The second fair we participated in this summer was in Livingston County. This fair was the morning after the Mayfield show, so we were a bit tired! There was some debate as to whether or not we would be able to attend this fair because I am new to driving the stock trailer and the fairgrounds are over a teeny tiny rickety bridge. I was hoping Jeremie would take the girls, but it’s not really his thing. Who can blame him? It does get a little tiring to sit out at a livestock barn for hours upon hours. But the girls and I love it, so I closed my eyes and drove over the bridge, Ha! Just kidding! But I did make it over the bridge safely. All the while telling the girls that now they knew how much I loved them. All three of my lamb exhibitors won champion showmanship! Mia and Katie won first in their market weight class and Reserve Grand Champion. Charlotte won second in her market class. Mia received a lot of encouragement at the show! Many people came up and complimented her on her showmanship skills. This is her first year with a goat, so she needed a little encouragment! And Katie was glad the judge liked her lamb so much. He needs a few groceries but should be right on target for Grand Champion for our county fair!
As soon as we returned from Northern Illinois, it was time to pack up the crew to head to the other side of our state! The 4h State Livestock competition was being held in Knoxville, so we all got to enjoy a little bit of Eastern Tn. While the kids competed, the littles and I headed out for an adventure. We found a creek and explored it, we visited a free community splash pad, and skipped rocks on sinking creek. Mia and Katie’s team came in third place. They were disappointed, but I’m proud of all their hard work. Katie was honored to receive first place in reasons, first in beef, and 4th overall individual. That means she can judge cattle really well, and explain why she placed them in that specific order. It was Tommy’s team first year competing at state. They didn’t place very well, but they learned a lot and are looking forward to coming back as a more competitive team next year.
We opened up fair season with the Pearl of the Purchase fair in Mayfield, Ky. Katie and Charlotte showed a lamb in market class and showmanship. Ruthie and Jack showed a lamb in the novice showmanship class. Mia showed a goat in market and showmanship. Every show is so different, depending upon the judge. The girls did not do as well in market as they had hoped. Charlotte did win showmanship!This was a really fun show to participate in because a lot of their friends were there as well. We are off to a fun start for the 2017 showing season!
The girls’ show season has started early this spring. Katie and Charlotte have picked out lambs from the Arnold’s and Crabtree’s respectively. Mia bought a goat from the Harper’s. They are all young yet but they are on target to hit their prime in August for our county fair. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be shown in every other show possible until then! We won’t be traipsing all across the country in search of the best county fair, but we do have a list of nearby shows that we hope to enter. This last weekend was a clinic where the girls learned more about the health and care of show animals, state law and showmanship skills. It was great to have these young animals out in the ring, giving them experience. It is always helpful to get feedback about technique, feed routine, health practices and vet care from other people in the lamb/goat world. It’s even more fun when it’s a day spent with friends and their animals!
This year our family has made the huge (to me, anyway) commitment to become involved on a robotics team. First Tech Challenge. It is a robotics team for high school age children. Although my 7 and 8 year old sometimes attend and are quite helpful, I’m told. Jeremie is the coach and they meet weekly for 3 (or so) hours at a time. We are thankful to a local church for allowing us to use their facility. One reason because it is so close to us. Less time travelling means more time building and programming. Katie and Tommy both are on the team and it has been fun to see theirs, and all the kids on the team’s, different strengths emerge. Some natural leaders. Some quiet thinkers. Some strong personalities. Some laid back. All effective. Working toward a common goal. I love the opportunity this provides for the kids and dads coaching. The only thing I don’t love is not being able to walk through one room of my house because of “robot gear”.
While the older girls were enjoying the dirt and dust of the barn arena in KC, the rest of us were enjoying the lovely downtown area. We saw a fabulous electric train display at the gorgeous Union Station. The kids were fascinated by all the tiny models of people, animals, towns, and trains. It was really loud in there with all those engines going! Then we took the skybridge over to the Crown Plaza where we visited Lego Land. I. Just. Can’t. Even. All those legos! All those bricks! All those mini figures! It was such a fun experience for my kids that adore Legos. Then we headed over to Kaleidoscope. This is an area hosted by the Hallmark Company. It is full of different arts and crafts stations for the kids to create, create, and create some more. The kids made artwork, then turned it into a puzzle. They painted. It was so fun to see them all engaged to intently. And Benja…that boy and his tape. Unlimited tape, tubes and paper. He was in heaven! Kansas City was a lovely city. Just a little, big city. I had heard negative things about it (the armpit of the midwest?) but I thought it was wonderful!
The older girls competed in a national livestock judging competition in Kansas City, Mo. What a fun reason to visit this iconic facility, that may soon be leaving the area. It was a long event that required a great attention to detail and critical thinking. The girls judged many types of livestock with their team-mates and other teams from around the nation. And then they were required to give sets of oral reasons to judges as to why they placed certain animals in that order. Quick decision making, a critical eye, confidence, poise, knowledge. All these things are required to be successful. And the kids did an amazing job. To compete at this level is such an honor. We are very grateful to their coaches at the extension office and to Melinda who took the time out of her busy schedule to hear and critique reasons, message back and forth, and drive home from across the state for evening practices. We look forward to a very bright future with this successful team!
Here are a few of our favorite craft items this year. I like to post pictures so next year the kids can look back and remember what they made so there are no duplicates! And I didn’t get a picture of it, but James made an awesome walking stick. He sanded, stained and poly U’d it all by himself. And Tommy made lego robot that solves the rubix cube, but unfortunately the rubix cube we ordered from Walmart was the wrong size, so he didn’t get to enter it.
What a fabulous time we’ve had at the fair this week. What we’ve learned…
How have we learned and cultivated all these character traits? Well, these pictures here just show the culmination of months of hard work, diligence and planning. The kids raising the hogs have had to monitor their weight gain, deal with worms and parasites, feeding and watering issues, work out duty assignments, pay a surrogate caretaker. The lamb girls have had to research diet and nutrition, plan and prepare for multiple shows and expos, establish and maintain a relationship with a show feed distributor, exercise and groom their animals, learn to give their animals shots, trim hooves, set up temporary pens and bedding. And the crafts! Such a fun activity, but a learning experience as well. And I think they really stretched their creativity this year with the neat items they entered. Here’s what I love about this experience. All my kids helped each other. Mia is diligent and would remind the others to feed the hogs and check their water. Tommy is brilliant and hooked up an automatic water nozzle for them. Susie is sweet and does whatever is needed and has an eye for what will make things easier. Katie showed Charlotte all she knows about caring for a show lamb that is rather high-maintenance. Charlotte cared for and exercised the lambs while Katie traveled and was away. They all worked on different crafts, but each of the girls took the time to help a younger sibling do a craft so that they would have something to enter into the fair as well. And when it came time to fill out record books, well that was a team effort as well. Tommy did the trouble shooting when the computers and printers would act up. Katie came up with creative wording about their goals and experience. Mia kept meticulous records of purchases and expenses. This was a family endeavor and all those kids are champions, in my opinion!
The first lamb show of the season was at the Calloway County fairgrounds. It was a warm day, but pleasant enough in the shade. There were very few people watching the show, which was surprising. Mostly just families of the kids involved. This was a great show, though, with quality animals and showmen. It is early in the year for spring-born lambs to be mature enough for market, but there were some finely finished animals being showed. First the girls showed their lambs, but they were the ones being judged. Judged on how well they braced their animals, controlled, their animals, knew about raising their animals. The judge spoke to each contestant, encouraging them, questioning them, and correcting them. She was a fabulous judge who gave lots of feedback and advice to the girls. Charlotte won first place in her age division for showmanship. I was so proud of her because I know how much time and effort she has been putting into her lamb this year. She even takes care of Katie’s lamb for her while she travels around. The girls placed lower in the market lamb category, simply because their animals were young, and not finished like the competition. My girls have their eye on the Henry County Fair, which is in September. So their lambs have a long time to go yet. This was a fun competition because the quality of the animals involved and because their friends were showing lambs as well.