Wednesday - Wow what a different a day makes.. 60 degrees this morning at 7:30 when we correctly departed the motel to go to the organic farm. WVa established this organic farm a number of years ago to help the local organic food industry in the state with some research. We have 5 soil pits in this area. We did the first one as a team and they were excellent scoring 95%, which is almost impossible. They next looked at a very channery pit next that had a C above the Cr. They struggled with the Bw horizon under the Ap, but then so did the official judges. Next at the footslope position was a perfect example of a Fragiudult. This soil has a fragipan, or cemented pan at 3 feet. This pan stops roots and water thus the bottom of the pit had water, so Nora used the barefoot technique to explore this area of soil. The team again did a great job scoring 91%. Looking at these soils again after three days of looking sure makes it easier for their descriptions. We have two sites left after lunch, which we came back to the motel for, as the sites are only 4 miles away. Before lunch I picked up some new hand towels for the contest tomorrow as our towels are getting pretty dirty. Lunch was a breakfast sandwich, yogart and canned peaches. I also cheated and got a Starbucks coffee.
Lunch is over and so is the passing thunderstorm. We head out to our final two sites. We work on our next to last to practice individual competition. The team still is having trouble with rock fragment determination in terms of percent. They estimate 60 when there is 30 and 20 when there is 80. Oh well, the official soil judges get to use the official taped area and we don’t, must be the difference. After this pit where they actually do pretty well, we move on to our last sight and I convince the team they can do this site without touching the soil, based on the fact that they have done 20 other soils that are similar. The horizons at this site are Ap, Bt, BCt, R. They do the whole sheet and get it mostly correct basing their decisions on their experience from the past 4 days of practice. Now hopefully tomorrow they will touch the soil. The individual team contestants are Blair, Katie, Melissa and Nora. Tom will be our alternate and not be able to judge the individual sites as alternates did an the regional. Too many teams here for the alternates to judge. He will get to participate on Friday in the Team event.
We arrived at the Banquet with all the other teams and entered the livestock pavilion. It had a fresh layer of woodchips on the floor so was not too smelly. After a while we got to go first through the line and found chicken, pulled pork, beef, 3 kinds of beans, potato salad and coleslaw with a blackberry cobbler for dessert. It was pretty good and did have something for the vegans, though we were not sure about the bean’s broth. After dinner the band played on and Jim our host introduced important people who helped with the contest. We soon headed home around 9:30 and did some review of our practice sites for an hour when the coache’s old eyes gave out and he declared it was time for his bed. Busy day of grading score cards lie ahead.