Yesterday I ended with Hazelnut’s passing and how that set up so many other things that have happened since. So to continue with my story a few days later a neighboring farm offered us another Jersey which we went and saw and then got that weekend, and I named her Acorn. And even though it was still very soon after it happened Acorn did help to make it a bit better. A little while after that, with a few months of practicing with Annabeth and Acorn I decided to claim another of the family farm’s Holsteins, mainly because a Holstein that was born at the time that I was helping to feed as I got more involved on the farm reminded me of a dog. So I registered her in my name, and I named her Bingo. During this time I also had begun to help feed the heifers and sometimes scrape off the floor if it got dirty when the cows came in before milking time. With all of this happening it gave me a bit less time to work with my show cows, but I made it work.
Eventually we had to tell the family that gave us Hazelnut that she’d died, and they felt so bad that they let us have another one of their Jerseys for free. This one I names Lilly, and suddenly I had four show cows to bring to the fair that year, which is more than I’d ever had before. It was also my first fair that I ever got any big prizes in. Annabeth won Reserve Grand Champion Milking Shorthorn that year, and it was the first time that had ever happened for me, which was really exciting. So exciting in fact that I honestly don’t remember much else that happened that year.
Also during this time my other cows were getting older and it was time for them to start having calves. Unfortunately it turns out that Katy was born with or possibly developed over time a hormone problem, meaning we had to breed her nine times before she had her first calf. So then Jasmine was born, a fully white lineback which I thought was interesting. This was in November, and a few months later in March Eclipse had her first calf, Martha. Martha was a half Jersey and half Holstein, and usually our farm doesn’t keep those but we did for the first time. Primmy also had one like that, but we sold her calf to a farm close by, but I don’t really remember why we got rid of that one but kept Martha. So with these two in mind, along with Lilly still being of a small size, these three went with me to the fair that year. Nothing as exciting as the year before happened that year prize wise, but it was my first year as a Junior Superintendent, which I think I’ve mentioned before but in case I haven’t it just means that I helped the adults take care of the barn during the week, and I got to sleep in the barn. There were many stories that happened during that time, but I already feel that this post is going on really long, so I will begin part three with that tomorrow.
Mainly because I can’t think of anything else to write about today I decided to just go with a bit about what dairy farming means to me, but it might possibly turn into a rant because I don’t really know what I’m about to write…
So I probably have mentioned this before but I really got into dairy farming when I was in the eighth grade. It started the summer before when we stopped by the County Fair that would become my home for the next seven years of my life and I saw a few lineback cows that I believe I have also mentioned a few posts before. So a few months after that in February Katy was born and you could very easily say that my life was changed forever. Suddenly I was in the barn all the time with her, walking everywhere and going anywhere around the yard that we possibly could. Of course this was so long ago that there are many stories I could go into that I might not fully remember so I can’t really go into them.
But anyway after that first year and the first time I had a fair week and I loved it so much I decided to try to find more cows. Of course having a family farm full of Holsteins, they were what came next. This idea came to me shortly at the end of the fair, so of course August came next and a few weeks later Primrose was born. We shortened it down to Primmy after a while especially when she was bad, which when it came to walking and showing she was, and eventually we had to decide she just wasn’t a show cow and ended up not bringing her along to the fair the next time. But it was okay because there was still Katy and a few months later in October another Holstein was born that I decided I wanted to show, Eclipse (yes that Eclipse). So she joined my show cow group and she actually could figure out how to do it and became my third cow but my second show cow. Then one of my mom’s friends that she works with who was also a dairy farmer with a farm full of Jerseys which they sold to us. So then I had Hazelnut, my third show cow.
With those four cows/three show cows we went to the second fair of my life, which was as good as the first time. Once again there was many adventures that I can’t fully go into again because it was so long ago (maybe I have too much information in my head I don’t really know haha). Then August came again and we found out about a cow auction at a different county fair close by, and though it was unplanned we came home with my first Milking Shorthorn, Annabeth.
After all of this it was about the end of 2013, October specifically, and then through no fault of anyone in the barn, we lost Hazelnut. No one really knows what happened, only that we came in and she was lying on the floor. It was the day before Halloween and the next day she was gone. It was the first time anyone or anything close to me had died. I’ve been lucky in the aspect that I never lost a human close to me, and until recently I hadn’t lost a house dog or cat that I could remember. So this turned out to be an actually very important thing for me, even though it was terrible and I’ll never forget it until the day that I die. But I know now that it happened for a reason, because if it hadn’t so many things that have happened since probably wouldn’t have, and I know that God knew that. It might’ve taken me six or seven years to realize this, but I think that’s okay and that it might’ve had to happen that way. But anyway I feel like I’ve been going on about this a long time so I’m going to stop now, and just say that part two comes tomorrow.
So a few days ago there was a video on Facebook that was this guy saying a whole bunch of wrong things about 4-H and FFA, and on Facebook I wrote a response that didn’t connect to the video so he wouldn’t get the publicity he wanted so I thought I should put it on here too. All my Facebook friends have already seen this, but you’re always welcome to read it again if you want to, and if you’re not my friend on Facebook but read this blog of course I encourage you to read it, especially if you don’t know much about 4-H and FFA.
Ok I know most of my agricultural friends have seen the video of the man saying a bunch of rather ignorant things about 4-H and FFA that was so out there it was obviously for attention and nothing else, but for those who haven’t it’s honestly not even worth the watch especially since it’s just what he and the page wants. This is why I’m posting my thoughts like this so it doesn’t actually connect to the video and it doesn’t fully give the wanted publicity. The first thing is that I have been a member of 4-H since the third grade but only got into the animal section seven years ago. And I don’t know but I don’t think I’ve been a victim of child abuse, and I’m pretty stinking sure I’m not about to go out and be a serial killer. Also 4-H and FFA are in no way the same organization, and livestock is not all either of these organizations that have changed my life for the better are about. I was an active FFA member for my last few years of high school and I just aged out of 4-H barely a week and a half ago. I know for a fact I have not spent these last few amazing, dare I say best years of my life, learning to treat animals as objects. If anything I learned to treat them as my family. I learned responsibility, communication, I FINALLY learned how to actually talk to people (those who knew me at a young age know that that wasn’t my strongest suit for a long time). I learned love, I learned hard work, I learned heartbreak, and that things can always look better when the sun comes up. FFA and 4-H are basically the things that taught me how to be a responsible adult and helped lead me to a life I’m proud to live, even though there are plenty of hard times and even though I’m only nineteen and basically still a kid in many aspects I’ve already lost four of my cows who are basically my family in every way except for that they’re not human. This is my life and it always saddens me when I see people out there who don’t understand and never will understand or think anything except for that it has to be wrong because it’s what they believe or say that it’s wrong because they’re looking for attention. But as long as I can even though most don’t listen I will keep spreading my truth that I know because I’ve lived it, and I will keep farming as long as I can because I know it’s right and it’s what I love to do. Thanks to everyone who bothered to read this full thing especially if you haven’t seen the video and have no idea what I’m talking about. Much love to you all ❤️❤️
Dear you, you the one I no longer see every day. The one I lost, the one that was found in the field with no explanation. The one I thought maybe I was finally starting to miss less, but who was I kidding it hasn’t even been a month yet. I miss you so much I can’t even make myself write your name in this post. I don’t know what brought this on really, just that I realized in a week it’ll have already been a month, and I swear it was only like a week ago. Or just when I can finally make myself look at the empty stall where you used to stand, and I can laugh at the cats sleeping in a pile in the hay that is all that is left. Did you know for a while I couldn’t even take the milker off of your neighbor when she was done because I couldn’t make myself stand up in there, let alone look at it. Did you ever get the feeling that something wasn’t right behind you, or like something was empty when it hasn’t been in a long time and it shouldn’t be? That’s what it was like for weeks. I sometimes like to imagine you running around in the field with Hazelnut who I don’t really know if you remember or not, but seeing as you’re with her now I’m sure you do. You’re up there with her, and with Cas who I know you remember seeing as she was your calf and she’s barely been gone over a year. Acorn is there with you too, though you never got to meet her. And I thought all of these names I listed would have been the worst, the ones that would hurt the most, but none of them have ever hurt as much as losing you did. I don’t know if it’s just that it’s more recent or what but there are days where it’s some small thing that has me on the verge of bawling my eyes out once again. And I don’t know if you went to heaven, because I don’t know where animals go when they die. I tell myself you do though, because I know that God put you on this earth for me for a reason, and he wouldn’t have done that if I was never going to see you again. It might not be for eighty or ninety years or so, but someday we will be together again. But right now, with this pain I still feel at random times during some random hour of some random day, well it sucks. And it sucks that some people still can’t see it, and they can’t see what dairy farmers go through and that they think of their animals as nothing more than objects, and that we are inhumane and don’t care when you die. Well I care. I care a lot, and it hurts and when I got up this morning and thought about what to say today I wasn’t planning on this but it seems to have happened. Eclipse, there I did it, I got your name in here, not that anyone reading this who knows me doesn’t know who I’m talking about, I miss you so much and it’s not fair that you got taken away, but eventually I’ll learn to accept it, even though this pain will never fully go away.
Until we meet again in eighty or ninety years, I will always and forever be your Sara.
“So here we are. You and me, on the last page.” -Doctor Who
Obviously this isn’t actually the last page, but today was the last day of the fair and my last day ever. So of course after seven years this was gut wrenching if not heartbreaking. I told myself I wouldn’t cry today, but it came out more than once. And even though I’m sitting here cleaner than I’ve been all week and super relieved to be home I’m gonna miss it terribly.
It probably didn’t help that I’m still currently running on two and a half hours of sleep and have been all day not counting the small nap I had. Now you’re all probably wondering why I only had two and a half hours of sleep. Well there’s this little annual last fair night thing known as prank night. It was my first time ever participating, and even though I’m tired I’m super glad I did. We didn’t do anything terrible, just fun, stupid stuff like stacking garbage cans. I’ll always be able to say that prank night is and forever will be my last night adventure of the fair and it’s a night I will never forget and will tell my children about in the future. It was a great night, and a great week, and an amazing last fair. It was probably the perfect fair week of the seven I’ve had, and I will always be glad that though my last week is super sad it was amazing and full of only good and great things and people. So now it is time to put to rest and say rest in peace to the Chautauqua County Fair 2018 and my 4-H Dairy Program career.
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” -Andy Bernard, The Office
Well as I sit here and write this it is finally the last night of the week. I was very tempted to walk around singing “Last Midnight” from Into the Woods but I didn’t think anyone would get it, so I restrained myself. It still hasn’t really seemed to hit me yet that when I go home tomorrow I will never show cows with 4-H or sleep in this barn again. It could be because I’m not really gonna let it until Monday, or try to anyway, we’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’s probably just cause I’m tired and ready to go home. There’s also the fact that one can never really know what the future will bring, and I could very well come back and show in the Open Class again. And be back to visit like every year until I no longer know anyone here.
So events of the day; there was a Holstein show and a fun show in the arena which we watched for a bit. Then we played a few games on the Midway and I won a pig, a cow, and a Gizmo, (the one from Gremlins for those who don’t know what that is). The showers were clogged for a bit but they’re fixed now I think. There was also the last big meeting of the week and I had to go up and be recognized for aging out. And then we had the barnyard olympics for the kids which actually went pretty well and wasn’t a huge mess for the first time in three years. I also got to give a kid a prize for being the most enthusiastic first year which was kind of fun.
Well with that we head into the final night of the fair and into my final day of my final year in the 4-H Dairy Program.
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).
The 4-H show didn’t bring me any big ribbons like yesterday, but it did get me 5 out of 7 in the showmanship section which is possibly the best I’ve ever done in showmanship. It was also just a better showing day for my cows, maybe not prize wise but both Charlie and Sammy walked so much better than yesterday. In fact Sammy might’ve even walked better for me than she has in months! That is the biggest thing for today.
Of course with being one of the oldest kids here I was in the first showmanship section so I didn’t have the time to take my nap in the camper that I usually do in the morning. That being said after the show I crashed and took a nap in my chair which my mom then thought it would be fun to take a picture of and put on Facebook (thanks Mom, haha). I played that game fir a little bit at the picnic table with my friends again. We also did a drawing contest and I got to hold a little girl’s unicorn for a bit (a stuffed one obviously). And that was pretty much my day. It’s really hard to believe that including tonight there’s only three nights left…
Wow that night got crazy in the middle of me writing this, so much so that it is now like 11:30 am right now as I finish this. I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to tell details so I won’t and I’ll just leave off with life is weird, especially during fair week and you never know what might happen.
Well I’m still not sure really if it’s a good thing or bad thing that today was my last ever Open Class show. I mean I don’t really know that about this fair week in general. I do know that I am super tired and I am definitely ready to be able to sleep at ten o’clock or before if I want to.
But anyway today was what one might call a pretty successful showing day. The one goal I decided to have for this week was for my Jersey calf, Hazel, who happens to be the granddaughter of Eclipse who died a week and a half ago exactly, to beat at least one cow in her class. Mainly because with my Jerseys this has only happened I think once before in my seven years at the fair. This also happens to be exactly what happened so I decided right then and there that no matter what my other cows got, I got what I wanted for the week.
But I didn’t really need to worry about that. Sammy was the only one in her class so she got first in her class and Rory got third out of three in her class but neither of them did anything more than that. This is okay though because they still get the ribbons to hang above them for the rest of the week and we’re still able to say they got first and third.
And then there was my Milking Shorthorn, Charlie. She definitely didn’t walk her best today, so much so that the judge even noticed and said she wasn’t doing herself justice. Even with that he still liked her and Charlie ended up winning Reserve Junior Champion. I have to admit I was a bit surprised because I thought some of the others looked better than her, but hey I’m not complaining, and I don’t really know all that much about judging anyway. This is also the second Reserve Champion I ever got that wasn’t simply given because there was only one or two of the breed at the fair. And the last time just happened to be Annabeth, otherwise known as Charlie’s mother, and this was four years ago.
So even though Charlie didn’t walk as good as I would’ve liked and I’m now debating whether or not to use her for showmanship tomorrow like I had originally planned, it was still a great day. I also spent part of my evening playing Uno and a game called Flinch with one of my favorite fellow fair families/friends ever which I enjoyed a lot. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow with my last 4-H show ever will bring me.
I’ve always thought the first few days of the fair dragged on forever but here we are already at the end of day three. We survived last night’s rainstorm and the heat and humidity went away, making today altogether much more comfortable than the last two. My mom and I found frozen bananas on the Midway at lunch time and according to her they were pretty good, but with me never being a big fan of bananas I ended up with some sort of peanut sundae instead. Also today I had to help tell the younger kids a few things about showmanship and I really had no idea what I was talking about but hopefully I didn’t sound like it.
There was the annual Tuesday dairy barn potluck dinner today and I got to watch and sort of help judge one of my friend’s presentations about the difference between A1 and A2 milk and which cows give which type. So that was fun to see. And now all that’s left for today is normal nightly things like collecting cans (eventually) and going to sleep at midnight with hopefully waking up at 5:30 ish with enough energy to do our first show of the week in the morning, without much nap time beforehand. It will also be my last time ever showing cows in the Open Class show at this fair. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.