A blue ribbon for cleaning

July 31, 2005|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Hal Spielman must feel like Bill Cosby's "Noah" character in Cosby's comedy routine about Noah's Ark.

Cosby's Noah wondered who was going to clean up his ark after the animals, who lived in it for 40 days and 40 nights during the flood sent by God to destroy the wicked world, left the vessel.

Like Noah, Spielman, chairman of the board of directors of Washington County Ag Expo, which ended its weeklong run Friday night at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, was left with a big mess of animal waste.

Unlike Noah, Spielman didn't have to wonder who would clean up the mess.

Volunteers began to step forward when the last animal was sold at the annual 4-H market Animal Sale late Friday night.


They worked into the wee hours, went home to catch a few hours sleep and came back early Saturday morning.

Lance Long arrived at the grounds at 11:45 p.m. Friday ready to pitch in.

By early Saturday morning, he had shoved a long, thick hose into the bowels of a huge underground tank that served the milking parlor, turned on the machinery behind his tractor and began sucking watery cow manure from the buried tank to the one attached to the tractor.

"It must hold 1,000 gallons," Long said, guessing the capacity of his tank.

The stuff in Long's tank, plus the huge piles of manure and straw that were rolled up by equipment in the cattle, hog, sheep and goat barns and poultry and rabbit tents, were being hauled to piles at the University of Maryland Research Farm adjacent to the 54-acre agricultural education center. It will be turned into compost for use by the university farm, Spielman said.

Other volunteers were taking down the temporary stakes, posts and gates that kept the animals separated in the barns and show rings. They were taken to the "bomb shelter," a huge storage building on the education center's grounds.

"We can't have anything permanent here," Long said.

The tents would be torn down later Saturday morning, Spielman said.

Washington County Detention Center inmates were also chipping in with the cleanup work, picking up trash and cleaning restrooms, he said.

Spielman climbed into the driver's seat of a big yellow hunk of moving equipment called a Gehl Dynalift. Dennis Reeder climbed into the bucket and Spielman moved some levers that lifted Reeder to the top of a big tent to remove electric cables.

Under the same tent, some rabbits and a few capons waited in cages for their owners to come for them.

"Hi, everybody," a cheerful Rebecca Martin greeted her bunnies.

Martin and her son, Max Petrie, 13, both of Clear Spring, were picking up Max's five show rabbits - three Polish, one Netherland dwarf and one Dutch.

"They all got blue ribbons and Duchess won a best in breed," Martin said, adding that Duchess happened to be the only one of her breed in the judging.

Max made the mistake of putting two of his Polish rabbits in the same crate. It only took seconds for them to realize they were of the opposite sex.

Helen Burkett and her children, Shane, 14, Kyle, 12, and Kara, 9, were in the main hall with other 4-H families collecting their exhibits. Burkett's children exhibited crafts and photos. Kyle added a computer exhibit and Kara some sewing.

"They all did great," Martin said. "They won blue ribbons, a few red and some champions. They all enjoy art. It kept them busy all summer."

She said she keeps her children's exhibits in a storage place at home. "We hold on to them for a while, but I'm not big on clutter," she said.

"We worked for a long time last night. It's the same way every year," said Tom Shaw, Ag Expo vice president. "By 11 o'clock, you'll never know there was an Ag Expo here."

He said putting up the event is a lot harder than taking it down. "It's grab and growl. All you have to do is make it disappear. When we're done, the place will be cleaner than when we came. We don't take any shortcuts."

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