Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fair Time

Despite what the activity on this blog may lead you to believe we have been very busy in our household and on the farm recently. Once again we had the joy and stress of going through the fair preparation and judging. We now have 2 competitive 4-Hers and one Cloverbud  in the Lanoue crew. They have a lot of excitement and enthusiasm which lead to the creation of many projects, and as a result much pride and learning.
        This was Simon's second year in competitive 4-H and he put many hours into his array of projects mainly focusing on the engineering/mechanical project areas. The project he put the most time into was taking apart a small engine and then displaying and labeling all the parts. It took him to engines to accomplish this(the first ones block cracked) but it turned out great in the end. Thanks again to our local Patzers Hardware Hank for donating the engine for his project. Paul has talked to Simon about donating the display to our local ag class room as a teaching tool.
    This was Mary's first year in competitive 4-H and her main project was putting together a cat skeleton. The story goes that earlier this summer she found a cat skull and some random bones in the barn and was interested in making a fair project our of identifying the bones. I told her it would be nice if she had more of a skeleton to put together and she remembered our pet cat that died 3 years ago and we buried under a rock in the grove. She went and dug up the cat, Patches,  cleaned the bones, whitened them, and then assembled the skeleton. I was very impressed that she found the entire skeleton and even most one claw. It is a beautiful project and it did make some talk at the fair. It was mentioned in a radio interview and in the local newspaper as a project to see at the fair.
         After weeks of work it was finally prefair judging day. It was fun watching the kids show their projects off to the judges and explain all that they learned. I had to get a picture of each of their proud faces.

       On judging day they do not reveal who has gotten the grand champion in each project so when fair starts a few days later it is always fun to walk through the exhibits and see who got the big purple ribbons. This year Mary got 4 grand champions and Simon got 3. They did an amazing job.
      David also made a strong showing in cloverbuds where the projects are not placed but get a participation award. Here he is holding a pillow he made. Great job David.
Mary's first Champion was in photography with her picture of Rose in a hat.
Another was with her Entomology where she displayed insects she had collected and identified over the summer.
She also got a Grand Champion with her Geology project where she displayed and identified fossils she had collected while on our Michigan vacation. This year she did the Devonian time period.
Her final Grand Champion was with he cat skeleton in the project area of Veterinary Science. Many told her it was a State Fair quality project but she has a few more years before she will be eligible for that. 4-Hers need to have finished 6th grade to qualify for a trip to State Fair.
Simon's Grand Champions where with his Small Engine display in the Small Engine project.
He also got one with his walking robot he made for the Robotics project. He used the EV3 Lego robot he got for his birthday a few years ago. He was proud that this was the first robot he made that could walk and he programed it himself.
His final Grand Champion was with school science fair project entitled Food Power. This was entered in the electrical project area. In the project he measured different types of fruits and vegetables to see which one made the most power. He liked that in the display he glued lights around the board and then had it look like a potato was powering it, but it was really powered by the battery pack behind the display. Very tricky Simon.
      After the trill of seeing all the purple ribbons in the exhibit building it was time to start the livestock shows. After many weeks and months of working with the animals it was time for the big day. First was the beef show, and wouldn't you know it, it stated to rain. It added a little extra stress and cramped spaces as everyone moved the grooming shoots into the barn, but as Paul said we are farmer first and the rain will be great for the crops so no complaining here.
     This year we trained to lead by halter our two best heifer calves from our family herd. They looked very similar with their cute baldy faces. (That is what you call black cattle with a white face. This marking often comes from the crossbreeding of an Angus with Herford animal.) Their names were Elsa and Edith since this year the heifers get a number and the letter E as their identification.
    First in the ring was David in the cloverbud show. Paul had to help his show, as is required in the cloverbud show, but David looked cool and in control.
What a natural showman.

David and his proud showman pose outside the show ring. Great job David.
     Now it was Simon and Mary's turn in the ring. They were in the same class and I think it was good for them to be together. They had worked the calves together on the farm for so long that it felt right to have them in the ring together. The rain let up just enough as they were ready to enter the ring. Paul gave the kids some final pointers and bushes of the calves and then it was show time.
     They both handled the calves very well. It can be unknown how the cattle will react to all the people watching and loud announcements. The calves were a little hesitant but Simon and Mary kept firm control of them and even remembered to smile at the judge one in a while.

They did a great job and both got blues with their calves. They did get to go into the ring twice with their calves, once for the judging of the animal in their class and then for Showmanship where they are judged one their ability to show the animal. This as great practice for both of them and they got better each time they were in the ring. I know they will be wonderful showman.
Paul and Simon taking a sit after the show. They both look proud at how the show went. Now on to the pig show.
The next morning was the hog show and showman Dave was ready again to start off the show with style. He took into the ring Mary's pig Lilly and looked to be having fun showing the pig off.

David sure looks up to his dad and uncle Brad who were great hog showman. I think he could out show both of them in years to come.
There gets to be a lot of hurry up and wait in the hog show. With Simon and Mary each showing 4 pigs often the pigs will be in back to back classes so there is a lot to keep track of and also making sure they stay clean for the show. 
In the ring they both handled themselves well and did a good job keeping the pigs on the move and keeping an eye on where the judge is. Here are some of my favorite pictures. Sorry I took a lot.

This pig is Rascal and he was my favorite of the pigs this year. He got the name because when we first started walking the pigs around the yard earlier this summer he was more concerned on saying by the feed than walking around the yard like we wanted him to. David said "this one is a rascal" and the name stuck. He was our biggest barrow (castrated male pig) and he did well for Mary in the show getting 2nd in his class. The this I found fun about him was when it came time to clip his hair for the fair he would sit or lay down and roll onto his side like a dog wanting his tummy scratched. He loved the feeling to the clippers, which most pigs don't care for. He had personality and that it one of the things I enjoy about the hog project.

My 95 year old grandmother who is mostly house bound at this time even made it to a portion of the fair. Mary took a little brake in the show ring to say hi to her. Grandma has been around the farm her whole life and I think she enjoys seeing the younger generation partaking in the lifestyle she loves.
Mary did get one pink ribbon, which is a Reserved Grand Champion, in her pen of 3 class. She got a wonderful keepsake plaque and lots of pride in her job well done. The swine show ended our judging for this fair and I would have to say it was a wonderful one. Paul said they may never have another one with quite so many champion ribbons but I think with parents who grew up with 4-H and see all the wonderful skill that come from  the projects and hard work we will continue to encourage them to create quality projects and explore as many areas as they want. I hope they can continue this energy and enthusiasm for many years to come.
Just a few final pictures from the remainder of the fair.
 Luke and Rose had to help out bringing hay to the calves.
Paul and David at the Rodeo. Talk about a mini Paul.
On the final day of the fair we had the 4-H ribbon auction. Simon and Mary both took their highest placing hogs into the ring. There is great community support for the 4-Hers and it has helped our county's livestock projects grow in number and quality. 
Simon made sure to smile big at his Grandpa's who had just bought Mary's ribbon. Who could pass up a smile like that.
Thanks everyone for all the support and great job kids at a wonderful county fair.

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