Sights and sounds from Ag Expo

July 28, 2005|by TONY BUDNY

Chris Thomas, 18, of Boonsboro, stood with his enormous limousine bull, Perfect Touch, as he drank from a bucket of water. He was preparing the bull for show to receive the grand champion ribbon. How big was this bull?

"He weighs about 2,200 pounds. He just won the prize as biggest bull in Tennessee for the All American Futurity last week," he said.

"I could show this bull for another six months if I wanted to. He could be 2,700 to 2,800 pounds before he's done growing," he said.

Thomas feeds 21-month-old Perfect Touch 30 pounds of grain a day, but attributes the bull's size to genetics.

"He just got there by himself, pretty much," he said.

Perfect Touch was a bit hard to handle during the show. Thomas tried to get the bull to move, but the bull preferred standing still.


"He had this same problem in Tennessee. He gets stage fright and doesn't want to move," he said.

Shana Corbett, 41, of Downsville, sheered one of her family's sheep, Patch, inside the sheep tent. Usually, she sheers the sheep in the spring and before the shows, but this week, due to the heat, she has sheered the sheep several times.

"This and the fans are about the only way we can help (the sheep) beat the heat," she said.

Corbett said the sheep have lost some weight this week because of the heat. Patch has lost about five pounds.

"It's a combination of heat, movement and stress. We move these guys around a lot and we just have to keep them hydrated," she said.

Corbett has 14 sheep, eight of which are at the show. Patch will be shown in class six of the weight classes this week.

She has two daughters at the show, Erin, 8, who is in her first year of 4-H, and Kaitlyn, 12, who is in her second year in 4-H.

"We're just getting started. They're learning as they go along," she said.

For Becky Wiles, 39, of Williamsport, Ag Expo is a family affair. She has three kids in 4-H - Brian, 18, Eric, 14, and Rachel, 9, who is in her first year of 4-H.

Becky has been here as long as Rachel has been alive.

"I had her in a backpack on my back when I first started here," Wiles said.

Wiles has portraits of winning animals and of her family at various shows around the state on display in her alcove. She also has ribbons, some from the Ag Expo, some from other shows, but she's equally proud of all the hard work put into each of them.

"I take pictures of the kids practicing, cleaning the animals, getting them ready for the show. I want people to know that this is not just a one-day thing, but an all-year thing," she said.

Wiles said one of the things her children enjoy most about the shows is seeing friends they haven't seen in awhile.

"The kids go off to different schools when they get older. It's nice to see them get together again," she said.

Brian recently graduated from Washington County Technical High School and Eric moved on from Smithsburg Middle School.

"This is the children's responsibility, being here at the shows. This is their farm and the parents stay on the farm most of the time and do the work. This is what they work for all year," she said.

Betsy Herbst of Ringgold has one job at Ag Expo - watch the petting zoo. However, she has a few others she does to keep things interesting.

Early in the day, she and Washington County Farm Bureau President Priscilla Harsh were making "pig visors" made from plastic pink visors, Styrofoam and plastic eyes, which are attached to the visors with hot glue. She gave them out to youngsters and some adults, she said.

Later in the day, Herbst and Harsh were making "hatching peeps," made from a black or white cotton ball stuffed into a plastic Easter egg.

"These are just to show the kids that a chick comes out of an egg," Herbst said.

The petting zoo has been an active place this week. Not only is it a popular stop for youngsters and adults, but some unusual occurrences happened.

Earlier this week, a swine and a cow gave birth. Their babies are on display in the petting zoo.

Two kiddie pools full of corn sit in the corner at the petting zoo's entrance. Herbst sees an empty pool.

"I started out with three bushels of corn in those pools. I've already had to put two more bushels in it," she said.

Herbst also has some animals of her own in the petting zoo. Chicks and baby turkeys sit in their home, furnished with wood chips, hay and a water dish. Another tub houses ducklings and Chinese goslings.

"I ordered them from certified hatcheries. As soon as they hatch, they send them to me in the mail and they can live for a day without food or water because they still live off the yolk. I have to feed them as soon as I get them, though," she said.

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