Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

"There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult."

Warren Buffet

Open Forum

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Straight from the Horse's mouth

Duane A. Lienemann,
 UNL Extension Educator,
 Webster County

July 29, 2011 Edition

First of all I have to make an observation of nature. Did any of you make note of all of the fireflies that were everywhere 2-3 weeks ago? I marveled at them when I came home in the dark of evening, wondering how many there were and why there were so many. It also brought me back to my childhood chasing them, trying to put them in a jar. This afternoon coming home I couldn’t help but notice thousands of dragonflies plying the skies. I don’t recall ever seeing them other than over a pond as a kid, and never so many of them flying, helicopter like, over corn and bean fields. I will leave the whys and wherefores to my entomologist friends and instead go to a topic that seems appropriate this week.

Discussion at the coffee shop this morning included the topic of grilling steaks and eventually moved to the cost of those steaks and other foods and how much of that dollar the farmer really gets. It piqued my interest in trying to discover how much more money that we now spend on food. Rational people would assume that we are paying a higher percentage of our income on food than ever before, but as sports reporter Lee Corso is fond of saying……”Not so fast my friend!”
While it’s true that U.S. food prices have been rising recently, believe it or not the percentage of disposable income Americans spend on food continues to shrink. Regardless of what you may think ---Americans continue to spend less of their dollar for food. It is true that U.S. consumer is spending a bit more of their disposable income to purchase food than the previous year, but they still enjoy the cheapest, most abundant supply in the world, OK, you may say – back that up.
One only has to go to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) to look for research on food and there it is. It was as if things just fell in place for me as I was researching this topic. It just so happened that the ERS just released the latest "meat prices spreads" this Friday afternoon. If you are interested you can find these spread sheets on the internet at: I have to admit I am surprised and little puzzled on what these “spread sheets” show. Basically, you will see that there is a fairly large spread between what farmers and ranchers receive for a pound of beef and what retailers take in. Farmers received 46.3 percent of the retail value of a pound of beef. That's about what they got in 2005. So when people blame the farmer for higher prices at the grocery store the last couple of years, they may want to get their facts right. The farmer doesn’t get any more of the food dollar than they did years ago.
Now going back to the coffee shop discussion on how the price of that steak they wanted to grill over the weekend had gone up tremendously. I thought this was a good time to discuss who really gets the beef (or the money for it) when it comes to the cattle market. I wondered if anyone had looked at the distortion that seems to be in place between what the retailer gets and what the producer of that food actually gets. Interesting enough, one of the issues the USDA has been looking into over the past year is whether the markets for food are distorted in a way that unfairly diminishes the share of the food dollar going to farm producers. I really thought it may have moved to the positive side for producers but surprisingly, not much has changed over the past several years. When it comes down to it, farmers and ranchers still receive less than half of what is collected at the cash register for a pound of burger or even that rib-eye steak.
According to this report the share of American consumer’s disposable income spent on food averaged just 9.4 percent (5.5 percent eating in and 3.9 percent eating out) during 2010, matching the record low set in 2009. I have to admit that really surprised me, so I had to dig a little deeper. I found that on a historical basis it may surprise you. In 1929, the first year reported by ERS, Americans spent 23.4 percent of their disposable incomes on food. That is 2 ½ times what we spend today. They spent 20.3 percent on food at home, and 3.1 percent on food away from home. The highest percentage reported took place in 1933, during the peak of the Great Depression, when Americans spent 25.2 percent of their incomes on food. By the mid-1930s, the percentage began to generally decline each year until moving upward during the mid- to late- 1940s and World War Two, when the percentage hovered in the low 20s. Since 1948, the slope has been distinctly downward. In 2000, Americans spent less than 10 percent of their disposable income on food for the first time. If you compare that to other countries it doesn’t sound too bad. Compare that to folks in Mexico, who spend 22 percent, China, 28 percent and Russia, 37 percent. If you want to know who spends the highest percent of their dollar on food, you may want to look at Jordan, whose residents spend 41 percent of their money on food; in Indonesia it’s 46 percent, and in Azerbaijan, they use the greatest proportion of money on their food—51 percent. Think about that for a moment. Maybe we don’t have it so bad.
Why has food become relatively cheap in the total scheme of things? One of the main reasons has been improved efficiency in agriculture. For instance, corn yields in the U.S. averaged less than thirty bushels/acre prior to the 1930s. But with the introduction of hybrid seeds around 1935, the intensified use of fertilizer and herbicide (in 1972, nitrogen fertilizer was added to 96 percent of corn acreage), insecticides, and genetically-modified seeds, by 2010 the average corn yield reached 158 bushels/acre and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Livestock production has also greatly increased in efficiency. Never before have we been able to produce more pounds of animal protein on less input of feed and labor. It should be obvious, even to our detractors, that Americans continue to get a bargain with their food dollar. We should all thank our producers and efficient farmers and ranchers for making that bargain possible. Now enjoy that steak!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:

Now is Time for Balanced Budget Amendment

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson to Ben Franklin, balancing the budget united America’s founders. Nearly 200 years later, in 1982, President Reagan declared his support for a balanced budget amendment, stating “only a constitutional amendment will do the job. We’ve tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a balanced budget amendment, we can stop government’s squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy.” Thirteen years later, in 1995, Congress was one vote shy of passing a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget.
Nearly 30 years after President Reagan’s declaration and 16 years after Congress’ failed vote, government continues to recklessly borrow, spend, and overtax. Our national debt is nearly $14.3 trillion – higher than any time in American history – and growing. Of every dollar the government spends we borrow 40 cents and send the bill to future generations, which is why every child born today owes $46,000 to our creditors. America is on the verge of drowning in red ink.
Washington’s inability to control spending on its own makes it clear the only effective way to do so is through an amendment to the Constitution. Adoption of a balanced budget amendment would help ensure spending restraints are set in stone, and provide certainty to help create a better environment for job creation and economic growth across the country. Families, businesses, local governments, and 49 state governments, including Nebraska, are forced to balance their budgets. The federal government should be no different.
Congress has tried spending pledges in the past, but once these pledges fade from the headlines the spending binge continues full steam ahead often guised as “emergency spending.” Families across Nebraska know “emergency spending” is a luxury not afforded in the real world. If your credit cards are maxed out, spending more money is not an option.
A constitutional mandate would legally bind both the president and Congress to produce annual budgets which spend no more than the government receives in revenues. It would end the explosive annual deficits which have ballooned to record levels. Last year alone, our annual deficit was $1.4 trillion, plus the billions in interest being paid on the $800 billion borrowed for the failed “stimulus” bill the year before. These figures are unconscionable, and only the legal force of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget will guarantee a change in our fiscal course.
For too long, increases in government spending have been seen as the means to fix our country’s woes. The reality is we can no longer afford the tired playbook of failed Washington policies. Out-of-control government spending is the problem, and cutting spending must be the solution. Getting our fiscal house in order is not only achievable, it is imperative as Washington needs to get serious about changing the way it spends the American people’s money. Implementing a balanced budget amendment will help restore our economy and save the American dream for the next generation.
For more information about spending issues, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at

Semi Vs. Train

BLUE HILL — A Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train was struck by a semi trailer truck belonging to K-6 farms of Kensington, Kansas near here at midday Friday July 22.  The accident happened at the train crossing on Highway 281 three miles south of Blue hill near the highway 4 junction.  The accident  caused heavy damage to the truck but no injuries, the Webster County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The collision occurred between 12:30 and 12:45 p.m.
The driver of the eastbound truck tried to stop, but was unable to avoid striking the first engine of the northbound train,according to  Chief Deputy Sheriff Ron Sunday.
Although the trailer full of soybeans remained intact, the impact ripped off the truck’s hood and smashed the engine. The truck was pushed back and slid sideways. Sunday said. The train suffered little damage.

Johanns Votes For Boehner Plan to Avert U.S. Default

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.)  voted in favor of a plan to responsibly address the debt ceiling while also significantly restraining our unsustainable spending. The bill, crafted by Speaker of the House John Boehner, passed in the House before the Senate rejected it, 41-59. The bill would have raised the debt ceiling by $900 billion, allowing the U.S. to continue paying its bills, while simultaneously cutting federal spending by $917 billion and demonstrating Congress is ready for a serious effort to rein in government spending and debt.
"This bill addressed our three immediate challenges: cutting spending, raising the debt ceiling, and establishing a framework to get our country back on a long-term, fiscally sustainable path," Johanns said. "I find it disappointing that the Boehner plan failed, especially so close to the debt limit deadline. It's time to put elections and politics aside and actually solve this problem."
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the U.S. Treasury will not have enough money to pay all of the country's obligations beginning on August 3.
The Boehner plan would have cut federal spending by $917 billion, an amount more than the debt ceiling increase.
Additionally, it would have called for the creation of a Joint Committee of Congress, tasked with crafting legislation to reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over ten years. The credit rating agency Standard and Poor's this month warned it is considering downgrading the U.S. government's credit rating "if a debt ceiling agreement does not include a plan that seems likely to us to credibly stabilize the U.S.' medium-term debt dynamics."
The Boehner bill also would have required passage of Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment; Sen. Johanns is a co-sponsor of the Senate version.


July 29, 2011 – Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson issued the following statement after the markets closed out the worst week of 2011 in response Washington’s inability to pass a debt reduction plan ahead of a default crisis expected on August 2nd:
“Today’s closing bell on Wall Street rang out just how dysfunctional Washington is. Wall Street had the worst week of 2011 as the Dow dropped 537.92 points, 4.2 percent of its value, in reaction to the debt deadlock on Capitol Hill.
“Washington’s perpetual gamesmanship is having painful consequences for Nebraskans and all Americans who are watching the markets fall, retirement funds shrink, bond ratings slide and the overall economic recovery of our nation slow.
“Already, the debt deadlock has cost stockholders about $400 billion, pushed down the value of the dollar by .6 percent and commodities such as corn and wheat down 1 percent. The more Congress delays, the more bad news we’ll see.
“Nebraskans want Congress to put aside the political games and use common sense not calamity to find long-term solutions to our nation’s problems, and they want that now.”

Lt. Gov. Sheehy to Lead Nation's Lieutenant Governors Association

As Chair, Lt. Gov. Sheehy will focus on common vision
(San Juan, Puerto Rico) - Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy today was elected by the nation’s Lieutenant Governors to lead the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA). Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy is now Association Chairman.
Through NLGA, the nation's lieutenant governors discuss shared concerns and seek to influence national dialogue. NLGA is the professional association for the officeholders first in line of succession to governor in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.
I am grateful to serve as the Chairman of the National Lieutenant Governors Association and for the opportunity to highlight Nebraska in this leadership position,” said Lt. Gov. Sheehy. “As Chairman, I will focus on the shared vision Lieutenant Governors have for our states and for our great nation. We will find and foster multi-state and regional solutions to common issues our states face.”
“The lieutenant governor was elected to this position bi-partisanly by his peers from around the nation,” said NLGA Executive Director Julia Hurst. “He served the past year as Chair-Elect leading the policy efforts of the nation’s lieutenant governors and he will now serve as Chair until July of 2012.”
“Chairing the National Lieutenant Governors Association provides an important opportunity to help gather and lead our peers in a bipartisan discussion of critical regional and national issues,” said NLGA Immediate Past Chair Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. “I've enjoyed working with Lt Governor Sheehy this past year and I'm pleased to pass the chairmanship to him.”
“I want to recognize and thank Lt. Governor Anthony Brown for his leadership and service to the NLGA. The years of service he has shared with the nation are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as ex officio member of the executive committee.” said Lt. Gov. Sheehy.
The NLGA Executive Committee he leads generally meets three times a year and is responsible to chart the course of issues and work to be pursued by the nation’s second-highest state and territorial officeholders. In addition to its specific duties, the committee will also address issues of mutual concern to all members.

Year 2 for State Fair in Grand Island

This year will be the second year of the Nebraska State Fair  in Grand Island.  In it's first year in Grand Island the fair drew 310,000 atendees.  This  year Executive Director Joe McDermott says the Nebraska State Fair will be “even better” than last year and larger crowds are expected.
 McDermott and Shaun Schleif, marketing director, say they expect even more people to attend and  improvements have been made over the past year to better accommodate everyone.
“We accomplished most of what we wanted to last year,” McDermott said. “In a short period of time, we constructed 550,000 square feet of facilities, completed a $14 million project. So as far as major construction, we are done for now. We’ve spent this past year making improvements where needed.”
The Kidz Zone on the North side of the fairgrounds has been vastly improved..
“Last year, a lot of that area was just dirt and with the wind, it turned into a dust zone,” McDermott said. “We’ve taken care of that with grass and trees. There’s shade now and we’ve added better signage.
“As a whole, the fairgrounds have much better landscaping, which we obviously couldn’t get done last year,” he continued. “The landscaping will be a work in progress, but a lot has been done.”
McDermott said another area of improvement is the campground. “Last year, there were 50 pads. This year, there’s 130 and hopefully we’ll be able to add another 70 next year. We want to make fairgoers’ stays more enjoyable.”
One point of focus has been Older Nebraskans Day.
“When the fair was in Lincoln, the attendance on Older Nebraskans Day was typically between 2,500 and 3,000 people,” McDermott said. “We absolutely did not expect 10,000 people like we saw last year. We were able to get 7,000 people into the event center to see the Mel Tillis concert, but yes, we had to shut out about 3,000. This year, we feel we’ve rectified that situation.”
He says Crystal Gayle will perform two concerts that day, one at 11 a.m. and another at 3 p.m. “So we have the concert capacity for 14,000 this year and shouldn’t have any problems.”
Older Nebraskans Day was historically held on the Tuesday before Labor Day, but it should be noted that it will now be on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
While free concerts are still part of the fair’s attractions, tickets must be purchased for Larry the Cable Guy and Willie Nelson. Tickets may be purchased from Ticketmaster.
Another attraction requiring a paid ticket is the draft horse show, slated for opening weekend. McDermott said in order to pay for the state-of-the-art facility and provide appropriate premiums to participants, the decision was made to have a minimal charge.
“This is one event we hope to keep building,” McDermott said. “Last year’s crowds were larger than ever before.”
Attractions have been added on the east side of the fairgrounds, in the vicinity of the Thompson Arena, and there will be more commercial vendors in that area than last year.
Schleif said they also expect more livestock exhibitors than last year, “now that people have seen and used the incredible facilities. We’ve heard so many comments about how nice the facilities are . . . they are really top notch.”
Transportation inside the fairgrounds will be improved, “so it will be easier for people to get around to wherever they want to go.”
They expect nearly 700 volunteers from Central Nebraska will be assisting visitors, as they did last year, “which made everyone’s experience much more enjoyable,” McDermott said. “The whole community welcomed the fair to Grand Island, embraced it, and it showed.”
Fairgoers were asked to fill out surveys last year — “the numbers showed that 91 percent said they planned to return this year,” Schleif said. “And a similar percentage said they would highly recommend the fair to their family and friends.”
“And we are very excited that for the first time, we are set up electronically so anyone can buy tickets, Midway passes, etc., on our website at,” McDermott said. “Just go on the website and pretty much anything you want to find out about the fair is there. Every piece of information is available on your own home computer — take a look and make your plans to visit the state fair this year.”

2011 Concerts
Friday, Aug. 26: The Band Perry
Sunday, Aug. 28: Larry the Cable Guy
Wednesday, Aug. 31: Crystal Gayle
Thursday, Sept. 1: Jeremy Camp
Friday, Sept. 2: LeAnn Rimes
Sunday, Sept. 4: Willie Nelson
Monday, Sept. 5: Cheap Trick

Nebraska State Fair Signs Crystal Gayle for Older Nebraskan’s Day

Crystal Gayle will be performing at the Older Nebraskan’s Day Festival at the Nebraska State Fair, Wednesday, August 31, at 11am and 3pm.
Crystal Gayle has been a favorite of audiences of country and popular music since attaining national prominence with her first chart record in the mid seventies. According to State Fair Special Events Coordinator Chelsey Jungck, “Crystal is best known for her timeless classics,  Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue, You’ve Been Talking in Your Sleep, When I Dream, Half the Way and her duet with Eddie Rabbit, Just You and I. With over 21 Number One hits to her credit, she has been awarded numerous times by the Grammy’s, the County Music Association, the Academy of County Music and the American Music Awards.”
Jungck says, “Gayle will be performing two concerts this year, the first at 11am and the second at 3pm. We knew from our large crowds last year that one concert simply was not enough. Two concerts will hopefully provide every one an opportunity to enjoy Crystal Gayle.”
Crystal Gayle has released an album of standards called All My Tomorrows, has released two inspirational albums and is currently in the studio working on a new album. Gayle received her own star on the fabled Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009.
Wristbands for Crystal Gayle do not include gate admission and will be available at the Heartland Events Center Box office on Wednesday, August 31 on a first come/first serve basis. Tour operators interested in securing tickets to the Gayle concert should contact Chelsey Jungck at 308.382.1710.
The Nebraska State Fair runs from August 26 through September 5 at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rain brings welcome break to hot weather.

Last night some welcome rain fell on the city of Blue Hill.  Temperatures yesterday registered above the century mark and stayed that way into the evening hours.  But after midnight severe weather alarms began to sound and the rain began to fall, at first creating a hot steaming environment and eventually resulting in a cooling period.  Various reports indicated that the area received from .80 to 1.5 inches of rain.  Today's temperature is forecast to be a mere 90 degrees,  hot enough to keep the corn growing for sure. 
The freshness that a rain brings to the landscape is always welcome and last nights rain certainly gave some relief to heat wilted vegetation. 

Monday, July 25, 2011


Duane A. Lienemann
 UNL Extension Educator,
 Webster County
July 17, 2011 Edition

I am finally sitting in air-conditioned comfort in my easy chair and reflecting on the past couple of weeks. After months of planning, tons of paperwork and organization, a big part of the summer experience is over. It is hard to believe that our County Fair is over and we will soon be getting ready for the Nebraska State Fair and Ak-Sar-Ben! In that rumination, it came to me how gratifying it was to see so many people pull together to make their respective county fairs happen. It is what makes the rural areas what they are. It is indeed a piece of Americana and a validation of the Midwest work ethic. This year it was doubly important for our fair in that it was extremely hot and humid and full of threats of severe weather. I cannot remember in all my years of working fairs such a long stretch of hot and I might add HUMID weather. It really made for challenges for our exhibitors, our livestock and the people putting on the fair.
It doesn’t matter what county you are in or what time of summer it is, county fairs are special. I know I am not alone appreciating all those that come together to pull off what has become the largest social event of rural America. If you didn’t get a chance to attend your local fair, let me paint a little picture for you. The old adage says “If you can't smell the livestock, you are not at an authentic county fair.” Anyone that walked through the sheep, swine and beef barn knows that aroma and knows it is what makes the fair tick. There was the incessant sound of always hungry beef, sheep, goats, hogs and the cackling of nervous hens, roosters, ducks and geese. It is so nice to see those bright, smiling and sunburned faces of those young kids in their 4-H T-shirts, excited for the day and for another adventure at the Fair.
Then throw in the running kids, the lights and sounds of the carnival, the infusion of funnel cakes, 4-H “Yum-Yums”, and the Methodist church pies. This really is a slice of America that persists here amid the grueling heat of summer.
Rockwellion it may be, but it's something we dare not let go of because it's so real. It becomes a big family reunion, with a sense of camaraderie among people who perhaps haven't seen one another all year. And beneath it all, there lurks the spirit of competition, whether it's for the best sewn dress or the Grand Champion Market Steer.
You would have seen young people, leaders, parents and even grandparents all helping the exhibitors as they washed, blew out, clipped, combed, and applied various dressing and prepare their respective animal to parade, with hopeful others, in front of the judge who determines the ribbon placing and perhaps their chance at a championship run. You would have seen appreciative audiences “oohing and ahhing” at the show animals and betting each other on which one will come to the top or perhaps trying to outguess that judge. It’s a mixture of old and the new 4-H and FFA exhibitor t-shirts, cowboy hats, seed corn caps, and sunburned faces. It is a site that only people who frequent livestock shows and fairs understand
It's not all livestock, of course. There was the open class entries, static exhibits of photographs, clothing, foods, and all kinds of things in the buildings outside of the livestock area. The sounds and excitement of the rodeo, music by the band that blasted from the open air auditorium as the sun went down. You would have seen people sitting in the now-empty show arena, just relaxing and talking over the day or taking protection from a fast moving storm. You would have had seen giggling kids running through the grounds and petting the plethora of animals that just love the attention. You would have seen future 4-Hers being rolled around in strollers by mothers and fathers who talk about their days at the fair.
There were of course the older folks who walked through the barns and the grounds and reminisced about how it used to be. You have to be cognizant of the smells of cream can stew, bratwurst or hamburgers on a grill in little community of camping trailers, the hot coffee and the sounds of crowing roosters, squealing pigs, bleating lambs, and hungry beef. In the evenings, there were the barbeques and lines of people excited for the night’s entertainment and rodeo. The racing of engines and clash of metal-to-metal was evidence that you were at the annual demolition derby that is nearby. On the last day you would have heard the chant of the auctioneer as the fair came ever closer to an end and the big crocodile tears of young exhibitors saying goodbye to their animal friends. You would have seen kids and adults that get too close getting pushed into the water tank or exhibitors dousing each other and anyone else close enough with buckets of water. Placards are placed over the Champions and the animals are bedded down for their last night of the fair. Those things are what make the fair a special thing to people in rural America. That is what it is all about. That is what makes it real.
I want to congratulate all of our exhibitors, for not only their accomplishments, but also for their demeanor and conduct. I always hear admiration from the judges. I want to personally thank everyone who is involved with the local county fair. Not just those at Webster County, but all the county fairs across the country. There are so many volunteers all across our state who work hard to keep this tradition alive and well. Thank those folks and the local ag society or fair board for all they do. Don’t forget the 4-H and FFA leaders who help guide our youth. I, for one, am proud to be a part of that tradition and am determined to help insure that the Rockwell picture continues. I cannot even think of summer without the County Fair! I still approach the fair as the wide-eyed kid that saw the championship animals and that big Ferris-wheel at the Franklin County Fair so many year’s ago! It is so good to see people pull together to prepare, put on and clean up after another great county fair. That is what it is all about. The county fair is community. It is “Family owned, farm raised and county proud!”
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:


Duane A. Lienemann
 UNL Extension Educator,
 Webster County
July 22, 2011 Edition
I remember now why I prefer the Fall of the year. Cool weather! I guess you could throw in football for good measure. There is nothing like a cool fall night and football to make you feel alive. This incessant heat and humidity has a tendency to make you feel the opposite. I really believed that we would get a reprieve after the brutal climate that was bestowed upon us during our county fair. We did have a couple of nice days, but those other days were enough to make you look for a watering hole. I can’t seriously remember when we had a spell like this. I know I heard my parents and grandparents talk about the 30’s and 40’s and I remember the hot and dry spell of the early 50’s and even in the mid 70’s and during most of that time there was little or no air conditioning in homes or vehicles. We at least can get some release in today’s world.
We, in South Central Nebraska, of course, remember the 7 year drought that we experienced between 2000 and 2007, but I don’t recall the heat and humidity both being so brutal for so long. It can get somewhat depressing, but if you look around, we actually don’t look too bad – so far. Yes, I know, looks can be deceiving. The pastures are starting to show the effects, as are some of our dryland crops. You do see some “pineappling” of corn and milo leaves, soybeans are cupped in some fields and there is a blue look to a lot of the crops, alfalfa and pastures. Some stressed areas from too much moisture early on are turning white. But as a whole, things are holding on. One only has to look to our neighbors to the south and southwest to feel pretty good about our state of affairs.
One thing is for sure, this environment has not been so kind to livestock. I have met the “dead wagon” much more often than I would like to. It of course brings my thoughts to the animals who suffer through this worse than any other organism. With a long range forecast of more of this “brutality”, I thought we may want to look at some effects and tools for dealing with heat stress this week. We sometimes become rather impervious to what is going on around us when we experience these little acts of nature. I don’t know if you really get used to it, but perhaps tolerate it a little better and then we may get a little complacent. We may not see that things that are happening around us and actions may be too late.
There isn’t much we can do concerning the crops, especially if we don’t have irrigation. No-till operations have done wonders for water conservation and management of our crops. If a producer still does conventional till he may want to rethink that as every time you make a pass through the field with a cultivator or disk you make the soil even hotter and moisture is compromised, as are the plants. I have been watching fields these past couple of weeks and have noticed that everything seems to be pollinating. You could probably get verification from people who suffer from allergies. I have also heard people complain of headaches which they blame on corn pollination. I am not a doctor, but I suppose that is possible.
What is the big deal about pollination? While it is common knowledge that corn and even other crops like heat, it is not conducive to the plant at pollination. For corn, the ultimate temperature for pollination is 86 degrees. We have been over that by quite a bit over that last couple of weeks. Pollination is a critical period for corn development and yield. Pollen shed occurs over a two-week period. For kernels to develop, silks must emerge and be fertilized by viable pollen. Silks grow about 1 to 1.5 inches a day and will continue to elongate until fertilized. Temperatures greater than 95° F with low relative humidity will desiccate exposed silks, but not impact silk elongation rates greatly. Pollen is no longer viable once temperatures reach the mid 90's or greater, especially with low relative humidity. Fortunately, pollen shed usually occurs from early to mid-morning when temperatures are lower. If the corn markets have been a little unstable the last couple of weeks, concern about heat stress could be the reason.
While we can’t really have much effect on the crops, we can however have an effect on our animals. The best thing we can do is keep an eye on them and look for the signs of stress and then do something about it. Temperatures like we are experiencing coupled with high humidity can cause heat stress. This stress causes general discomfort, decline in animal performance and even death. Heat stress is defined as any combination of temperature, humidity, radiation and wind producing conditions higher than the animal’s thermal neutral zone. Beef cattle cool themselves primarily through breathing. They sweat only about 10 percent of what humans do. Light colored animals can experience sunburn and Angus and other black animals can be easily overheated by radiant heat because the black absorbs more of the sun's radiant heat.
Either open-sided sheds, trees, or other shade can reduce the radiant heat by as much as 40 percent. I might even suggest rigging a shade for livestock that don’t have access to it in open pastures or lots. Corn cribbing stretched over quick built pole frames works wonderfully well. Clean, fresh and preferably cool drinking water in good supply is vital to beef cattle in hot humid weather. Beef cattle cool themselves by panting and some sweating. In panting, there is water loss from the lungs. Since beef animals do not sweat, in extreme heat, they may need to be sprayed with water to keep them cool. Whatever you do make sure that they be given plenty of fresh water, shade and ventilation. If a four-legged farm animal refuses to eat, is salivating excessively, exhibits labored breathing or has convulsions the vet should be called and the animal bathed in cool water starting at the ribs and working the way down the legs. Don’t forget about your pets, and don’t forget to take care of yourself – It can sneak up on you. Keep hydrated and ----keep cool!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:

Friday, July 15, 2011

More County Fair Pictures

Fair goer enjoys baby goat.
Hanna Janda of Aurora

Trevor Alber with steer  Friday


Excessive Heat Warning or Excessive Heat Watch  are both in effect through the weekend, from Friday afternoon through Tuesday morning for this area.

Afternoon high temperatures will reach into the mid to upper 90s  this weekend. Not only will it be hot but it will be humid as well resulting in heat index values well over 100 degrees. Areas under the Excessive Heat Warning will experience heat index values as high as 113 degrees. Conditions will remain very warm overnight as well with overnight heat index values expected to be in the mid 70s to lower 80s.
Some things to consider when it's extremely hot out:
Stay indoors in an air-conditioned room whenever possible.
Try and plan outdoor activities for early in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are cooler and the sun isn't as strong.
Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion. Heat illness is likely when extreme heat is expected like this weekend.
Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.
Stay out of the sun. If you are outside, stay in a cool, shaded location.
Check up on relatives, neighbors, and pets.
NEVER leave children or pets in cars since temperatures inside cars can become deadly in a matter of minutes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photos from Webster County Fair

Pen of three sheep
Trevor Alber

Showmanship contest

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NGPC invites Public Comment

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission invites the public to comment on its 2011 waterfowl hunting season recommendations. People may provide feedback by sending an e-mail to, attending a public informational meeting, or attending the public hearing at the Game and Parks board of commissioners meeting on July 29.

Staff recommendations for the waterfowl, crow and falconry seasons will be brought to the board of commissioners at its meeting in Lincoln. The seasons will be approved by the board later in the summer.
Following are the public informational meetings – all set for 7 p.m. – scheduled around the state to discuss waterfowl season recommendations:
Bridgeport, Prairie Wind Center, 424 N. Main St., July 12
Broken Bow, One Box Shooting Complex, 5 miles southwest on Ryno Road, July 12
Lincoln, Game and Parks headquarters, 2200 N. 33rd St., July 13
Ponca State Park, Willow Room, 2 miles north of Ponca, July 13
Alma, Johnson Center, 509 Main St., July 14
Alda, Heartland Public Shooting Park, 6788 Husker Hwy., July 15
Following is a summary of proposed recommendations for the waterfowl, crow and falconry seasons:
Earl Teal – Low Plains Unit: Sept. 10-25; High Plains Unit: Sept. 10-18
Early Canada Goose – eliminate early season
Youth Waterfowl Season – Oct. 1-2
Ducks and Coots – Low Plains Early: Oct. 8-Dec. 18 and Dec. 23-24
Low Plains Late: Oct. 15-16 and Oct. 22-Jan. 1
High Plains: Oct. 8-Dec. 18 and Dec. 23-Jan. 15
Pintail and Canvasback – Low Plains Early and High Plains: Oct. 8-Nov. 15; Low Plains Late: Oct. 15-16 and Oct. 22-Nov. 27
Dark Goose – East Unit: Oct. 8-16 and Oct. 22-Jan. 25; North Central Unit: Oct. 8-Jan. 20; Platte River Unit: Oct. 22-Feb. 3; Panhandle Unit: Nov. 5-Feb. 3; Niobrara Unit: Oct. 22-Feb. 3
White-Fronted Geese – Statewide: Oct. 8-Dec. 18
Light Goose Regular Season – Statewide: Oct. 8-Jan. 6 and Jan. 21-Feb. 3
Light Goose Conservation Order – Zone 1: Feb. 4-April 15; Zone 2: Feb. 4-April 1; Zone 3: Feb. 4-April 15
Crow – Statewide: Oct. 1-Nov. 15 and Jan. 20-April 6; Special Public Health Hazard Order: Nov. 16-Jan. 19
Falconry – Low Plains: Sept. 1-30 and concurrent with duck seasons in Low Plains Early and Late zones; High Plains: Concurrent with duck seasons in High Plains zone
Also, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved Game and Parks’ recommendations for waterfowl zone changes. The changes, valid for five years, also require approval of the commissioners. To view the zones, visit, then click on Hunting, then Waterfowl.

Glenwood No longer serving Lochland Area

07/12/11   Glenwood Cable of Blue Hill began providing television services to the Lochland area of Hastings in 1988, but friday night the Hastings City Council released Glenwood from their contract to serve that area..
 Hastings City Administrator Joe Patterson said Glenwood is a rural telephone provider that can no longer afford to provide service to the Lochland area.
The 82 Glenwood Cable customers in the Lochland area will have to be switched to Charter if they choose to keep cable in their homes. Glenwood representatives say they will be taking down their equipment in Lochland sometime within the next 60 days, so it can be replaced with the Charter equipment.

Monday, July 11, 2011


July 10, 2011 – Today, Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson met with Washington County families who have been forced from their homes by floodwaters. Nelson also toured areas of the City of Blair that are at risk or have already been affected by overflow from the Missouri River.
“Today I stood on a Missouri River bluff near Blair and saw a river that looks more like a wide, endless lake,” Senator Nelson said. “This year’s historic flooding has already caused a lot of hardship, economic loss and tremendous expense for families, businesses and communities up and down the river. My heart goes out to the people here – and throughout Nebraska and the Midwest – who have had to leave their homes, farms and businesses.”
Nelson was in Washington County to meet with people who are displaced to temporary emergency housing on the campus of the former Dana College. The City of Blair has made 75 rooms available in a three-story dormitory, which includes small kitchens, laundry facilities, and common rooms with toys and games for children. Churches and local businesses have been volunteering to provide dinner each night, and area residents have been volunteering to clean and set up the dorm rooms.
“It’s important for me to hear firsthand accounts about how the floods are impacting people’s lives. I will make sure their voices are heard in Washington, D.C. and they get the federal relief they need to put their lives back together after the waters have receded. I’ll work with federal officials to expedite the process as much as possible,” Nelson said.
There are 111 people currently checked into Blair’s emergency housing units at Dana College, including 31 children. Many are from an apartment building that had been evacuated on the north side of Blair, and several others are from a trailer court that had to be shut down along the west bank of the Missouri River. Other temporary residents include people from both Iowa and Nebraska whose routes to work are disrupted by the flood.
The cost to each family is $150 per month, with the City of Blair and Washington County splitting all additional expenses. The first people checked in on June 11.
“The volunteers pulling together to help their neighbors during this flood are a great example of our Nebraska spirit shining through adversity,” Nelson said. “And the public officials from the City of Blair deserve a lot of credit for working so hard to meet the needs of citizens in their hour of need.”
After leaving the emergency housing site, City Administrator Rod Storm showed Nelson many of the areas of Blair affected by the flooding. Nelson got to examine the municipal water facilities and the levees protecting the east side of Blair, and inspected a damaged apartment building in the northern part of town.
Blair is one of the few municipalities in Nebraska to get its water supply directly from the Missouri River and not from groundwater wells. The drinking water and wastewater facilities are protected from the floodwaters by levees, and additional pumps are now being used to discharge wastewater during the flooding. Currently, city officials do not believe Blair’s water supply is in danger.

Gov. Heineman Comments on Latest State Tax Receipts

July 11,, 2011 (Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today commented on June state General Fund receipts, which were released today by the Nebraska Department of Revenue.
Net General Fund revenues for June were above the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board projections by $19 million, with $359 million in actual receipts versus the $340 million projected for the month. The state ended FY 2010-2011 above projections by approximately 4.3 percent.
Gov. Heineman said, “The continued gains in state receipts are a clear indication that Nebraska’s economy continues to improve. Additionally, we are rebuilding our Cash Reserve Fund to $362 million. This is good news for Nebraska and demonstrates that Nebraska’s fiscal practices are keeping us in better shape than most of America.”

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Duane A. Lienemann,
 UNL Extension Educator, Webster County
July 9, 2011 Edition
Well, it is here for many Nebraska Counties – Fair Time! I know that the county in which I live just finished its clean up day and in fact I just got back home from doing some final touches before the 4-H and FFA kids come in with their horses for the Working Ranch Horse Competition and the annual Horse Show. I also know that a couple of surrounding fairs are just finishing up, right in the middle of, or perhaps just beginning their run. It seems to me that we just got done with last year’s fair and now it is upon us again. Where does that time go?
In last week’s column I spent some time outlining the virtues of the county fair and in particular the country in county fair. I knew when I wrote the piece that fair was just around the corner, but Holy Cow – did that week go fast. Every year I wonder if we will get everything done that needs to be done. You hope the judges will remember to come, that the weather stays decent, and behind it all is the hope that everything goes like it is supposed to, or at least how you have it planned. Ultimately people, like me and the many volunteers and staff that work to pull off this wonder of country life, just hope that the young people, their families and the people in our collective communities have a great time, and the experience and opportunities are positive ones for our youth. I know in visiting with fair board members and particularly the parents, FFA advisors and 4-H Leaders that this is a labor of love. Almost to a “T” they all say it is about the kids!
Speaking of kids, I don’t know how many of you have seen a 4-H ice cream roll. It is so good to see the young people, parents and grandparents talking, laughing and enjoying the looks upon the faces of the kids as they roll cans of ice and rock salt surrounding smaller cans of a plethora of different flavors of “home-made” ice cream back and forth with their partner. I didn’t get to sample any this year as I had to get the bugs out of the sound system, but by all reports the ice cream was delicious and by the noise that came from the event area – they were all having a good time. It will take some awful good recipes to beat the “strawberry cheesecake” ice cream that I sampled a couple of years ago! I unfortunately did not hear what the most unique flavor was this year – let me tell you though, there have been some good ones!
It will not be long now and all the static exhibits will be in place, and you will hear that cacophony of sounds that make each and every fair what it is. The sounds of chickens, roosters and ducks, as well as the incessant bleating of sheep and goats, the grunts and squeals of pigs always wanting to eat, and of course the gentle mooing of the bovine species as they lay in their stalls or are walked to their tie outs or perhaps to the watering tank. What is especially music to my ears is the excited chatter of the kids as they catch up with their friends and discuss how much better their animal is than the one they had last year.
The “tank”, I have to tell you that when you see that water tank – you know what the future will hold as the fair winds down and the last day arrives. That is when you know the work is done, the awards have been presented and it is time to let your hair down. You never want to turn your back to a young 4-H’er on the last day of the fair unless you are prepared to change clothes or at the very least cool down with an impromptu shower. Then these young people are off to the demo derby and the rodeo or perhaps the carnival rides, just as excited and full of energy as they were on opening day.
As this column hits the newspapers we will be right smack in the middle of our fair and I should know if everything is going smoothly as you would hope it will. It seems we always get a couple of blistering days and perhaps a good shot of rain and perhaps a storm or two during the fair - and one thing is for certain - it is over much quicker than what you thought it would be. I do know that the old bones and muscles don’t forgive the extra workout they receive this time of year like they used to. I end up hurting in places I didn’t know I had. Feet, hips, legs, arms, and back all start giving detail to the abuse of former years. It seems much hotter than it used to (even in cooler days), the distances between buildings and events seem a lot further apart, and the nights seem later and the mornings earlier. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The people I talked to during clean up hit it right on the nose. It is about kids. I can’t wait to see them prepare and show their animals, to watch them run, yes I said run – from one building to another or perhaps to the 4-H Food Stand, or maybe to help chase a wayward lamb or calf that slipped its halter. I can’t wait to see the parade of animals in front of the judge, and walk through the 4-H and FFA exhibit hall to the smell of fresh baked goods and the beauty of photography, horticultural items, unique wood or metal projects, sewed goods, etc. I always stop to look at the welding boards and critique them, just as I did my former students in welding class. That always brings back some great memories.
It is always good to talk to old friends and past 4-H and FFA members who now come back with their kids to try to capture for them some of what they experienced when they were their children’s age. Some even drive miles and miles each year, just to take in the fair. It really doesn’t get any better than this for people like me. Strangely those inflictions I spoke of miraculously seem to go away. If you haven’t made it over to the fair yet – come on over. And when you do, give me a holler and then sit in the bleachers at the show arena or one of the many benches around the grounds and watch. See if you can see what I see. Sit back and enjoy this little bit of Americana – while we still have it!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Johanns: Jobs Report Confirms Obama Is Making the Economy Worse

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor released its latest jobs report showing unemployment rose to 9.2 percent in June with only 18,000 added jobs, the slowest pace of hiring in nine months:
"The foundation of our economic trouble is our government's ongoing reckless spending, and in a situation demanding strong executive leadership, President Obama is failing our country," Johanns said. "The American people don't want more stump speeches and can't afford more legislation like the stimulus and health care law that have frozen up the economy. We will not get our country's fiscal house in order until everyone, Democrat and Republican, recognizes this reality and works together to cut the deficit and restore fiscal responsibility."
"This is not a matter of political rhetoric, the numbers are undeniable: the policies of the Obama Administration are making this country worse. Under the President's watch, we will add more to the public debt than every Administration from Washington to George W. Bush combined; Standard & Poor's has given a negative outlook on government credit for the first time under any President; and Congressional Democrats have failed now for 800 days to produce a budget. President Obama's course of action was to offer a budget proposal so embarrassing that not a single U.S. Senator voted for it."

The Big Potential of Small Scale Hydropower

Hydropower is often thought to require massive dams and complex infrastructures to process millions of gallons of water to power entire cities. Small streams and irrigation canals are rarely considered resources to generate hydropower. In reality, the future of hydropower lies in these nontraditional sources.
Hydropower, the original green energy, remains the largest source of non-carbon emitting energy in the world. It provides low-cost electricity, reduces harmful carbon emissions, and accounts for 67 percent of America’s total renewable electricity generation.
Dams and reservoirs have provided affordable and reliable energy for generations of Nebraskans. The ability to harness the power of moving water has paid tremendous dividends for Nebraska’s economy. While it is vital to continue making the most of our existing hydropower infrastructure, promoting new efforts designed to produce hydropower from smaller sources is important.
The thousands of miles of irrigation canals, pipes, and ditches across the Third District create tremendous opportunity for new hydropower generation. Many irrigators want to use small projects to reduce electricity costs and generate much-needed revenue to repair aging infrastructure. Furthermore, increased revenues from the sale of this renewable energy could result in lower irrigation costs to farmers. Finally, irrigation water delivery would continue while utilizing flows for clean, emissions-free energy production.
In February, I reintroduced the bipartisan Small Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act (H.R. 795) to encourage the next generation of hydropower innovation. Recently, H.R. 795 had its first hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee.
Unfortunately, small scale hydropower faces unnecessary, overbearing regulations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC’s current requirements, most of which are unnecessary or outdated, stifle innovation in the small scale hydropower field by making projects financially prohibitive.
One-size-fits-all rules limit opportunity for small projects to expand our sources of clean, renewable energy while also hindering entrepreneurship and economic development across the nation. H.R. 795 explicitly exempts conduit hydropower projects generating less than one and a half megawatts, which is enough power to supply energy for more than 1,000 homes, from FERC’s permitting rules. Such hydropower produced in man-made water delivery systems does not consume or disrupt water deliveries and has no environmental effect on temperature or aquatic life. This commonsense approach would eliminate bureaucratic hurdles faced by small scale ventures to allow them to contribute to our nation’s energy portfolio.
Hydropower, on both large and small scales, can and should play a critical role in our nation’s clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. The Small Scale Hydropower Act, which is endorsed by the National Hydropower Association, Family Farm Alliance, and the National Water Resources Association, would help stimulate the economy of rural America, empower local irrigation districts to generate revenue and increase domestic energy production - all at no cost to taxpayers.
For more information about energy issues, the latest developments from Congress, or to sign up for my e-mail newsletter, please visit my website at

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Open Forum

Open Forum is your chance to comment on breaking news or ask a question -- on any issue. Any topic is fair game, although Blue Hill Today's comment policies still apply. (see bottom of left hand column.).Go ahead and sound off on anything. News, sports, weather, current events, government, social events. We are listening. A new Open Forum link may be re-posted every Monday (or there abouts) to keep it towards the top of the recent posts .Of course, your completed news article, news information, pictures, story idea, or suggestions to improve this site can still be sent to Blue Hill Today by e-mailing us at

Quote of the Day

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and to impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." - Woodrow Wilson

Monday, July 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army” -- Gen. George Washington, to his troops before the battle of Long Island

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gov. Heineman & Dir. Fenner Announce BSDC's Second Federal Certification

Certification Starts Flow of Federal Funds
July 1, 2011
(Lincoln, Neb.) Today, Gov. Dave Heineman and Jodi Fenner, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, announced that the second of five parts of the Beatrice State Developmental Center (BSDC) has been federally certified. As a result, the certified unit will now receive federal funding.
BSDC is transitioning from one large institution into five smaller, independently-licensed Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF). Each unit must pass a state licensing survey and two federal surveys to become certified.
“This is good news,” Gov. Dave Heineman said. “I applaud the work of Jodi Fenner and her team at BSDC. They are making significant progress in providing quality services to individuals with developmental disabilities.”
BSDC’s State Cottages Intermediate Care Facility now meets all eight conditions of participation in the ICF program. This makes it eligible to receive federal funding, effective on the last day of the final survey visit, which occurred on June 30, 2011. Thirty-two individuals reside in the three cottages that comprise State Cottages.
Fenner said, “We’re on track to have all five ICFs at BSDC certified in the near future, and I want to thank employees for their commitment to the people we serve as we move forward. The work done over the past several years continues to reap positive results, and the remaining three ICFs at BSDC are on track to be fully certified.”
Examples of improvements at BSDC that made certification possible include a comprehensive overhaul of services, having a full range of medical services, more community involvement for individuals, having consistent staffing and assigning staff to one of the five areas, and improved training and support in the homes, and more employment opportunities for individuals.
All five areas on campus are now licensed by the state and two are federally certified. BSDC has asked that federal certification surveys be scheduled for two of the remaining three areas, with the final ICF being ready within the next few weeks.
Fenner said, “BSDC has several celebratory activities planned on campus for residents and community members to commemorate Independence Day. Now they have even more to celebrate.”

Friday, July 1, 2011


Duane A. Lienemann,
 UNL Extension Educator,
 Webster County
July 1, 2011 Edition
You will have to forgive me. I love this time of year, almost as much as the fall of the year. You can smell the fresh cut wheat in the air. Trucks full of grain are hauling the fruits of harvest to the bin at home or perhaps straight to the elevator. Combines are plying through the fields and even some tractors with balers behind are following, leaving big round straw monuments to the harvest and labor of the farmer. It started earlier this week south of the river and, of course, down into Kansas  Driving down the highway or country roads you just knew that the hot weather was bringing the wheat to that bright yellow “harvesting” color. The entire area in southern Nebraska is now seeing the harvest.
It is true that there will be some late harvested fields, for sure after the Fourth of July and perhaps after county fair time. I too have seen the green strips throughout many of our wheat fields. This undoubtedly was the late heading wheat that had a late start – waiting for the moisture that we so desperately needed last fall and into early spring. When it did come, even fields that didn’t even look like it had wheat in it turned green. Some fields, and probably certain varieties, are just going to be a little later in maturing. It may make for some interesting harvest in some fields because there is a mix of ready to go wheat in with a good sprinkling of green wheat.
From what I have heard there are some pretty good yields, and some of those fields that were hit with disease late in the season perhaps don’t have the yield potential. I have heard a lot of producers say that they are hovering around the average yield. Of course that will change come the next session at the coffee shop, as everyone knows – “The first liar doesn’t have a chance.” I can’t wait to take the tally. I am betting that we may not have a bad wheat harvest after all.
The other thing that I love about this time of year is that it is County Fair time! Ever since I was a kid the county fair has been an object of fascination and wonder for me. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the County Fair! I would like to revisit something I put together a couple of years ago.
The Country in County Fair: Forget Ferris wheels and cotton candy. At the Webster County Fair, it's all about "just bein' country." The fair, harkens back to the good old days when fun meant family, animals and spending time outdoors. The hustle and bustle of daily life is replaced by the cacophony of bleating animals. Men in blue-jeans, sweat stained hats and boots gather in the hot sun to talk crops and the bids on cattle, hogs and sheep. Youngsters lounge in the shade of the animal pens, discussing how their steers fared in showmanship events.
Fairs are a unique summer and harvest celebrations that have been a part of the American scene since the early 1800's. They're the smells, fresh-cut wheat, candy apples, barnyard manure, roasting sausages, teenage perfume, and the sweat of laboring contestants - there's a distinct aroma that only fairs and festivals possess. And where else can you find a rodeo, beef, hogs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and blue-ribbon pickles in one place. Fairs offer something for everyone.
Childhood memories lure us back to a fair each year where we admire lipstick-red tomatoes, can ride a carousel, eat cotton candy even if it sticks to our face. Fairs celebrate rural America, vegetables, farm animals, sewing and home cooking. Fairs from their earliest days have been yoked to the carnival culture with its sideshows and games of chance. We all like Fairs. They are an important part of America and Nebraska.
The Webster County fair is hardly atypical. These ventures always revolve around agriculture and family bonding. People involved with the 4-H and FFA work really hard to maintain the old-fashioned county fair and atmosphere. There is an effort to do things that people can relate to, but we try to maintain the basics of what life was 50 years ago. The Webster County fair, now in its second century in Bladen, relies mostly on livestock shows, rodeo and children's contests for entertainment.
As an old time 4-Her and FFA member, fair time is far more work than I remember as a kid. The 100° days seem hotter, and the snow cones and funnel cakes seem more expensive. Nonetheless, I've yet to attend any activity that boasts as much community support, creates so many hours of quality family time, and has a higher percentage of kids who understand the value of competition, sportsmanship, hard work and having fun. Fair time gives dads a chance to really connect with their kids – their efforts focused on helping them achieve their goals. Meanwhile, the moms just continue what they do all the time -- keep the family together, and sacrifice mightily for their kids. Both sets of grandparents will be attending to make it all the more enjoyable for the kids, and probably to watch their children experience what they lived through. I bet grandma and grandpa will arrive with the hope of feeling the same sense of pride they felt with their children. It doesn't really matter what your goals are, or the activity you choose to compete in. There's just something special about melding community, kids, animals, ag and fun into an annual event. I consider spending a couple of days at a county fair as a right of passage, a reinforcement of what makes America unique and special. Everywhere you look at the fair you'll see proud dads, super moms, great kids, and the support network of family and community that enables those kids to have an experience of a lifetime. And the neatest thing of all is that it's all in our own backyard. See you there!
The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or UNL Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, UNL Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email to: or go to the website at:


The 105th Webster County Fair at Bladen, Nebraska begins Friday July 8th with the annual clean-up.
The first  events start at 1:00 pm on clean-up day when 4-H youth bring their favorite recipes for home made ice cream and  participate in an ice cream roll.  The ice cream made using duct tape, coffee cans and ice will then be judged.
The Working Ranch Horse Competition is set to begin at 7:00 pm on Saturday evening, July 9th and features 4-H and FFA exhibitors working their horse through events that emulates tasks that would be required on a cattle ranch. Sunday, July 10 the 4-H & FFA Horse Show begins at 9:00 am.
The 4-H music contest and fashion show is at 7:00 pm at the Blue Hill high school gymnasium in Blue Hill on Monday evening July 11.
Tuesday, July 12 the home environment, miscellaneous agriculture exhibits, foods, horticulture, photography, and other static exhibits will be judged.  
The 4-H and FFA Poultry and Rabbit show starts at 8:30 am Tuesday.
All other livestock with the exception of 1st year bucket calves and stocker feeders will be checked in and weighed throughout the day. Please check your Webster County fair premium book for exact times for each species.
The 4-H/FFA Sheep Show starts at 8:30 am on Wednesday morning, July 13.
The 4-H/FFA Meat Goat Show will follow the 4-H and FFA Sheep Show.
Once again there will be a “Best Dressed Goat” contest held at the conclusion of the live show.  This always proves to be entertaining.
 The 4-H/FFA Beef Show begins with  the Beef Showmanship contest Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 pm.
 The 4-H/FFA  dog show begins at 4:00 pm with the cat, small and exotic animal show at 7:00 pm
Thursday, July 14 at 8:30 am is the 4-H and FFA Swine Show. The swine show includes a breeding gilt class which is separate from the market swine show.
The First Year Bucket Calf competition will be held Thursday and includes record book review, an interview and a complete bucket calf evaluation and showmanship event.
Thursday  the State Fair qualifying Round Robin Showmanship contest startis at 2:30 pm.
 The final even thursday will be an Ak-Sar-Ben qualifying 4-H/FFA Beef Team Fitting Contest starting at 4:00 pm.
The 4-H/FFA Market and Breeding Beef show begins Friday, July 15, starting at 8:30 a.m. with finals of the Webster County Beef Showmanship. The top two senior and top two intermediate beef showmen will be determined at the Wednesday afternoon show, and will come back on Friday morning to compete for Grand Champion Beef Showman under a different judge.

July 16th, Saturday, 9 AM  The annual 4-H and FFA Livestock Premium Auction and special Webster County Youth Foundation activities will include a  Silent Auction with items donated by area businessmen and producers to benefit of the Foundation.
 Premium on the Grand Champion of each species will  be sold at the beginning of the auction with the opportunity for the buyer to have their picture taken with the animal and exhibitor that they are supporting. The a copy of the picture will be given to them and  to local newspapers.
The Rainbow Classic,  pre-4-H youth   showing their pets and/or sibling’s exhibits in front of a special guest  judge will be held Saurday at 12:30pm.

The Webster County Junior Leaders will also sponsor a “Boot Scramble” each night before the rodeo with two age groups – 4 to 6 and 7 to 9.
All exhibits will remain in place throughout the day on Saturday until evening so that fair-goers  have an oppertunity to see the exhibits . This includes static exhibits at the 4-H Exhibit Hall and the animals from the livestock barns.
  “Champions Under the Lights” will again feature and highlight the  Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions in the market division of  beef,  sheep, goat, rabbit and poultry.  They will be  penned in the show arena under the lights of the arena,  swine will be highlighted on the west end of the hog building. The other exhibits will be in the barns.
The champions in the 4-H Exhibit Hall will be highlighted in the “Marilyn Davis Hall of Fame”.
All non-auction exhibits will be released at 11:00 pm on Saturday night or Sunday morning before noon. All leaders, 4-H and FFA youth, parents are expected back at the fairgrounds on Sunday morning (July 17) to load out the market animals on the trucks for the buyers and to participate in the post-fair clean-up day.

The 4-H and FFA events are just one part of the Webster County Fair.  Open Class Exhibits, vendors and booths, and Moore’s Greater Shows  Carnival make up the rest of the fair.
The Webster County Rodeo on Thursday, July 14 includes  a free Beef Barbeque beginning  5:00 pm followed by a watermelon feed, the Rodeo Princess Contest, and registration for the KRVN Bighorn Diamond Edition Truck from 5:00-7:00 pm.
The Friday Rodeo"s theme is “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” night with a portion of the gate going to support the fight against cancer.  The Pork Barbeque begins at 5:00 pm and ends with a dance with music provided by “Sweetwater.” Saturday  the Demolition Derby starts at 4:00 pm.  South Central Cattlemen are offering steak sandwichs  from 4:00 pm til gone.  Sweetwater returns.
. There is the traditional wild cow race each night of the rodeo and a chance to win a special Montana Silver belt buckle.
For a more complete list of activities or any questions concerning the youth portion of the fair, please contact the Webster County extension office in Red Cloud at 402-746-3417 or check out the web site at:

There will be reserved parking for 4-H and FFA members and parents again this year. Vehicle and camper parking will not be allowed on the rodeo grounds but a special lot located east of the sheep barn has been set up for camper parking. This area requires passes that can be obtained from the 4-H office at the fairgrounds. Livestock trailers and vehicles are expected to be parked at the lot located to the east of the beef barns on the Timm/Sorensen lot.


Happy Birthday to these Blue Hill area residents, both present and former!!!!
July 1 Tom Johnson,  Carrie Kort  and Ardyce Burge
 July 2 Joni Mack Dnville,  Shirley Kort, Teresa Hafer,  Alan Jordening (1953)
July 2 Connie Meyer (1957), and Glenda Shaw
July 3 Keith Waechter,  Rita Grigg, Dakota Jameson
July 4 Rae Wormuth and Travis James
 July 5 Cal Burge, and Jolene Hafer
 July 6 Tracy Premer
 July 7 Mike Dack,  Kevin Willems and Rosella Harrifeld
 July 7 Keri Schunk and  James A. Buschow (1967)
July 8 Marilyn Hubl
 July 9 Matt Thramer
 July 10 Addie Long
 July 11 Kelly Skrdlant
 July 12 Shirley Wademan
July 14 Evelyn Rose,  Dale Myers (1948) and  Matt Moorman (1973)
 July 15 Sam James
 July 16 Ken Peil,  Abbey Meents Lienemann
 July 17 Brittanie Berns
 July 18 Irene Ensign and Patricia A. Kranau (1943)
 July 19 Rick Myers and 19 Steve Hubl
 July 20 Jason Bostock, William Bostock, Mark Berns
 July 22 Norman Jordening, Mike Kort, Gary Schmidt and  Cissy Boutin
 July 23 Amber Wengler (1981) ,  Andrew S. Piel (1986)
 July 23 Janice L. Krueger (1935)
 July 24 Adam Kearney,  Tara and Tessa Alber, Doris Hartman
 July 24 Brenda Cook (1963),  Chyanna Sharp (1994)
 July 25 Deana GRoves (1960),  Victoria Schwab, Leland L. Ostdiek (1935)
 July 25 Sarah Lynn, John Weddingfeld and  Charissa Willicot
 July 26 Joyce Lampman (1948),  Dale Kuhn (1937), Tylynn Dodson (1994)
 July 31 Sara Alber,  Mike Karr and Illa Mae McConkey