Near-record numbers attend Fremont County Farm and Ranch Days
Riverton-area residents turned out in near-record numbers for the more than 37 presentations over two days during the Fremont County Farm and Ranch Days in Riverton.
The event, Feb. 5 and 6, drew more than 160 people for lunch Feb. 5 and more than 155 on Feb. 6, plus high numbers for the seminars.
"I attend every year," related Dawn Thorson-Johnson of Riverton, who viewed "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" about beneficial and bad pasture plants. "This is a neat way to learn about new research."
University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service educator Barton Stam gave information about the "good" plants, and Rachel Mealor, UW CES range specialist, presented information about the poisonous plants that plague livestock.
"I have pasture I'm trying to get to produce better. I think I have all of the poison plants discussed--if not a few more," Thorson-Johnson said, and laughed.
Certain topics drew large audiences. A standing room only crowd attended a presentation on integrating legumes into grass pastures, and more than 20 attended a non-agriculture presentation on the mountain man rendezvous. "Holy Toledo," said Ron Cunningham, UW CES educator in Fremont County, and who helps organize the annual event, about the attendance. "There is a great mix of information, and this a great time of year when there isn't the start of spring-type activities. People can visit with their neighbors. I don't care if people just sit and visit. They still learn something."
Perry Kauffman of rural Riverton attends year after year. "I really like to learn, and this is just a great program," he said. "Ron Cunningham is a stellar man. He puts on a great program."
Kauffman is a Master Gardener in Fremont County and has pasture. "I learn a lot from this. Small growers can take away something they can use."
Jay Norton, UW CES soils specialist, attributes the high cost of fertilizer and current economic conditions for the high interest in the legume-grass presentation.
"The cost has increased three to four times the last couple years," said Norton, who presented information with Anowar Islam, UW CES forage agro ecologist. "If you introduce legumes into an established hay land and you manage carefully, you can get all the nitrogen you need from it being fixed by the legumes. But it requires a pretty intensive management."
Many raised their hands when Norton asked if anyone was using the process. "The grass-legume mixture is a cool thing," said Norton. "In pastures, livestock recycle the nutrients, so it's a self-sustaining system that emulates Mother Nature."
The economic slowdown grabbing hold across the nation takes longer to affect agriculture, but its effects will probably be seen over the next several months, and they may last longer than in other sectors, predicted Alex Malcolm, UW CES educator in Fremont County.
"I think it's what you are seeing across the country in terms of the uncertainty," he said. "The mood is somewhere in the middle--people realize it's still good, but are waiting to see what will happen and be prepared for what happened in the early 1980s. I think it's going to show who has the better management skills."