Sights and Sounds from Ag Expo

July 23, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

Bella the big chinchilla is a hit

Kaelyn O'Neill has a cat and a dog, and previously owned hamsters and hermit crabs.

After visiting the Washington County Ag Expo Saturday, she decided she wants a new pet: A rabbit.

Kaelyn, 10, of Clarksburg, Md., was especially intrigued by a giant chinchilla - it looked like the other rabbits, only bigger - named Bella.

"It's bigger than our cat, which is quite amazing," Kaelyn said of the animal.

Although she wasn't around at the time, Bella's owner, Sarah Reid, later provided a tidbit of information that might have surprised Kaelyn.

"They get a little bit bigger," Sarah said of giant chinchillas.

A woman's touch

Bambi, a male market lamb, was putting up quite a fight when owner Matthew Burcker was trying to shear him Saturday, especially on his face and throat.


The lamb backed away from Matthew, 9, and reared onto his hind legs, prompting Matthew's friend, Karli Hose, 15, to straddle the sheep.

At one point, Karli took over shearing duties. Bambi barely moved when Karli took over the electric razor, even when she was shearing his head and throat.

They were shearing the 5-month-old market lamb in preparation for Wednesday's showmanship class.

It was just the second time Bambi has encountered the buzz of the shears.

"He loves people," Matthew said. "He just doesn't like to be sheared on the face."

Country cattle

File this under the "Who knew?" category.

As Steve Stoy fiddled with a portable radio set up near the stalls of his cattle Saturday, a passer-by jokingly asked him what variety of music the cattle like best.

Straight-faced and serious, Steve, 15, of Sharpsburg, replied: "You try to play a variety. You can play country. That's more mellow, more soothing. You can play rock. That's more upbeat."

Steve said he plays the radio all day for his three steer, a fourth steer owned by his brother and a fifth owned by his sister. The music prepares the animals for their upcoming date in the show ring.

At home, the animals do not hear too many strange noises, Steve said, meaning they could become startled in the show ring should a loud noise occur.

"This gets them used to (different sounds)," Steve said.

Any animal that's not too fond of one genre of music or another does get a reprieve.

"We turn it off at night," Steve said.

Tractor is real deal

Many of the tractors used in the youth tractor pull Saturday were spiffied up with a fresh coat of paint or a washing.

Not the International 966 driven by Tom Morrisey.

"Pulled it right out of the shed," said Tom, 17, of Smithsburg. "We were doing hay all week."

Entered in the sub-100-horsepower category, the tractor is owned by Misty Meadow Farm in Smithsburg.

One of the last tractors entered in the youth tractor pull, Tom took off in a burst of speed, and ended up stopping more than 277 feet down a dirt track - less than an inch short of the leader.

"We didn't have time to wash it. This is as farm stock as it gets," said Andrew Herbst, 18, whose family owns Misty Meadow Farm. "This tractor gets used every day."

Added Tom: "Duct-taped seat."

Indeed, a good portion of the old tractor's seat had been mended with duct tape.

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