Four State Ag Expo opens

Four-day event offers close-up view of country life

Carolyn Klinnert works on training her dog, Zion, at the stock dog clinic Thursday at the Four States Ag Expo. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Carolyn Klinnert works on training her dog, Zion, at the stock dog clinic Thursday at the Four States Ag Expo.

CORTEZ - The Four State Ag Expo on Thursday opened as it has every year since 1982 to highlight the old and new in farm equipment, products and services that contribute to country life.

"We average 10,000 to 15,000 visitors a year," said Radiance Beals at the information booth. "We see license plates from the four states - Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona - and beyond."

Ranchers, farmers and backyard gardeners could bone up on grafting, the use of fertilizer, colic in horses, rangeland forage insurance, conservation easements, beekeeping, genetically modified seed, and poultry and egg production.

In the Grange hall, Rod Sharp, an economist from the Colorado State University Extension in Grand Junction, explained how a "tool" developed by a couple of colleagues can tell cattle and dairy cow owners whether it's smarter to buy hay or sell their herds.

The tool is a computer program, which, when loaded with specific information, indicates whether the value of keeping an animal is greater or less than the salvage (sale) value.

Input includes number of animals in a herd, typical conception and weaning rates, days per year that hay is fed, market value of an animal and knowledge of tax laws related to livestock sale because of drought.

The stubborn drought was the catalyst for developing the decision tool, Sharp said. The tool is a mouse click away, at www.coopext.colostate.edu/ABM.

Marc Garlinghouse of Lewis, who raises alfalfa and 50 head of breeding cows, seemed impressed.

"I think this could help me," Garlinghouse said. "The drought hurt me in 2012."

In the main exhibition hall, more than 100 vendors and exhibitors sat or stood ready to answer questions about products ranging from earth-moving equipment and tires to an oleander-based anti-aging product and a weight-loss system.

Among equipment exhibitors, first-timer David Staheli had something new - a machine with a diesel-fueled boiler that mists hay as it is baled to maintain a 12 percent moisture content.

The Staheli West factory in Cedar City, Utah, has sold 75 of the machines from Texas to Kansas to Oregon and is set to export to Australia this year, Staheli said. The $165,000 machines are best utilized on ranches of 500 acres or larger, he said.

Staheli developed the misting concept in the mid-1990s using his wife's pressure cooker. He began to market his product three years ago.

The Ag Adventure Barn contained a variety of exhibits for visiting schoolchildren.

Carol Wilson, a third-generation resident of Lewis, exhibited the canned and dehydrated fruits and vegetables that feed her family.

Nancy Nelligan with the Alpaca 4-H Club demonstrated how alpaca fiber is carded and wrapped around a small portion of hand soap to create a washcloth for bathing. Club members sell the washcloths to raise funds.

The name of the club dates from the time that alpacas were the only activity for the youngsters, Nelligan said.

Cathy Sumeracki arrived from New River, Ariz., to give instruction on handling stock dogs. Sumeracki said her training method is the only one certified by well-known dog trainer, handler and behaviorist Dawna Sims.

"I teach dogs and people to handle stock," Sumeracki said.

Sumeracki was assisted by Ignacio resident Shawna Davis, an apprentice trainer who is scheduled to teach stock dog training in Kline this summer.

Zion herds sheep around the pen at the Four States Ag Expo. Carolyn Klinnert was learning how to train her dog at the stock dog clinic. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Zion herds sheep around the pen at the Four States Ag Expo. Carolyn Klinnert was learning how to train her dog at the stock dog clinic.