Friday, May 11, 2012

Toppenish Livestock Fair

Welcome to the strange world of competitive livestock 'showing'.
 A brand new experience for us as we've never gotten into the 4-H stuff. The kids were always too busy with sports! But now that Ashley is in high school she has joined FFA and so we come into this world as complete novices! Most kids by the time they get to FFA are old hats at this stuff as they've been doing it for years through 4-H.

There are a few things in the world of 'livestock showing' that have completely taken me by surprise.

1 - It is mind boggling at how seriously some people take this.
2 - There were a lot of wranglers, romeos, and belt buckles.
3 - It is a LOT of work
4 - When you put  400+  animals in one place. There is poop. A lot of poop.
5 - Farmers/ the agriculture community are a pretty neat group of people. (for the most part)
6 - IT WAS FUN!!

Ashley absolutely loved it, and even Brandi - my one and only full fledged girly girl who cringes in the face of mud and animal poop - wants to join 4-H next fall!

They put a lot of work into getting their animals prepped and ready....they are required to have worked with the animal for a minimum of 60 days before hand.
All the campers/motorhomes come rolling in and everybody just finds a spot to call home in a big open field. Not just any field, but a field liberally speckled with horse poop.
The kids have to be up and at em bright and early to have their pens cleaned out before the judges come around and grade them on their 'herdsmenship' So when they're getting up at 5:30 and mucking stalls, then cleaning and caring for their animals and going into the ring to 'perform' it makes for some long tiring days.
Brandi helping get some dinner ready

Securing the sheep onto the stand to do some last minute cleaning

Ready to go into the ring to show off all the hard work...
This is where the nerves start to kick in....

There's  a very specific way the sheep has to be set up.....

The judge....watching for little tiny mistakes

They are judged in two different categories. The first day is "market' This is where the quality of the sheep is being judged. Apparently they are not all as similar as they appear to my untrained eye. Ashley got 2nd place in her division in that category. (thank you Denise)

Then the next day they are judged in 'fitting and showing' On how well they are able to work with, set up, & show their animal. Ashley got the gold medal in her division!! Which would be a lot more exciting if she weren't the only FFA Novice there:)
She really did do very well! (thanks to Jusin for all his coaching)

The third and final day is sale day. This can be a very traumatic emotional affair. Each kid leads their animal into the sale ring where they are sold...mostly to butcher. A few for others to keep and raise. And there's always a few tears from those who have become a little too attached to their animal.

John and Audrey decided to come join us at the fairgrounds for a couple days. They found a nearby hotel and came and joined us during the day. Was great to have some family there!

Tyler was doing ok that first day but then that night they started hauling in loads of sawdust for the show pens. It was all downhill from there. Any time he got anywhere near the sawdust it triggered his asthma. Aunty Audrey picked up some dust masks hoping that would help. It definitely did help but I think it was too little too late. Even though the poor kid spent most of his time in the camper after that we just couldn't get on top of it. Monday night it got bad enough that Bob took him to the hospital.
After that he couldn't come back there so our wonderful friend/neighbor Deanna kept him for the next couple of days.

Been a stressful day:)
Hanging out in the Olmsteads motor home

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