OTTUMWA – Nearly 90 vendors awaited visitors to this weekend’s Cow-Calf Conference and KIIC Farm Show at Bridge View Center, supplemented by speakers discussing cow depreciation, genetic and genomic evaluations and farm succession planning.

At the Chariton Valley Electric Coop, Inc. booth, Charles Van De Pol showed farmers and children how to stay safe around electricity. Using a diorama of a farm, its electrical lines, transformers, and models of people and animals, Van De Pol demonstrated various ways that electrical arcs can be created to injure or kill.

The demonstration is one that Chariton Valley Electric presents at schools when possible. “I’ve got into nine schools this year,” Van De Pol said as he visited with Dan Allred of NuTech Seed Saturday. “We get into as many as we can.”

Matt Wettstein of Bloomfield was happy to have Van De Pol show his 3-year-old, Jonah, the dangers of electricity so the child would have a healthy fear of it and learn to be safe.

Van De Pol enjoys teaching students how to be safe around electricity. “It’s fun. That’s why I do it.”

In another area of the expo hall, former Chariton resident Kirk Stiverwalt drew a crowd for a demonstration of clipping and fitting sponsored by Centerville Produce.

Stiverwalt currently lives in Oklahoma, about halfway between Oklahoma City and Amarillo, Texas, he said. “We haven’t had rain in 120 days,” said Steirwalt. “Anybody that’s in ag is weather conscience.”

Steirwalt’s demonstration was geared to young farmers and 4-H exhibitors.

“Lucas County Fair was probably my first show,” said Steirwalt. He remembered clippers and methods from that era which many members of his audience also remembered.

“I want to get into the new updates, the new stuff that’s going out,” Steirwalt said. “Things have changed a lot.” Clippers became smaller, more convenient for women and children. They’re also better for detailing, he said.

“We’re going to focus on the shoulders and the neck,” said Steirwalt. “Then I want to go through daily care.” Different feeds and supplements “make the calf look like we want it to.”

Stiverwalt walked his audience through the technique of clipping with their fingers. “If you’re clipping with your hands, you’re clipping wrong.” The fingers allow more finesse and less pressure on the animal, he said.

Other sessions at Saturday’s conference included meeting Iowa’s new secretary of Agriculture, understanding the new tax reform bill’s effects on farming operations, camera systems for calving brans and farms and management intensive grazing.

Reporter Winona Whitaker can be contacted at and followed on Twitter @courierwinona.


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