1957: The Diary of a Nevada Ranch Girl and was quickly immersed.

Jeanne Sharp (Howerton) was nine years old when she started her diary on January 1, 1957. She had gotten the diary as a Christmas present and watched as her father wrote in his diary every night. Inspired, she wrote every day about her life on a rural ranch about 60 miles from Ely, Nevada in Railroad Valley. She wrote about her chores, hobbies (raising parakeets was one), going to school (in a one-room school house where her mother taught), games she and her sisters played, her father's travels for Nevada Farm Bureau, visitors, and holidays. She also mentioned the atomic testing that was taking place on the other side of the mountain range from them on the Nevada Test Site.

Decades later, she went back to that diary and decided to publish it, with explanations of what she took for granted then.

The book is a fascinating look at rural life during the 1950s. In some ways it was what I expected, but in others it surprised me. It's a quick and fun read.

When I finished it, I gave it to Desert Girl (yesterday, on the seventh day of Christmas). She read a little and decided she wanted to start her own diary. She made her first entry today, on January 1. Here's hoping she keeps it up and in a few decades can go back to it and be reminded of how she lived as a Nevada Ranch Girl.

Limited copies are available from Amazon. I'm hoping more are out there, this book is great!

And here's an article about Jeanne's mother in the Las Vegas Review Journal.  She lived to age 98 1/2 (Ely Times obituary).
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