Yesterday I ended with my first year as a Junior Superintendent so today I’m going to begin with a few stories of what happened that year. First off one of our main Junior Superintendent duties is/was collecting cans at nighttime when the fair was shutting down. One of these nights we had a man go running past us yelling “curse this fatness!” It was super random and funny so I still remember it. Other things that happened that year is that there was a long power outage that lasted pretty much all night and there was a fight on the midway causing us to lock down the barn for a while. So yeah, that was an interesting year.
Moving on to after the fair, it came time for Acorn to have her baby. Of course not having any major problems before this I was very excited. But what I didn’t know at the time was that the one we bred her to was related to her, because the other farmers weren’t very organized when it came to that. The baby was born dead, and a few weeks later Acorn was gone too. It was three years after Hazelnut, and since Acorn came to help me with dealing with that and it being my second time something like this happened it almost hurt worse this time.
Back a few months before that we got another Lineback cow at the same auction we got Annabeth from and we named this one Holly. Also during this year Annabeth had her first calf that we named Rey and Eclipse had her second baby that we named Neptune. Along with those three my sister decided that year to claim a Holstein and have me show her at the fair which she named Noel. A few months after she was born she got bloated which farmers can always fix by having the calf swallow dawn dish soap and with Noel being the first one I’d ever seen that happen to, from that day on her name became Bubbles. If that name sounds familiar it’s because a few posts ago I had the large Mishaps and Mayhem post that was mostly about her, especially since she almost broke my ankle. That fair year the most exciting thing was that Holly got Reserve Grand Champion Lineback in both shows, mainly because there was only two Linebacks that year but either way it was cool. I really don’t know how many posts this is going to turn into but it keeps getting really long and I guess I am going through seven years of my life so I guess that’s what happens.
Today was what one might call “work yourself to death in the snack bar day”. I’m just kidding, it’s really not that bad. It does make you super tired by the time you’re done with your two hours. And then they come to you in the afternoon and ask you to come back because they need help and you feel bad if you say no so you go back for another hour. And then all of a sudden the day is done and you’re sitting in the barn at night blogging once again.
The one other thing that really happened today was a guy come and asked about milk and calves and when cows come in heat. It sounded like he had a beef barn and was thinking about adding in dairy which I thought was interesting. But anyway, now it’s on to the last two nights and a day and a halfish until we all go home and get some sleep (which I need desperately).
For the next few days I will be posting about the Chautauqua County Fair that I went to for the last time last week and just got home from yesterday. I wrote all of these down in a notebook every night throughout the week with a few stories or summaries of events that happened each day. We begin on Sunday, which was day one and move in day…
Move in day has got to be one of the longest days of the entire week. It doesn’t help when the humidity is up and it’s like eighty-five degrees out before the trailer is even hooked up to the truck, making you already tired before you’re even up until midnight helping to take care of the barn. With that along with setting up your own stall and making sure all your cows are comfortable while also participating in two normal, annual, first day meetings along with making sure everyone has enough stall cards for each animal that gives their names, birthday and breed along with other general information about them, and making sure people don’t need help with other things, it shapes up to be a pretty full first day when you’re a Junior Superintendent. Proof of this also is the fact that this is originally being written in a notebook, sitting at a picnic table at the front of the barn at 10:52 at night.
There’s always something kind of peaceful about sitting in this barn at night. I’m not sure if it’s the quiet or lack of people or just the fact that the day is pretty much over and I get to sleep soon but I always enjoy night at the fair. There’s those things and also the fact that all the rides turn on and light up at night.
And with that basic summary of my day and my thoughts while I sit and write this, it is about the time to draw my last ever first day at the fair showing cows and being a Junior Superintendent with the 4-H Dairy Program to a close.
Well this is my last blog before the fair, so I decided to just talk a bit about showing and what exactly the shows entail. There are two shows for the dairy program, the 4-H show and the Open Class show. Every year the shows are always Wednesday and Thursday during the week, and the first few days before that always seem super slow and boring, but then the show days come and all of a sudden the week is over. But anyway, both days the shows start at nine o’clock in the morning and most of the time go to about three o’clock ish in the afternoon.
The Open Class show goes by age class (I think but I might be mixing the shows up????). This means that the calves, heifers and cows that are in the same age group get shown around the same time. It still goes by breeds, starting with Holstein, then Jerseys, and goes on after that, but once it gets to the end of the age group it goes on to the next age.
Now the 4-H show starts with showmanship. Showmanship is when a kid picks one of their best cows that are around a good size for them and then they get judged on how well they show them. Then after that at about 11 it goes into the rest of the 4-H show, which this time goes by breeds, so it goes through all of the Holsteins and then all of the Jerseys, etc. etc.
It’s kind of hard to describe it in words, which you’d think after this long it would be for me but oh well. So like I said this is probably my last post before the fair and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to blog during it. It all depends on if I can make it work on my phone or not, and also the amount of time I have. But if I don’t have time, I’ll make sure I write down posts in a notebook or something and the week after it’ll be posts about the fair the whole time.
Probably the most important thing a 4-H kid has to do the week ahead of the fair is to clip their cows. It may seem like a funny thing to do to others, but it helps the cows to look better and to be able to be shown off better. Besides it making them look pretty it also helps to keep them cooler during the fair week when it is not always the most comfortable temperatures.
Despite it sounding simple, it’s actually a lot of work. Kids most of the time need their own set of clippers, big ones and small ones, and they need a good spot to keep the hair away from the food and water of the other cows. One has to make sure they keep the hair in a straight line once it gets to the top so they can do the topline later at the fair, (story for another time). There’s also clipping the legs with the extra bones you have to be really careful to not hurt the cows. Most of the time the legs are just do what you can when it comes to clipping. We also have to clip the tail which I always find interesting because someone I guess decided we had to leave about a fist length of hair before the switch (the bottom of the tail) and all the hair up to the hips on the tail gets clipped. The head also gets clipped, and others might be able to get it pretty much fully, but like the legs most of the time it’s just do what you can.
So that’s what my job is for the next few days. There are other things to do decoration wise and stuff to be done before Sunday when we move down to the fairgrounds and I might talk a bit about that later in the week. The fair is coming super fast and though it is my last one as always I’m ready and excited.
When it comes to approximately two weeks before the county fair, as it is this week for me, the two most important things to do are to wash the cows and to clip them. Washing always has to go first in order to get as much dirt off of them as possible. This makes the clipping step easier in order to not break or damage the clippers or to hurt the cow.
Washing is pretty much one of the easier things to do in getting ready for the fair. The only major things needed are a bucket of water, a hose, a few different types of brushes, and dawn dish soap. Dawn dish soap works the best to get off most of the dirt, and though most any dish soap would probably work pretty much everyone I know uses dawn.
That being said while washing a cow it works best to rinse them off first with slightly warm water, but not too hot obviously. This way some of the dirt comes off before you even start scrubbing. The rest is pretty much scrubbing off as much dirt as you can, and then rinsing them off again. It’s also best to let them dry off before clipping, which is why I usually do washing one week and clipping the next.
Some farmers hate doing chores and are a lot of the time disappointed about how much work they have to do without always seeming to get anything out of it. Maybe it’s just cause I’m young still and I don’t do everything on the farm yet, but either way I haven’t felt this disappointment yet.
Even just the other day I was standing in the middle of the barn during milking time and I felt a random sense of pride at what I was doing and what I was able to do. Milking is a very interesting job, and there’s no shortage of bruises or close calls involved. There’s also the fact that the milkers are relatively heavy, even though you get used to it after a while, and sometimes the milkers don’t work.
Another thing I do at the farm is feeding the heifers, other wise known as the cows that haven’t had calves yet and aren’t milking yet. And having limited and rather small space in between the heifers that one has to walk through this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s kind of hard to describe it, but sometimes (most of the time) it’s a bit of a struggle. It’s always worth it too. It might not seem like it, but it is.