Archive for January, 2013

National Western Stock Show: Part 2

I apologize for the posting delay. This is part two from my day at the National Western Stock Show: Horses.

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Getting used to the arena for the Western Dressage Clinic with Cliff Swanson.

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Mom, Dad- I know what I want for Christmas. (One of these decades this will work. I just know it.)

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Is that a girl over there?!

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No, not the human ones . . .

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Of course, when I met him in his stall, all he wanted was attention. (Morgan stallions. Love ’em.)

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Four very different horses and riders showing us what dressage training can look like with a western flair.

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Apparently these critters, Norwegian Fjords, made the passage in Viking longboats when they invaded Scotland.

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Is it me, or is that a huge mule?

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I almost passed out when I saw this. Someone applied logic to the fact that horses can be dangerous? I’m used to Maryland where no such logic is applied, despite the strong horse culture in the area.

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Seven months old.

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Older, but not fully grown.

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The fully grown Shires don’t fit quite as well. However, you probably could fit a full community of hobbits in one of those.

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The Percherons don’t fit so well, either.

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The Clydesdales came in two types. Super, duper, shiny, show critters and . . .

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Real horses! Who happen to be more laid back.

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Meet the biggest donkey, and the biggest ears, I have ever seen in my life. If you were wondering, this is what a giant jack ass looks like.

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Horsepower.

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My camera didn’t have a prayer at capturing the Evening With Dancing Horses, but I heartily recommend it if you’re in Denver next year. I thought it was very cool that they had a meet-and-greet afterward with the stars. And their handlers.

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National Western Stock Show- Part 1

This is going to be mostly a picture post, again. However, I took so many pictures, that I need to split my one day at the stock show into four parts. This one will be the critters I saw in the Expo Hall.

According to the back of my National Western Stock Show Bar and Grill menu, this stock show started in 1906. It is the largest in the world by number of animals. The proceeds are used for scholarships to schools in Colorado and Wyoming for studying medicine and agriculture. Pretty cool, huh? Through my wanderings, I figured out that they weren’t kidding about the “national” part of the title. There were farms from as far away as New York and Massachusetts.

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The first event I wanted to see was Urban Farms: Fabulous Farm Animals.

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I was hoping for something like a lecture, but it turned out to be kid-oriented.

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That’s ok, though. More kids need to meet animals.

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Not that he thought so.

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The next spot was the shorn fibers . . .

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and their former wearers. (There had to have been alpacas and llamas somewhere, but I never did find them.)

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Pork butt. Also known as “Happy as pigs in . . . sawdust.”

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Pink with black spots.

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Black with pink spots. (It’s so much easier to be sure than with zebras.)

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Oreo pig! (Probably a Wessex Saddleback, but I didn’t check to be sure.)

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Chocolate pig! Is that where chocolate-covered bacon comes from?

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I have now seen a steer with a blowout. And so have you.

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How cute is she?

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Highland cattle are very hardy, coming from the Scottish Highlands, and produce lean meat.

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Also, they’re cute.

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And sweet- he was asking every passer-by to pet him while he was being groomed. Although I’m not sure how he saw them.

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Ha! I found the basis for the ton-ton’s heads! (Sorry about the picture quality.)

Unless I change my mind before I put up the others, the rest of the series should be horses, stockyard, and everything else.

Stock Show Parade

This past Thursday was the parade that opened the National Western Stock Show in Denver. To celebrate the history of the city, it opens with 1,000 head of longhorns being driven through downtown from Union Station to the fairgrounds. Naturally, I had to go check it out.

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Mr. Denver. The bull, not the cowboys.

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How cute are they?

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I was wondering if they were the ones that would supply the longhorns.

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I need to work on picking my spots for photography.

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There were lots of cowboys and cowgirls to keep the critters moving.

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I thought about being a mounted police officer once upon a time.

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Can you have a parade without a stagecoach? Not out here!

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When I heard “floats” I assumed they’d be pulled by tractors or trucks. Belgians are so much cooler.

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The glitz begins . . .

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A 1929 six-speed special, as the vanity plate proclaims. Looks like new!

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Now that’s a get-up.

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Is it bad that I forgot who he was, just that he was someone important?

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Here’s the beer! Oh, it’s more people.

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It ain’t a parade without a firetruck. (The little girl in front of me was waving to everybody. They were all waving back.)

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My favorites in the draft world. Percherons.

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I’m starting to think everyone around here owns a horse.

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I’m not sure who they were, but there were about a gazillion of them.

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They’re just like teddy bears! Evil, adorable, teddy bears.

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The cavalry even made it.

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With their chuck wagon. You know, between the two of them, those mules had an ear for each direction.

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Need we say more?

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen sleigh bells on a horse before?

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Now this part of the parade I recognize from growing up in farm country.

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A necessity after driving 1,000 head of cattle and at least 2,000 head of horses down city streets.

I hope you folks enjoyed the parade as much as I did! Hopefully I’ll get up to the stock show to get some pictures of that, too.

P.S. I might obsess a little over horses, but they were also 90% of the parade, so that many horse pictures isn’t totally my fault.

Solutions

I’m on a documentary kick right now. Everything from religion, to politics, to dance. At the moment, though, it’s peak oil and global warming. Of all the ones I’ve watched, what amazes me is that each one states that we have the solutions available to us now, we just have to apply them. Of all the points of views, agendas, and filmmakers, not one says “we need to wait for a future technology to fix this.” Many of them refer to technologies that are currently in development, but even without those, we could make great strides in fixing some very serious problems this world faces.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of these solutions is how very diverse they are. Some are all about the people. Some are all about the technology. Some are all about the cities. Some are all about the farms. Each one, however, offers a piece of the puzzle to put this world back together.

One of the people-centric solutions is a man in California that set up the equivalent of Habitat for Humanity for solar panels. He is giving low-income people, you know, the ones that really need the break, the ability to put in solar panels to reduce or eliminate their electricity bills. This is done through volunteer work and inexpensive loans from the city. More than that, though, is that the people installing the solar panels are disadvantaged in the job market. Many of them are on probation or have been in prison. Along with affordable electricity, he is also providing real job skills to keep the workers from going back to whatever got them in trouble in the first place.

Some other solutions include painting your roof white. A green roof is even better, but they can get complicated. I plan on talking about them some time in the future. However, simply painting your roof white helps reflect some of the sun’s rays that are no longer being reflected by our shrinking ice caps. This reduces both the solar heat absorbed by the earth and the solar heat absorbed by your house. Someone is working on fuel cells that hold energy by splitting hydrogen and oxygen. Not only could this hold solar energy for a rainy day, but you can feed it filthy water and it will give you clean water on the other end. This could be very helpful as our potable water supplies diminish. Did you know that biodiesel was originally a solution to used vegetable oil for cooking? I wasn’t so sure about the idea of growing crops strictly for fuel, but I really like the idea of growing crops to fry chips in and then using it for fuel.

Possibly the coolest idea I heard was about carbon sequestering. I’ve known for a while that trees are a great way to sequester carbon. The world has lost so very, very many trees that it is pretty popular to plant them if you are making some sort of an environmental statement. In fact, one of the reasons I want land is so that I can plant trees. However, a fair amount of Colorado isn’t really that tree-friendly. We are on the edge of the prairie, after all. Which is where grass comes in. Apparently, mycorrhizal fungi are really, really good at sequestering carbon. They attach to the roots of vascular plants in a symbiotic relationship. Therefore, growing grass, or having a garden, or other types of plants that are easier to grow than trees can be a huge boon to sucking carbon out of the air. The catch to this is that the fungi require healthy soil. In other words, you can, and people do, put in a lush lawn of Kentucky Blue Grass. However, the chemicals required to keep it alive in Colorado will kill the fungi. To start sequestering carbon, you need to build a healthy, organic little world in your back yard. Using a variety of local grasses and legumes that actually like growing here will help with that. Aside from pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and using the roots of the grasses to manage erosion, you will also be building up a healthy base to use if you choose to grow food in the future.

So many documentaries can be scary or depressing. Right now, though, I’m feeling hopeful. Yes, we are facing major issues. Yes, talking my roommate into painting the roof white won’t stop climate change in it’s tracks. However, having tangible things that I can do right now makes me feel empowered. Can I change legislation? No, but I probably should do more to influence those who can. Can I stop huge corporations from running rough-shod over people and places? No, but I should be doing more to stop giving my money to those that do. What I can do, right now (as soon as I publish the post, at least), is to start seeing if it’s too late in the season to get some seeds in the ground. In the morning I can go outside and decide how much of the yard I’m going to borrow from the dog to get some roots established before I give it back to her. These aren’t big things. It’s not Earth-shattering. What it is, is doable.