My elders are always saying that time never seems to slow down. As the cool crisp air of fall brushes against my cheeks, I cringe at how quickly this past summer flew by. It seems like just yesterday it was the middle of May, and we were separating the show yearlings from the rest of their age group. Thus marking the beginning of summer. We had the county state fair selection show, dairy breakfast, and enjoyed a nice Memorial Day weekend all while school was still in session. It wasn't until the boys brought home their final report cards on June 9 that summer "officially" began. A welcome beginning after the long cold winter we had.
As the summer went on we kept busy with VBS, swimming lessons, church camp, visiting grandma Susie's vegetable farm, and working at the home farm. We did find time to squeeze a week long family vacation to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park in July. This trip was years in the planning, and ended up being more then I imagined. It's fun to cross something off you bucket list, and I did that with this trip. You can read more about the trip in an upcoming copy of Progressive Dairyman in the HERd Management section. You could say that trip was the highlight of our summer, but summer would not be complete without a county fair and working with show heifers.
This past summer we allowed our oldest, Randy, to take 4 heifers to the fair. There was a Milking Shorthorn spring yearling named Rea. Randy bought her last year as a calf with some money he won. Kiwi was a Milking Shorthorn spring calf. He also showed 2 Dutch Belted heifers. Sasha was a fall calf, and April was a spring calf. My other 2 boys have witnessed Randy showing heifers for 3 years now, and are anxiously awaiting their turn. We let Wesley and Matthew each halter break a heifer to practice with here on the farm. Matthew worked with Kiwi, and Wesley worked with a little Dutch Belted spring calf he called Buttercup.
Every day the boys could be found walking their animals around and practicing showing. It was fun to watch them from on top of the hill having their own little show. Two would have their animals on halter and one would be the judge.
Feeding time they helped each other since every animal had their own special diet. We had to halter each animal, tie her up, and feed her. They would work together to help wash and clip the heifers throughout the summer. Other then asking for me help on the heads, they did most of the clipping between the 3 of them. When it came time for toplines, Randy wanted to do everything on his own. He just asked for me to watch. As fair time grew closer we sought out the help of a friend to work with Randy to sharpen his showmanship skills.
When fair time came, we loaded the animals into the trailer and off we went. Once at the fair the boys worked together again every day to wash and care for the animals. We also showed at the local school fair, which is only 1 day. Randy's hard worked over the summer paid off. At the Grant County Fair Sasha won Reserve Champion All Other Breeds and earned Randy a spot in the livestock auction selling cheese. April and Kiwi earned blue ribbons, while Rea earned a red ribbon. He also placed 2nd in showmanship class. At our school fair, all animals earned blue ribbons. Sasha was Jr. Champion All Other Breeds, and Kiwi was Jr. Champion Milking Shorthorn. Here Randy won his showmanship class. Matthew and Wesley showed their animals in the kiddie showmanship classes. Not only were the kids busy in the show ring, but they showed a number of other projects that earned many blue and special ribbons.
As the fair came to an end, we had to quickly unpack thing because school start August 25th. The boys are now in 6th, 3rd, and 2nd grade.
Over the summer the boys learned about teamwork, attention to detail, organization, setting priorities, and time management skills. I know that all this will come in handy not only in school this year but throughout their lives. Yes, our summer was short this year; but the memories we made and the times we shared together will be with us for a lifetime.
Oh by the way, we were building an new calf barn and installing automatic calf feeders too this summer. More on that in my next blog.