RiverFerry

During the first day of the KHSI Expo, we toured three different facilities. There were maybe fifty people attending the tours, so we all shared rides. I jumped in with a nice fellow named Chuck, who chauffeured me and three other people through the day’s tours. Chuck had a GPS system, and I was comparing its instructions to the printed driving directions we were given. On our way to one of the tours, the GPS started taking us in a completely different route than what the paper directions said. We had a moment of indecision, then unanimously agreed to rely on the technology to get us there. But, I was momentarily distressed to hear Ms. GPS Voice say “turn right and board ferry.” Ferry!?!

Yikes- of course, my Washington-State-upbringing vision of a ferry is a large iron behemoth that carries several hundred cars for a half hour, destined for an island! My mind immediately thought “nooo, that can’t be right!” But Chuck (from California) didn’t bat an eyelash, and here is the ferry we found- a tiny, 4-car job that forded a small river, held firm by an overhead cable, for a $2 fare. How quaint!

Don’t laugh at me, but I’d never seen a ferry like this before, except in drawings from River Town Snohomish in 1800’s! 🙂 I thought these had all long-since been replaced by modern bridges. So, I had to take a photo to capture my moment of out-of-state learning! 🙂 I guess I still need to get out and see the world more!

And the moral of the story is that Ms. GPS was right, and the printed directions were wrong, so we got to the next tour much quicker than everyone else. The rest of the people, even the Oregon natives, got lost and were late! 😉

Our third tour of the day was the Oregon State University Sheep Research Unit. I forgot to take photos there, but there wasn’t anything extraordinary to image: the standard sheep, pastures, barn and shearing facilities you’d expect to see. They discussed a little about the different research projects OSU is doing on sheep: leveraging turnips and other Brassica family plants as sheep forage, endophyte affect on grazing livestock, intensive grazing and pasture rotation, and selenium as it relates to sheep health and breeding performance. They currently have a flock of hair sheep crossbreds (also more Dorper products) that they use for research.

They also maintain a flock of sheep that were purposely chosen because they had foot rot, and it was left untreated; with the intention of seeing whether high levels of selenium had any impact on improving  their foot health, as compared to a control group that did not start out with foot rot. Stay tuned for their published results; but it sounds like the answer may be yes: that selenium does play a factor in resistance to foot rot. And, they may have noticed anecdotally that the high selenium had other benefits as well, such as more vigorous lambs. In the northwest, our soils are generally deficient in selenium, so this is important research for us.

Oregon state has a high interest in sheep because there are still a lot of sheep ranchers there. It’s apparently a side affect of the grass seed production industry, which utilizes sheep herds to keep their grass crops maintained over the winter months. So, discussion during the day ranged from direct-marketing lamb to consumers, and what they want, as compared to what commercial meat packers demand in lambs that they buy en masse. Interesting differences of opinion!

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