Thursday, August 31, 2017

Birthday Trip to Big Warm Spring at Duckwater

 Ava wanted to go to Big Warm Spring at Duckwater for her tenth birthday, and we fortunately were able to join in. This amazing hot spring is located kind of in the middle of nowhere, but that's part of the charm. I have a previous post that gives a lot more info about the spring.

The kids took turns with the underwater camera.

It was great having goggles and masks to see more.

The water was gorgeous, as always.

And no chlorine, so it doesn't hurt your eyes!

The main spring head is a cave-like hole about ten feet deep.

The older kids started floating down the channel, and I headed after them to see what they were doing. I got distracted by the abundant aquatic vegetation.

And the Railroad Valley springfish.

I couldn't see the kids, but I could hear them...

...they were taking a break just around the corner.

Then they wanted to keep heading downstream.

I stopped to admire the goldenrod. You always know that summer is coming to an end when you see the goldenrod blooming.

We eventually got out and walked back to the main pool. Some of the silt that had been stirred up had settled, allowing for some fun underwater photos.

It was a terrific afternoon! Happy birthday, Ava!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017 White Pine County Fair - Part 2: Other Exhibits

 Throughout the summer, the kids spent 20-30 minutes a day on their 4-H projects. They had signed up for 4-H the previous fall (it's free to sign up the first week of October). Desert Boy chose to show a lamb, shooting, legos, and computer coding. Desert Girl chose entomology and flowers as a Cloverbud (junior 4-H). In the end, Desert Boy dropped shooting as we couldn't get into Ely often enough for him to practice, and Desert Girl dropped flowers because although she planted quite a few flower seeds, very few came up, and we were supposed to have photos of her through all the stages of her project and we didn't quite manage that. Looking back on it, two projects and an animal is plenty for a beginning 4-H kid, and one project is plenty for a Cloverbud.

Desert Girl spent quite a bit of time chasing insects this summer. She mainly collected from inside our house and yard. She even managed to collect a couple wasps without getting stung, which I thought was pretty good. She did quite a bit of the identification, and was especially good at figuring out the butterflies. After she collected the insects, she put them in a kill jar, then pinned them, identified them, and wrote a label. We got a student insect collection kit from BioQuip that worked well for us.

When 4-H kids enter their projects in the fair, they are also interviewed. Desert Girl was worried about her interview, so I asked her some practice questions. She rocked her interview, telling the judge about each insect and how she had collected it. She also showed off her insect journal, which included a beautiful self-portrait of her collecting insects. :)

Cloverbuds get colorful ribbons, but the judge wrote that she would have awarded a blue to Desert Girl.

Desert Boy was delighted to get a grand champion for his lego model of the U.S.S. Andromeda.

He also got a Grand Champion for computers. He had signed up for computer coding, so we spent part of the summer working on Scratch, a programming website for kids. We made sure to follow the fairbook's requirements for the computer entry, which was quite different, but we managed to put in one page of his coding, so it all worked out.

Then it was time to check out the booths. The kids liked the interactive booths, like this one the USFS had.

The cotton candy eventually captured the kids' money.

The mining booth let the kids dig. They enjoyed that a lot.

The kids also participated in some games, like the water balloon toss.

I wanted the kids to get ideas for future projects, so we wandered around the exhibits building. Desert Girl loved this cake decorating with a beach and ocean theme.

Ava's favorite was this alligator cake.

They also enjoyed looking at the legos.

We also looked at the Open Class part of the exhibit building. For Open Class, you don't have to do an interview or keep a journal. You submit your entry Thursday night or Friday morning, it gets judged Friday afternoon, you find out how it did Saturday, and then Sunday afternoon take it home. So it's easy to do.

There weren't many baking entries in seniors (adults), juniors (pre-teens to teens), and children categories. Maybe next year we'll try something here.

Someone submitted homemade beer. Fun!

Hobbies gets lots of entries. I thought this collection of painted rocks was rather cute.

The girls liked this flip flop wreath.

Desert Girl had entered photos and was the only one in the Children category. She was delighted to get Grand and Reserve Grand Champion ribbons. Not only does she get ribbons, there are also premiums (money) for these ribbons. In a few months she'll get a check, and she'll get to spend the money how she likes. So that's another incentive to enter things in the fair.

Desert Girl also had five flower entries in the Children class, and that was enough to get her the big blue Sweepstakes ribbon. So she got to enter flowers after all (even through we only had yellow ones in the yard), and had fun with it.

One of our neighbors had some entries in the vegetable section that were quite impressive. It's fun to see what people can grow. Over on the right we admired drawings and paintings. So much talent!
The more entries, the more fun it is to see everything! Nearly every county has a fair, so I encourage you to submit something in your county fair next year. It's a lot of fun, can be an impetus to learn something new or improve on a hobby, and gives you appreciation of how much talent is out there.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

2017 White Pine County Fair - Part 1: Livestock

 After months of feeding, watering, walking, and trying to tame the lamb, it was time to take him to the fair. (We left his companion behind at home because he was a little sick. Thanks to Dave for keeping an eye on him.)

We arrived at the fair on Friday to weigh-in the lamb. Minimum weight was 100 pounds. "Trouble," (Desert Boy's nickname for the sheep) made it in at 101 pounds. He had been having an up-and-down feeding issue the last month and a half, so he didn't gain as much as we had hoped. But at least he made it in. Desert Girl was styling in front of the Sheep and Goat barn.

We entered our other exhibits (coming in the next post), and Desert Boy did Skill-a-thon (answer questions about animals) and showmanship clinic. Then we saw one of the horse races, went to the BBQ dinner, and then went to bed at a local motel. Saturday morning we were up early to get to the fairgrounds and wash the sheep.

Our preparations were rather simple, wash and brush the sheep. We observed others applying shoe polish or hair dye to the sheep's legs to make them darker and ice to the back to make it firmer.

We had a little spare time, so we decided to take Trouble out for a walk.

We had been coaching Desert Boy that if the sheep started to make a run for it, he was supposed to hang on and smile. He listened!

He seemed fairly confident, so we went back to the barn and waited for his class to be called.

Finally, it was time. (This photo is really overexposed, but I love the kids in their 4-H clothes. And the bib number conveniently covered Desert Boy's grass stains from getting drug on the grass earlier by the lamb).

Desert Boy kept his smile on.

Desert Boy weighs considerably less than the lamb, so it wasn't easy for him to control it (spending more time with the lamb before the fair would have helped). But he kept the lamb with him the whole time.

Much to our surprise and delight, he got a blue ribbon!

Then we watched the cousins with their steers. Megan ended up with a nice fourth place finish.

And Kayli, just barely peeking over her steer, had a good sixth place finish (also blue ribbon).

We weren't done yet, it was still time to show again for showmanship. Desert Boy and the sheep were getting along much better by now.

Showmanship was really long, and Desert Boy had a harder time keeping his eyes on the judge and showing his beautiful smile. He finished second to last, but still got a blue ribbon. (Grade inflation seems to have also affected judging, but we won't complain!)

Back in the pen, Desert Boy pretends he's mutton busting. It was a total joke, as after last year's experience with Desert Girl mutton busting and Desert Boy calf riding, neither ever want to rodeo again. And that's quite okay with me, it should help keep us out of the emergency room.

We spent the rest of Saturday looking at the exhibits and wandering around the fair (coming in next post), as well as going to a friend's birthday party and out to dinner.

We got to bed a little late, but still had to get up early to get the sheep ready Sunday morning for the White Pine County Junior Livestock Show and Sale.

The buyers had breakfast provided and then settled onto the bleachers by the covered arena.

Desert Boy with his sheep.

They're getting ready to go in.

Desert Boy kept his smile on. We were lucky to have some friends bidding on the lamb, and Desert Boy got a good price. That money will be going into his college fund.

The sheep still tried to get away, but Desert Boy managed to hold on. And even smile.

Photo with the buyers and the lamb trying to escape again. Thanks so much to the Gonders/Lystrups!

After a little break from the fair to run errands, it was time to go back and load the lamb on the livestock truck that was taking all the market animals away. The kids held up better than me. But later that night, they were very sad.

It still wasn't time to go--we had to clean the stall. Desert Boy looks like he's ready to hit the beach next!
Overall, I think having a 4-H lamb taught Desert Boy a lot about caring for an animal and a little about ranching business. He also gained some confidence about showing an animal.

We are so grateful to those who helped, especially Charlie, Gwendy, Melanie, and Tom.

Right now Desert Boy says he's never going to show a lamb again. We'll re-evaluate after awhile and see if that's still the case. Looking back at some of these photos may make him want to try it again...or maybe not.
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