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45th annual Great Oregon Steam-Up chugs into town

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

BROOKS, Ore. — The 45th Annual Great Oregon Steam-Up will take over Antique Powerland for the next two weekends, putting a spotlight on yesteryear’s finest mechanical marvels.

“You walk in, and pretty much the first thing you see is a tractor. And then the second thing you see is a tractor as well.”

That’s Pamela Vorachek speaking, the executive director of the Steam-Up.

She said the two-weekend festival is an amalgamation of three Ts: Trains, trolleys and, you guessed it, tractors.

At the Steam-Up, you can stroll past the ticket counter of a restored 1920s-era Southern Pacific depot and take a ride on a vintage trolley; watch chaff and wood chips fly as professionals operate a steam-powered sawmill and thresher; or even duck for cover as a World War II tank fires (blanks) to start each day’s tractor parade.

This year’s featured tractor — and there are about 40 of them — is the Minneapolis Moline.

Marketed as a “comfort tractor,” the Moline was the first of its kind to offer operators a fully-enclosed cab. Advertisements from the period promised farmers they could plow their fields, then drive it to church, according to Vorachek.

Before that, “by the time you got done plowing a field, well you took a bath, and you left as much mud in that bathtub as dirt was out in the field,” show manager Evan Burroughs said.

Back then, a thresher was an infernal, steam-powered contraption that sat in one place and cost a small fortune to own — maybe $5,000. Instead of a single combine practically flying over fields, 20 or 30 men might share the work, piling their crops to a single mound in front of the roving contractor’s thresher.

When you were ready to move the thresher, you needed a team of mules.

The job was dirty, hot, messy and loud, according to Burroughs.

“Take a modern combine, strip out the mobility components, and the guts of the thing are virtually the same as the 1880 to 1920s threshing machine,” Burroughs explained. “The technology changes, but it’s nice to know if everything goes gunny bag with the computer, we can back up a step and do it mechanically.”

The Steam-Up is hosted on the grounds of Antique Powerland, a 62-acre park in Brooks, Ore., that features 12 permanent mechanical and agricultural museums.

The event offers plenty of food. The Knights of Columbus will sell sesame garlic chicken and mashed potatoes, while the Kiwanis will serve burgers. Other fare includes German sausage, pie, Reuben sandwiches, root beer floats and biscuits and gravy.

Fan-favorite featured artist Wayne Richards and Southern Nights will also return for another year.

45th Annual Great Oregon Steam-Up

When: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 25 and 26, and Aug. 1 and 2

Tickets: Adult tickets are $12, $20 for a weekend pass or $30 for a one-day family pass. All children under 12 are admitted free; Oregon National Guard members and their families are admitted free with valid military ID on the second weekend.

Website: http://www.antiquepowerland.com/html/steam-up.html

Diamond Foods opens its new innovation center

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SALEM — The science of snacking was the subject as Diamond Foods Inc. dedicated its new corporate innovation center at the company’s Kettle potato chip plant in Salem.

The 7,000-square-foot product-testing and research-and-development laboratory is the company’s first formal brand development facility. The center, which employs 18 people, will also work on new products for the company’s other lines of snacks, nuts and popcorn.

In addition to food scientists and sensory specialists, marketing, packaging and regulatory experts will work there.

Innovation was the buzzword as Oregon Gov. Kate Brown delivered a brief speech at a July 15 ceremony, praising Diamond’s commitment to the state.

“...In this state, we make things. Innovative, useful, marketable — and in this case, delicious — things,” she said.

In the consumer polling area of the innovation center, the governor issued a ringing endorsement of the company’s Emerald Nuts brand raspberry-glazed almonds — “Can we eat the rest of them?” she asked — before donning a hair net and touring the center’s prototype kitchen.

In the “nosh pitch,” a creatively named conference room, employees exhibited the peppers and kimchi that became the inspiration for Kettle’s new pepperoncini-favored chips.

“We don’t adulterate the base (potato chip). Everything you taste is from the seasoning that we put on after,” food scientist Rebecca Andersen said.

Andersen said the company tests about 10 different flavors — including such candidates as churro and strawberry cream — for every successful flavor that makes it to market.

Closing out the tour, the governor pondered the regional differences in tastes.

“My family members tend to like — I will describe it as blander things. Midwest foods,” she said.

Diamond Foods, which acquired microwave popcorn brand Pop Secret in 2008, became a publicly traded company in 2005. Its other lines include Emerald brand snack nuts and Diamond of California culinary nuts.

Due to drought, Oregon curtails fishing for some species

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials have prohibited fishing or curtailed fishing hours on most rivers in the state to avoid additional stress on wild fish suffering from drought-related high water temperatures and low stream flows.

The state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife says angling for trout, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon will be prohibited at all times in the Willamette River downstream of Willamette Falls, on a section of the Clackamas River and several sections of the John Day River.

Officials said those rivers with a complete ban have the highest temperatures, the lowest flows, and have already experienced fish die-offs. The Willamette River saw scores of dead salmon in June. And earlier this month, state biologists examined about 50 dead sockeye salmon in the mouth of the Deschutes River.

And fishing won’t be allowed on most rivers from 2 p.m. to one hour before sunrise, during the hottest part of the day when temperatures are at the highest levels. The closures and restrictions are effective Saturday, until further notice.

“We have extremely low water levels in all these streams, not a good snow back, not a lot of rain,” said Mike Gauvin, ODFW’s recreation fisheries manager. “We’re trying to do whatever we can to protect our native fish.”

Fishing hours will remain unchanged at a few spots, such as on sections of the Wallowa, Malheur and Klamath rivers, which are less prone to high water temperatures.

Officials said fishing for warm water species, such as bass and walleye, isn’t affected by closures, nor is lake and reservoir fishing or ocean fishing. And, they said, most of the rivers are still open in the morning, when fishing is best.

Officials will also discuss curtailment of recreational catch-and-release sturgeon fishing upstream of Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

In addition to fishing restrictions, the state’s trout stocking schedules and locations have been adjusted and some hatchery fish have been released early as a result of high water temperatures.

A survey released earlier this month of the lower reaches of 54 rivers in Oregon, California and Washington by the conservation group Wild Fish Conservancy showed nearly three-quarters had temperatures higher than 70 degrees, considered potentially deadly for salmon and trout.

Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Association said her group understands and supports the restrictions. But, she said, when temperatures get too warm, fish go off the bite, and anglers quit fishing anyway. And fishing restrictions, she said, won’t fix the high temperatures in the rivers.

“This is more of a well-meaning gesture,” said Hamilton. “But if a few fish are saved, that’s a good thing.”

The hope, Hamilton said, is that the drought will spur deeper changes that can help fish, such as improving riparian cover, reviewing how reservoir levels are managed during years of low snow packs, or even adding temperature regulating towers at dams.

Oregon timber harvest again tops 4 billion board feet

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon’s timber harvest decreased slightly last year, ending a four-year run of gains that began after the Great Recession, the state Department of Forestry said Wednesday.

The 4.13 billion board feet harvested in 2014 represents a 1.7 percent decline from the year before. It was, however, the second consecutive year of more than 4 billion board feet, a total Oregon had not seen since 2006.

The state hit a recession low of 2.7 billion board feet in 2009. It takes 10,000 board feet to build a roughly 1,800-square-foot house.

The Forestry Department said in its annual harvest report it doesn’t expect a big change in 2015. Brandon Kaetzel, a top economist at the department, said several issues will likely keep the harvest from rising, including reduced port access, a challenging export market and housing starts not reaching the levels some expected.

Sixty percent of Oregon’s forest land is federal. Industrial and family owned lands comprise another 34 percent and the rest is divided between entities such as the state, counties and tribes.

Percentage-wise, the largest harvest spikes in 2014 were on U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands west of the Cascades, boosted by salvage logging from the Douglas Complex fire, and on U.S. Forest Service lands east of the Cascades.

The private industry harvest declined 5 percent, the report states, and the harvest on Native American forestland dropped 14 percent — from 66 million board feet to 57 million board feet.

Douglas County, in the southwestern part of the state, replaced neighboring Lane County as the state’s top producer in timber volume. Both topped more than 600 million board feet.

Klamath County harvested the most timber east of the Cascade Range, with 103 million board feet.

Though Oregon’s harvest has increased since the recession, it’s far less than what it was before environmental issues such as the spotted owl prompted sharp cutbacks in logging on federal lands

Oregon’s largest timber harvest was 9.74 billion board feet in 1972. It has not exceeded 5 billion since 1993.

Scientists in Oregon develop bacon-flavored seaweed

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — What grows quickly, is packed with protein, has twice the nutritional value of kale and tastes like bacon?

The answer, according to scientists at Oregon State University, is a new strain of seaweed they recently patented.

Dulse is a form of edible seaweed that grows wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It’s harvested and commonly used by people in dried form as a cooking ingredient or nutritional supplement.

But OSU researchers say the variety they’ve developed can be farmed and eaten fresh, with the potential for a new industry for Oregon.

Scientists have been trying to develop a new strain of the seaweed for more than 15 years. Their original goal was to create a super food for commercially grown abalone, a mollusk prized in Asia.

The strain of dulse they came up with, which looks like translucent red lettuce, is a great source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, not to mention protein. The abalone grew exceedingly quickly when fed the dulse and an abalone operation in Hawaii is now using the seaweed on a commercial scale.

But after a product development team at OSU’s Food Innovation Center created new foods with the dulse, researchers began to think humans might benefit a lot more.

Among the most promising foods created were a dulse-based rice cracker and salad dressing. And bacon-tasting strips, which are fried like regular bacon to bring out the flavor.

The research team received a grant from the Oregon Department of Agriculture to explore dulse as a “specialty crop” — the first time seaweed had made the list, officials said. The team brought on a culinary research chef to further refine recipes and products.

Several Portland-area chefs are now testing the sea “vegetable” in its raw or cooked form. And MBA students at OSU are preparing a marketing plan for a new line of dulse-based specialty foods and exploring the potential for a new aquaculture industry.

There are no commercial operations that grow dulse for human consumption in the U.S. and chefs say fresh, high-quality seaweed is hard to come by.

“The dulse grows using a water recirculation system,” said OSU researcher Chris Langdon, who developed the strain. “Theoretically, you could create an industry in eastern Oregon almost as easily as you could along the coast with a bit of supplementation. You just need a modest amount of seawater and some sunshine.”

Local GMO control initiative faces setback

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

A proposed ballot initiative to overturn statewide pre-emption laws for biotech crops and pesticides in Oregon has been dealt a legal setback.

Under the “Right to Local, Community Self-Government” initiative, counties and cities would be immune from Oregon’s pre-emption statutes, allowing them to regulate issues currently under the state’s sole jurisdiction.

Proponents have gathered more than 1,000 signatures in favor of the initiative, which was enough to begin the ballot title drafting process for the 2016 general election.

However, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office recently rejected the initiative for making overly broad revisions to the Oregon Constitution.

Specifically, the initiative would “effectuate fundamental constitutional changes to the structure and division of powers of state and local governments” and alter the power of the legislative and executive branches, according to state attorneys. Such a sweeping “revision” can’t be accomplished with a ballot initiative, they said.

A revision of the Oregon Constitution must instead be approved by two-thirds of both legislative chambers before a referral to voters, said Paul Diller, a law professor at Willamette University.

The initiative was also rejected for making multiple changes to the Oregon Constitution that weren’t closely related.

Proponents now have the choice of challenging those findings in court or attempting to write a new initiative that overcomes the hurdles identified by the state’s attorneys.

Mary Geddry, a chief petitioner for the initiative, said that proponents haven’t yet decided on a course of action but disagree with the government’s conclusions.

“It does not mean everybody is just going to roll over,” she said. “We believe it’s a worthy cause and we’ll try to get it done one way or another.”

Apart from genetically modified organisms and pesticides, the initiative would allow local governments to regulate “fracking” in oil and gas developments, coal exports and other activities that affect air and water quality, Geddry said.

“We’re talking about fundamental rights,” she said. “Communities don’t have the right to say ‘no’ under the current system.”

Oregonians for Food and Shelter, an agribusiness group, worries that the ballot initiative would preclude any statewide regulations, resulting in a patchwork of rules from county to county, said Scott Dahlman, its policy director.

“Anything that keeps it off the ballot, we are excited to see,” he said.

The Secretary of State’s determination is a “substantial” reversal for initiative proponents, since they now face the prospect of a legal battle or an overhaul of their proposal, Dahlman said.

“Either way, they’ve got a significant process ahead of them,” he said.

Revising the initiative to pass constitutional muster would be very difficult, Dahlman said. “It looks like a pretty fatal blow to this effort.”

Diller of Willamette University said there’s little case law dealing with how far-reaching constitutional changes must be to qualify as a “revision,” so the proponents face an uncertain legal landscape.

“It’s a bit of an open question whether they might achieve success by appealing this decision to the courts,” he said.

Even if proponents do ultimately obtain approval to circulate their petition for signatures, the initiative still faces a steep obstacle to getting on the ballot.

Constitutional measures such as this initiative must receive more than 117,500 valid signatures, about one-third more than initiatives that alter Oregon statutes.

Wandering wolf unlikely to return to Malheur County

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

ADRIAN, Ore. — A wandering wolf that hung out in Malheur County for more than five weeks has apparently found a new home and is unlikely to return.

“I would be absolutely, drop-dead surprised if” he returned to the county, said Greg Rimbach, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s acting assistant wolf program manager.

Malheur is Oregon’s largest cattle-producing county and ranchers here were happy to hear the lone wolf was gone.

The male wolf, known as OR22 by Oregon wolf biologists, has spent the last three weeks hanging out in forest area northeast of the city of John Day, Rimbach said.

“It’s just kind of hanging out there by itself,” he said. “It’s found something it likes.”

OR22 is a castoff from a Northwest Oregon pack that began “wandering around in a dispersing pattern” after separating from the Umatilla River Pack around Feb. 13, according to Philip Milburn, a district wildlife biologist in the ODFW’s Ontario office.

The wolf, which has a tracking collar, entered Malheur County April 10 and hung out mostly in sagebrush country south of Vale and west of Adrian, an area that is not considered suitable habitat for wolves.

During its stay, OR22 made a brief foray into farm country and was seen napping in a wheat field by several farmers and even swimming across a canal by ditch workers.

Before OR22’s stay here, no other wolf was known to have been in the county for more than a brief period, Milburn said.

Once wolf biologists discovered and removed two cow carcasses the wolf had been feeding off of, it left the county in mid-May and started heading toward John Day country, Rimbach said.

Wolf biologists said the cows were dead before OR22 found them.

One of the big lessons biologists and cattlemen learned during OR22’s stay in Malheur County is to ensure that cow carcasses are removed quickly, Rimbach said.

“The only reason he stayed in Malheur County was because he had a free meal,” he said. Once the carcasses were removed, “it only took a few days before he was moving on.”

Cranberry growers renew marketing order

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

U.S. cranberry growers, faced with a huge surplus that’s pushing down prices, have renewed their crop’s federal marketing program, though Canadian competitors and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving raisins makes volume controls appear unlikely.

Some 76 percent of 470 growers in 10 states, including Washington and Oregon, recently voted to renew the Cranberry Marketing Committee for another four years. The vote total was similar to the 2011 referendum.

The committee, established in 1962, is rooted in the same 1937 New Deal law that was successfully challenged by California raisin farmer Marvin Horne, who argued that being forced to surrender part of his crop to boost raisin prices was an unconstitutional taking of private property. The high court ruled 8-1 in June in his favor.

The cranberry committee sought a 15 percent reduction in the 2014 harvest after prices tumbled the year before. The U.S. Department of Agriculture denied the petition, citing possible collusion with Canadian growers to reduce supplies against the public’s interest.

The committee decided last spring to not renew the request for 2015, even though the industry expects to begin the fall harvest with 86 percent of the 2014 cranberry crop still unused.

The cranberry industry boasts some gains in increasing demand, but the new sales have been more than erased by higher production.

Cranberry supplies have been swelled by rising U.S. yields, especially in Wisconsin, plus Canada’s emergence as a large cranberry producer.

The cranberry committee’s outgoing director, Scott Soares, wrote in a farewell message in May that the global cranberry industry’s growth made U.S. volume controls less effective. The USDA last authorized cranberry volume controls in 2001.

Long Beach, Wash., cranberry grower Malcolm McPhail said losing volume control as a tool to reduce surpluses would be unfortunate.

“You get rid of the surplus and then you can get living again,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen again.”

The surplus caused the price farmers received to drop from an average of $47.90 per 100-pound barrel in 2012 to $31.10 in 2014, according to the USDA’s preliminary report on last year’s crop. The USDA is scheduled to issue a final report Friday.

Prices varied widely among farmers.

In Washington, where most farmers belong to the Ocean Spray cooperative or sell to the fresh fruit market, the average price was $43.50 a barrel.

In Oregon, which has more independent growers selling to processors, the average price was $27.50.

Bandon, Oregon, farmer Bob Donaldson, who grows for Ocean Spray and independent markets, said some berries are being sold for less than the cost of production. He said a small percentage of acres are not being cultivated this year. Returning the bogs to production would require expensive restoration of vines, he said.

“You hate to see your friends and neighbors give up,” Donaldson said. “I love growing cranberries, so I have to be an optimist and tell myself I’m going to stick with it, but it’s hard to see it coming back anytime soon.”

Donaldson and McPhail said they were happy the cranberry committee was reauthorized. The Massachusetts-based committee, funded by grower assessments, supports cranberry research and promotions.

Donaldson said farmers will have to hope new cranberry-based products catch on in the U.S. and overseas sales increase to whittle down the oversupply.

“That is our way out of this,” he said.

Onion assessment cut in half for Oregon, Idaho growers

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

NYSSA, Ore. — The assessment fee for onions grown in Eastern Oregon and Southwestern Idaho has been cut in half.

Onion growers in the area are under a federal marketing order and were being assessed 10 cents for each 100 pounds of onions they produced.

That assessment has been trimmed to 5 cents by the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee, which administers the marketing order. The new rate became effective July 1. The assessment cut will save the average grower about $30 an acre, said Grant Kitamura, chairman of the IEOOC’s promotion committee, which recommended the assessment cut.

“It’s definitely going to save us some money,” said Oregon farmer Bruce Corn. “Every little bit helps.”

About 20,000 acres of big bulb onions are grown on both sides of the border in the Treasure Valley and the assessment generates a little more than $900,000 a year.

The IEOOC’s research and export budgets will not be impacted by the assessment cut but the majority of the reduced revenue will come out of the committee’s promotions budget, which will be slashed from $635,000 a year to $250,000, Kitamura said.

Promotion committee member Paul Skeen, a Nyssa, Ore., farmer, said a lot of people thought the money spent on promotions wasn’t being used as effectively as it could.

“There were people who felt like we weren’t getting the right bang for our buck,” he said.

Kitamura said there would be a major reduction in travel and local promotions, but the committee will continue to maintain a major presence at industry trade shows and in the media.

Gone will be the feel-good type of promotions, particularly those aimed locally, he said.

“Those are effective at promoting good will but they’re not really effective for moving product,” he said. “We’re trying to get lean and mean.”

Many of the area’s 30 onion shippers preferred to have the assessment cut and do their own promotions, Kitamura said.

There has been a lot of consolidation among the onion industry’s main customers — large national retail companies — and those shippers feel it makes more sense for them to promote themselves directly to those customers, he said.

“The most effective marketing is direct,” Kitamura said. “Many shippers want to do their own promotion in this environment. We were doing business like we were 25 years ago (and) people felt it was time for a change.”

Kitamura, general manager of Murakami Produce in Ontario, said about 90 percent of growers and shippers in the area supported the cut.

Shay Myers, general manager of Owyhee Produce, a major onion shipper in Nyssa, said he would have preferred to keep the assessment as is and completely revamp the way the promotions budget is handled.

“I felt it could be managed more effectively,” he said.

He’s also concerned that having all the shippers in the area do their own promoting and marketing could fragment the industry.

“That’s the Catch-22,” he said. “I’m concerned with the change.”

USDA official: Women farmers have credibility

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

SILVERTON, Ore. — Since women make most food-buying decisions for U.S. families, female farmers can establish strong credibility with those key consumers, according to a top USDA official.

“Women relate to women,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. “Women do have a special role.”

Female farmers operate in a largely male-dominated world, which prompted Harden to launch a “Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network” to help them connect with role models who experience similar hurdles.

During a roundtable forum on July 13 in Silverton, Ore., Harden said she was heartened by the 20 percent of principal farm operators in Oregon who are female.

Women farmers who served on the panel said they didn’t feel like they faced higher barriers to success in agriculture, which Harden said was unique in her experience traveling across the U.S.

“This room would not be full everywhere. You’re really lucky here,” Harden told the group of women gathered at the Oregon Garden Resort.

Once a female demonstrates she knows what she’s talking about, there’s usually no impediment to gaining “traction” in agriculture, said Molly Pearmine-McCargar, a Gervais, Ore., grower who spoke on the panel. “Once you get respect and credibility with your audience, it’s not a problem,” she said.

The panel participants said that Oregon farmers generally face similar challenges whether they’re male or female.

Shelly Boshart-Davis, whose family operates a farm and trucking business, said that the state and federal governments need to take steps to improve transportation for agriculture.

For example, the Port of Portland lost two major container ocean carriers this year, which has complicated life for farmers who rely on exports, she said.

If companies avoid importing goods along the West Coast due to labor concerns, there will be fewer empty containers available for agricultural exporters, Boshart-Davis said.

Amy Doerfler-Phelan, whose family farms multiple crops in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, said she’s concerned about the lack of economic development in the eastern and southern portions of Oregon that are less populated.

“We need to have opportunities in other part of our state,” she said.

Pearmine-McCargar said that insufficent labor and the need to mechanize harvest are top priorities, while Barbara Boyer, who farms near McMinnville, Ore., said she is concerned about farm succession.

Aspiring young growers often face the prospect of paying back student loans on top of the other financial burdens of running a farm, Boyer said.

The federal government should examine forgiving student debt for farmers as it does for certain other professions with social value, she said.

“It takes legislation, but it’s a great idea,” responded Harden.

Young rancher sets her sights high

Capital Press Agriculture News Oregon -

CHRISTMAS VALLEY, Ore. — Mariam Horton has not only learned in the classroom over the past several years, but also on her family’s ranch.

She’s earned her education and degree at North Lake High School, but has managed her time well enough to also educate herself on the animal science of sheep and cattle. The 2015 North Lake graduate has expanded her livestock numbers from three Suffolk ewes when she was a fourth-grader to about 380 ewes and ewe lambs, and from two bred black Angus heifers when she was an eighth-grader to 35 registered Angus mother cows.

The 17-year-old and her father, LeeRoy Horton, are partners in the livestock operation.

Although Mariam Horton has already established quite a flock of Suffolk, Targhee and Rambouillet sheep and a herd of cows at such a young age, she has bigger dreams.

“I have big goals, definitely,” she said. “After college I hope to buy a ranch and have lots of animals, hopefully here in Oregon. I plan to get up to 500 to 1,000 Angus cows.

“And I want to be able to win one of the national shows,” she added.

Horton is off to a good start on all of her goals. In January, she attended her second National Western Stock Show in Denver and showed five heifers in the junior competition (for producers age 21 and younger). One heifer took first in its Early Summer Heifer Division (animals born during the previous months of May, June or July). She then showed the heifer in the Open Division that included entries from producers of all ages and the pair finished second in the judging.

Chad Waldron, the ag science teacher and FFA advisor at North Lake High School for the past 20 years, said he has not had a previous student own and manage as many sheep and cattle as does Horton.

“What she is doing is very unique for a student,” he said. “But she is very responsible, very motivated. She also gets a tremendous amount of support and encouragement from her parents. She does have a love for agriculture that motivates and drives her.”

LeeRoy Horton is a hay grower, and now a livestock partner, on the family’s Christmas Valley ranch.

“I’m an animal person myself,” LeeRoy Horton said. “Mariam is just kind of following right in behind me. We work real close together on everything.”

The daughter called her father her inspiration.

“He knows a lot and I try to listen to everything he has to say,” she said. “I look up to him a lot.”

LeeRoy managed and owned sheep flocks in the Willamette Valley and in Idaho in his younger years before moving to Christmas Valley in 1992 and concentrating on hay production.

Mariam Horton most enjoys the lambing and calving. And she doesn’t mind helping during the birthing process when needed. She first helped pull a lamb from a ewe at age 10 and has become the go-to person when an animal is having trouble giving birth.

The fun of showing her ewes and lambs at county and state fairs and jackpot events led Horton to want to have more opportunities to show animals. So she purchased the two Angus heifers. They had their calves, one a heifer and one a bull. She kept the heifer calf and eventually had her bred. The bull calf was sold at auction. It looked impressive, helping her establish a market and she’s had no trouble selling her bull calves since.

Horton also attended a weekend class at Oregon State University in Corvallis and learned how to artificially inseminate cows. She’s been involved in that process with her Angus cows for a few years.

At North Lake, Horton’s experiences in the FFA program helped her gain confidence in addition to knowledge in marketing and selling her animals. She’s been a two-year chapter president for North Lake FFA and a two-year district FFA secretary for Central Oregon. She considered running for a state office, but then decided not to because it would have meant time away from her animals.

She will attend Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, this fall. She plans to major in animal science and is eager to study sustainable agriculture so she can apply it in managing her own animals.

LeeRoy Horton will manage the cattle and sheep while his daughter is at school. And when she finishes her college career, she intends to return to Oregon to make ranching a full-time profession.


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