Sunday, August 2, 2015

I Love 4h and County Fair

We just wrapped up Clatsop County Fair 2015.
It was wonderful, exhausting, emotional, exciting and dirty.
My car is a disaster inside and out.
I am sure there is enough hay, alfalfa and straw inside of it to make an entire bale.
It smells terrible inside and it appears to be brown on the outside instead of grey.
Our travel trailer has socks, clothes, dirt, hay and loads more junk stretched from one side to the other.
The beds were left unmade all week and a pile of boots were always by the door.
We woke up early at the fair and went to bed late at the fair.
I am sure I will be blowing dust out of my nose for the next week.
I loved all of it.

I didn't grow up as a 4h kiddo, but The Farmer did.
It is something I love, a lot.
I want every single kiddo that I know to experience it.
I honestly believe there is nothing better for kids than 4h.
The sheer number of adults, some of which no longer have kids in 4h, take a week off work to volunteer their time is amazing to me.
They "vacation" to pour into our kids.

I believe the lessons these kiddos learn will be with them for a lifetime.

Parents aren't allowed to help their kids during fair week unless it is a safety issue.
Kids help each other.
Carrying heavy water buckets, scooping poop, moving animals you name it they help each other.

Kids who raise steers generally get them in October.
For 10 months they
feed, water and care for an animal.
They also have to halter break them which isn't easy.
Most other animals are aquired in February.
Believe me when I say it isn't always sunshine and rainbows.
We have had our fair share of arguments about getting out to the barn to feed and water
especially when its dark at 5 pm with driving rain and blustery wind.
It's dedication for the kids as well as the parents.

Profit and Loss:
In our house The Farm Manager and The Fancy Farm Girl, if she chooses to participate, are responsible to buy their own animals and feed.
This year The Farm Manager tackled 5 projects and didn't have enough money to fund all the them so we  loan him the money for the animals and the feed.
When he receives his auction funds the first order of business is paying his debts.
Then he gets to decide what amounts he wants to spend, save, donate and invest.

Our 4h group is lucky enough to have Cloverbuds as part of our group.
These are kids from kinder to 3rd grade.
They get to participate in fair on Friday and can show what are referred to as pocket pets.
Ducks, chickens, cavy's, rabbit and even cats.
These little kids look up to the big kids.
They want to be just like those big 4h kids.
This year our club, Melville Livestock, had what we called "Clover Buddies"
A 4h kid, grades 4th- 12th, partnered up with a Cloverbud and spent a couple hours one day with them during fair week showing them the ropes.
The Farm Manager had Sam as a Clover Buddy and it was great Sam LOVED it and so did Jameson.
The Fancy Farm Girl was Miranda's Clover Buddy and spent time learning about her hog.
Morning Meeting:
Every morning after stalls are cleaned and animals are fed there is a meeting where all the kids gather to hear what is going on for the day, what needs to be done better and they recite the 
Pledge Of Allegiance 
and the 
4h Pledge
every morning 
I wish this was more common.

Builds Confidence:
Participating in 4h can't help but grow your confidence.
Showing off your animal in front of an arena full of people takes courage.
Marketing your animal and talking to potential buyers can be very intimidating and requires practice. You never know what those buyers are going to ask you!
Wondering if your animal is going to behave and 
pulling a steer into the ring that weighs more than 12x your weight requires guts.
Sometimes when your animal acts naughty and you're just not sure your confidence gets rebuilt in minutes just from someone having a hold of the end of your rope.
 We (parents) are in this together. We want the best for every single kid participating in fair and are willing to do what we can to help.
It takes a village.

Learning to lose with grace:

Not every show ends with a blue or purple ribbon.
Sometimes it ends with a red or even a white.
We are striving for kids that never give up in the ring.
You never stop showing until you are out of the ring.
You save your disappointment for outside the ring.
When you get beat you seek out the winner, shake their hand and congratulate them.
This year The Farm Manager earned his first red ribbon when his lamb got away from him.
He was disappointed, but he never gave up.
Losing is important
It keeps you humble
It always teaches you a lesson and makes you strive to do better.

.. and win with grace.
Winners should also seek out the other showman and congratulate them.

There is so much more I love about the process and one single solitary thing I dislike.
I hate walking out of the barn after auction.
It breaks my heart to see kids laying in their pig pens on their pigs crying.. to see kids sitting outside on the grass crying.
Even knowing going into the game what the end result is I doubt it will ever get easier.
Losing a friend

Last night as I tucked The Farm Manager into his nest and he cried... I cried too.
I knew it would be hard for him, but what I didn't know is that it would be hard for me also.
It's hard to be a farmer

We are now on vacation from fair for the next 60 or so days.
Then it all starts again and I can't wait!

Blessed Is Me..