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Christy

As Wyoming’s primary elections draw closer, the signs promoting candidates continue to grow thicker in yards, on buildings and along the roads of the state. Being a new homeowner, I can say I’ve added to it, donating a corner of my yard to a gubernatorial effort.

Seven Republican candidates and five Democratic candidates have thrown their name in the hat, hoping to gain the title of Wyoming Governor in the 2010 elections. Along with that election, which tends to draw the most attention, the state will also select a new State Auditor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Secretary of State, positions for which a number of candidates are campaigning in earnest this summer. U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis also faces competition from a fellow Republican candidate and a Democratic candidate for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House of Representatives seat in Congress.

Here at the Roundup we contact each candidate during campaign season and try to do our best to present to you information through thorough interviews with each individual. We hope that when you go to the polls in August, and again in November, we’ve helped provide some idea of where the candidates stand on issues important to the agriculture industry in the state.

So far, as I’ve talked with the candidates, comments over the growth in the state’s budget consistently surface. Some view that as a concern, and growth in state government overall, while others, like the interview with gubernatorial candidate Rita Meyer included in this edition, view it as a blessing that the economic growth and high energy markets were used in a beneficial manner for many rural Wyoming communities. Whatever their opinion may be on the fiscal situation of the last few years, they hold in common the need for concern over and careful attention to the budget in the years going forward is critical.

So far, they also hold in common the need for Wyoming to stand its ground on state sovereignty, especially regarding issues such as wolf management by the state and illegal immigrants. 

Differences of opinion or agreements aside, I have been impressed by those candidates who take the time to interview with us and make their policy and positions known. Whether or not you agree with their positions, you can be sure every one who has appeared and will appear on these pages is campaigning in earnest for what they think will make the state better, and each of them is taking part in the process that ultimately makes the state successful and protects the Wyoming quality of life valued by all. 

On another note, another event brimming with healthy competition took place in Casper last week – the College National Finals Rodeo. I hope some of you got a chance to watch the students compete, and congratulations to the Gillette College women’s team, which, in its third year as a program, took first place. Also, Gillette College team member Jordan Thurston, a freshman from Lance Creek, took first place in goat tying. Her team member Chelsea Moore also claimed a close second in breakaway roping, only two-tenths of a second behind the lead. With several excellent up-and-coming team members, I’m sure we’ll see them again in Casper for the 2011 finals.

Christy

On Aug. 14 I spent Sunday afternoon at the Wyoming State Fair Ranch Rodeo Finals in Douglas, enjoying the friendly competition along with a grandstand full of ranch rodeo fans – and it was full, with over 1,000 people setting record attendance.

While 2011 marked the second year of a finals format for Wyoming’s qualified ranch rodeos, Aug. 14 also marked five years that I’ve worked for the Roundup, and, naturally, State Fair week always leaves me reminiscing about my very first week at the paper, which I spent mostly in Douglas, gathering images and articles for my new job as assistant editor.

Of my first Wyoming State Fair, I remember that it was hot, and Casper Mountain had just caught on fire as I was moving to Casper, and I wondered exactly what I’d gotten myself into. Thankfully, since then we’ve received more moisture in the state, and central Wyoming hasn’t experienced any more wildfires of that scale.

In keeping with Roundup tradition, that Wednesday of State Fair week in 2006 the Roundup, along with Encana Oil and Gas and Farm Credit, hosted the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame picnic, where I met many new people, and promptly forgot most of their names. Over the last five years it’s been rewarding to get to know more and more members of Wyoming’s ag community, and it’s great to get to catch up with you at events like the picnic.

One of our first big projects after I started with the Roundup was our annual Fall Cattlemen’s Edition, which featured a county for the first time in 2006, so I was able to take a trip to Sublette County to meet with many ranch families and take in the beautiful scenery that is western Wyoming in the fall. Since then I’ve traveled to just about every corner of the state, stepping foot at least once in each of its counties. Getting to meet Wyoming’s ag producers and sit with them at their kitchen tables has been the most rewarding, and I thank you for being so welcoming to the Roundup staff whenever we’re making our rounds.

The most challenging thing about working with the Roundup’s editorial is staying current on all the issues that affect or could potentially affect the Wyoming ag industry, but that’s something to which many of you are not strangers. We welcome tips from our readers about those things we might otherwise miss – give us a call or an email to fill us in.

These days we’re working on my tenth Cattlemen’s edition, which will feature Big Horn County this fall. Although they’re a big project, we’ve enjoyed our in-depth county profiles for our Fall and Winter Cattlemen’s editions, and we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy putting together the interviews, photos and articles.

As State Fair week continued this year, we again hosted our mid-week picnic, on which we still partner with Farm Credit and Encana. Fortunately, not only the tradition of the Ag Hall of Fame continued, but also beautiful weather on the summer evening. Congratulations to Niels Hansen and Harriet Hageman on joining their fellow distinguished members.

Over these last five years, you can bet that I’ve learned a lot, and hopefully have forgotten little. As I move into my sixth year with the paper, and wrap up my second as managing editor, I hope to continue to stay in touch and see you frequently around the state.

Christy

Here at the Roundup we consistently try to think of better ways to do business, or new things to add to the editorial aspect of the paper to better serve and inform our customers – you, our loyal readers.
    Occasionally when I’m attending events and doing interviews out in the country I receive compliments on the paper and it’s content, and they’re always much appreciated. Sometimes it seems like “no news is good news” when it comes to what we write from week to week, so feedback is always welcome. Of course we prefer to hear the positive, but we also take constructive criticism seriously.
     This week we’d like to introduce a new weekly feature for the month of June – young people in the ag industry.
    I’m sure many of you have heard about the efforts by many programs and organizations to lend support to young and beginning ag producers. As someone who fits in that definition myself, I know it’s a challenge. Even with the training and assistance that is being offered today, it still takes the right opportunity at the right time to actually make a go of getting a brand new ag operation up and running. It can be frustrating that, at a time when many are talking about getting more of the younger generation involved in agriculture, it can still seem like an impossible, unreachable goal. When you’re talking to a banker, experience, work ethic and training don’t matter – all it takes is money.
    For this new series in the paper, we’d like to find those who have found a great opportunity and have been able to take advantage of it. I have struggled to come up with a concise title for the series, like our “Women in Ag” weekly series in November, because I don’t want to limit its scope strictly to livestock “producers.” The idea behind the features is to highlight the innovative things that today’s young people are doing to utilize new technology and information while maintaining the integrity and traditions of the ag industry.
    This week’s feature, as you may have already read on the cover, highlights the King brothers from the Big Hole Valley in Montana, who took it upon themselves to produce a documentary on the wolf reintroduction in the West. Not only did they get the job done, but they’ve also already received many positive reviews and an award for the project. They were able to take their knowledge of film production and give a voice to those who have been so negatively affected by the predators.
    As we move through the month, we will bring you several other stories of young people and their ag industry endeavors. As always, we welcome article leads and ideas – there are so many excellent young people involved in Wyoming’s ag industry, and we only know of a few of them personally. Do you know of a young person who’s been able to get an ag business or operation going, either through more traditional avenues or through creative diversification? Please, call our office or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to let us know about them.
    Until next time, keep the feedback coming, and we’ll keep doing our best to bring you the best ag industry reporting that we can!
Christy

With themes ranging from “Barn in the USA” to “Dancing with the Steers,” county fair season is officially underway across the U.S., and will eventually give way to state fairs later this summer.
As I write this, the town of Casper is celebrating parade day in conjunction with the Central Wyoming Fair and Rodeo, the first county fair to be held in the state each summer.

After some research, I found that the first fair in North America was held in 1765 in Windsor, Nova Scotia, while a New England patriot and farmer, Elkana Watson, earned the title of “Father of U.S. Agricultural Fairs” after organizing the Berkshire Agricultural Society and creating an event, known as the Cattle Show, in Pittsfield, Mass. in September 1811. The livestock exposition was also a competition, with $70 paid for the best oxen, cattle, swine and sheep.

After that first fair, Watson worked with other communities to organize their own agricultural societies and their respective shows, or fairs. By 1819, it’s said that most counties in New England had their own societies and fairs, and the movement was spreading to other states. By the end of the 19th Century, almost every state and province had one or more ag fairs or exhibitions.

Today over 3,200 fairs are held in North America annually, and I think it’s safe to say that if you were to walk onto the grounds of many of them, you’d find the same elements – livestock barns containing cattle, hogs and sheep, exhibit halls filled with home-grown produce and homemade products and many 4-H and FFA kids working hard to put the finishing touches on their projects.

Many fairs boast exhibits like none other. I grew up attending the Iowa State Fair, and a “must-see” each year is the butter cow, which is just that – a dairy cow sculpted from butter. Just run a Google image search, and you’ll see for yourself.

Unfortunately, this summer the butter cow will be missing its creator of over 50 years, as sculptor Norma Lyon passed away this year at the age of 81. She sculpted her first 600-pound cow for the Iowa State Fair in 1959 while pregnant with her seventh child. The Iowa State Fair has featured a butter cow every year since 1911 as a promotion for the state’s dairy products.

I had the opportunity to meet Norma while in college, on a field trip with a dairy judging course. After we reviewed several pens of Jersey dairy cows, she brought us warm, homemade cookies in the old milking parlor, and we washed them down with fresh Jersey milk, and I still remember that’s the sweetest, smoothest milk I’ve ever tasted.

So, whether you encounter a cow made entirely of butter or something else at Wyoming’s county fairs or the Wyoming State Fair this year, be sure to get out and support your local agriculture industry and the youth who are becoming involved – after all, that’s been the whole point of county, regional and state fairs ever since Elkana Watson first created his event 200 years ago.

In the pages of the Roundup we’re in the midst of our “Summer County Fair Series,” which features information about the ongoing county fairs and their schedules, as well as articles on notable kids and their projects from around the state. Stay tuned for more coverage of fair season in the Cowboy State!

Christy

As October turned to November, and Thanksgiving approaches, some of us have already turned our thoughts toward Christmastime, especially those of us who love the holiday season.

When thinking of Christmas, many of us have favorite sights, sounds and activities, whether they be stringing Christmas lights, searching for a tree, covering kitchen counters with cookies, wrapping colorful gift packages for the people in our lives or attending a Christmas Eve service.

For me, I think I would have to say it’s all of the above, and more. Our new family has grown from two to three with the addition of our baby boy earlier this fall, and he’ll be four months old at Christmas. My husband Scott and I are looking forward to starting our own family traditions, and I’m sure that some of them will be carry-overs from my own family’s traditions.

One of those traditions is the hot wassail recipe my mom makes every year for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – we’ve had that one for as long as I can remember. I’m not even sure where her recipe came from, but it’s one of those that’s cut from a magazine page and glued to a faded, dog-eared index card. Another component of that tradition was the old silver percolator with the cloth cord that she always used to make it. Unfortunately, that percolator bit the dust earlier this year, but, fortunately, I found a similar one second-hand so the tradition can live on.

Another Hemken tradition has been to get the biggest, tallest Christmas tree our house could possible hold. You can imagine my shock when, last Christmas, I returned home to Iowa to find the 2010 version was a mere five feet tall! Scott compares the tree I picked out for our house last year to the White House Christmas tree, but I absolutely loved it! I’m looking forward to seeing baby Levi’s reaction to the twinkling Christmas lights and shiny ornaments on this year’s tree – at least this December he won’t yet be old enough to get into them.

For as long as I can remember my family has attended and participated in Christmas Eve services. There’s something about all the hustle and bustle that comes before the holiday, and the chance to be still and enjoy Christmas carols and candlelight, coming back to the little baby and the reason for the whole celebration in the first place.

We here at the Roundup want to know what you love about Christmas, whether it is a specific activity or a treasured memory of a Christmas past. This year we’re holding a writing/photo contest for the cover of our Christmas paper, which will be the Dec. 24 edition.

To participate, submit a story, poem or other work of writing, accompanied by an original photo, painting or sketch. Deadline for submissions is Dec. 16. Send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to PO Box 850, Casper, WY 82602.

The Roundup team will select a winner to be featured on the Christmas edition’s cover, while the runners-up will be featured in excerpt within the edition and all entries will be posted at wylr.net.

Happy writing, and we look forward to reading your stories and enjoying your photos and artwork!

Christy