Winter 2016 - Edition 12

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Local Conservation District
Helps With Cow Chip Throwing Contest

By Lyle Stoltman
     Conservation District employees are here to help and cheerful Kelly Wallace is no different. One of her favorite sayings is; “I love it when a plan comes together”.  She was sure to be pleased by the outcome of this unusual request which came into the CD office in Moses Lake, WA.  
     The phone rang and the caller was briefly put on hold before being transferred over to Livestock Program Coordinator Lyle Stoltman, who was eager to assist. The caller’s name was Dee, she was from a Seattle area RV club (Kirkland) that would be spending time in Grant County  the following week. They were organizing a “cow chip” throwing competition and were looking for a source of cow pies for the competition.  She was referred from another agency who told her the Conservation District could help. Her request was for 20 or so dried cow pies but admitted she would be happy if he could help her find at least one (1). Stoltman was a little bewildered because of the unusual request. He told her he could probably find a source but had to think about it. She said she would call him back after the weekend.
     Stoltman thought about possible locations all weekend. There are a lot of cows in Grant County and there is a lot of manure generated.  Initially he thought about contacting some of the feedlot managers he works with, who raise thousands of cows annually. That equates to a lot of cow pies produced every day. But, because the cows are raised in confinement every square foot of those facilities is stepped on every day and the cow pies do not survive long enough to dry out to be useful for a contest like this.
     As he continued thinking about it more he thought about the many ranchers he works with who graze herds of cows on lush grass pastures.  This would not be a good option to explore further because the pastures are irrigated regularly and the applied water aids with the breakdown of the cow pies, never allowing the droppings to completely dry out.
     District cooperators who run cows on pastureland also regularly clip pastures to promote uniform grazing heights and control weeds. Its good conservation and good pasture management. The ranchers also drag pastures with harrows to break up manure piles which helps spread the nutrients and maintains healthy pastures. These Best Management Practices (BMPs) are considered good conservation and ultimately benefits water quality too.
     After his first two choices were eliminated, the third option would be to direct the group to open rangeland, where cattle move around freely and distribute their droppings all over. Because rangelands are not irrigated or closely maintained the cow pies stay intact much longer.
The locations he thought of for Dee were close to where they were camping. In fact, he had seen many cows grazing at those locations during the last few months. The rangeland was on public land so there were less concerns about trespassing or the need to get permission to go collect cow chips.
     The group was advised to look for cattle guards so that they knew they were entering open range. They were also warned that there could be cows on the road as had been observed previously. The public lands are typically leased out for grazing purposes. The group was informed to look around water troughs and gates for a good supply of cow chips.
     Several days went by and a follow-up call was made to Dee to find out how their search went. The very happy and grateful Dee told him that she went to his suggested location and along with 3 other “collectors” gathered around 400 good quality cow pies in a very short amount of time! The 400+ cow chips were put into several large plastic garbage bags and loaded into the back of a pickup truck.
     After successfully “steering” (pun intended) the group to a good source for cow chip collection Stoltman just had to go to watch some of the cow chip throwing contest, which was to be held at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake, WA.
     There was a large group of participants and observers at the event. Contestants carefully selected an appropriate cow chip and tossed it onto an official-looking cow chip flinging course. Many of the female contestants put on latex gloves before handling the cow chips. Each throw was measured closely by volunteers and documented precisely. If a cow chip broke apart during a throw, or a landing, the officials measured the biggest piece that went the farthest. Bounces and rolls were legal and included in the final distance.
     A winning throw of 108’ was launched that afternoon. It was a wind-aided throw as the perfectly dried chip got up on its side and rolled with the wind. Most other throws averaged between 20’ and 50’.  Although it was a real competition everyone had a lot of laughs and there was a constant stream of jokes and comments during each throw.
     Before leaving Stoltman advised the group to discard the used cow chips in a conservation-friendly manner, because livestock nutrient management is one of the Conservation Districts main tasks. He showed the group where the fairgrounds livestock waste composting piles where located.
Dee, the organizer of the event, her husband, and several other participants and club members were all very appreciative for the help the Grant County Conservation District provided. Dee said that people always offer to help find chips for the competitions but have never followed through with their promises, until now.
     The Grant County Conservation District takes pride in being there to help and was happy to be part of this successful local activity.  Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?

District Supervisor Election    

     A poll-site election for a board seat on the Grant County Conservation District will be held on February 15, 2017 at 1107 S Juniper Drive, Moses Lake, WA 98837.  Polls will open at 8:30 AM and close at 12:30 PM.  Registered voters who reside within the Conservation District boundary are eligible to vote.  Candidates must be registered voters residing in the conservation district, and may be required to own land or operate a farm.  The candidate filing deadline is January 18, 2017 by 4:30 PM.  Election procedures are available at the district office.  Absentee ballots are available upon request for eligible voters, but must be requested on or before January 24, 2017 by 4:30 PM.  Please contact the District office at (509) 765-9618 or at the District office at 1107 S Juniper Street, Moses Lake, WA  98837 for absentee ballots or if you have any questions.  Conservation Districts of Washington State are governed by RCW 89.08.

District Supervisor Appointment

     A board seat on the Grant County Conservation District is available for appointment by the Washington State Conservation Commission.  Conservation district supervisors are public officials who serve without compensation and set policy and direction for the conservation district.  An applicant must be registered voter in Washington State, and may be required to own land or operate a farm.  Applicants for appointed positions do not have to live within the district to apply.  For more information, or to obtain an application form, please contact the Grant County Conservation District or visit the Conservation Commission website at  Applicants and supporting materials must be recieved by the Commission no later than March 31, 2017.

Copyright © 2014 The Conservation Connection, Grant County Conservation District, All rights reserved.
Phone: (509) 765-9618
1107 S. Juniper Dr., Moses Lake, WA 98837

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Grant County Conservation District · 1107 S Juniper Dr. · Moses Lake, WA 98837 · USA

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