The 4-Her’s Show and Tell
This child … the one above, on the left. She’s a blue-eyed whippersnapper with a bucolic view of the world and a wicked sense of humor. She loves responsibility and is always eager to be involved … but there are just so many things to see and do in any given moment that it’s easy to get distracted. She has a heart of gold and a ten-gallon smile. She has a dimple in her chin, just like her daddy. She’s musically inclined and poetic by nature. Her fingers can fly across the keyboard or pick guitar strings or attempt to sketch what her eyes see. She is tender to animals, but can be short-tempered with her little brother. She’s a fashionista, but her closet is complete and utter chaos. And this year it was confirmed … she’s quite the showman … showwoman.
She won the Dairy Showman of Showmen honors at the county fair. Not only did she get a big blue ribbon, she also earned a spot in the Super Showman contest. She had to instruct, then judge her peers in dairy showmanship. And then she competed in all other species.
Showing beef cattle and horses isn’t such a stretch for someone with dairy experience who also has horses and steers at home. But dogs? Goats? Chickens?! Yeah, we have chickens at home but we don’t know the first thing about showing them. She learned, though.
Between her award on Tuesday and Saturday’s super showman contest she asked questions, learned facts and practiced showing all animals — as did her peers. Each is a winner in his or her respective categories (from left): swine, rabbits and chickens, dogs, horses, dairy, sheep, beef, dairy beef, goats. And they competed against each other to determine who mastered all species. It was stiff competition and they take it very seriously. SUPER Showman? That’s the gold standard.
The horse showmanship contest was first …
… especially since they were showing a stuffed chicken, not the real deal (due to avian flu regulations). Seriously, though —not a rubber chicken in the place! What a lost opportunity for humor. But I digress.
At least we don’t have to worry about sheep. Soon after I snapped this photo, Mary’s little lamb took a hop, skip and then a jump out of my daughter’s arms. The lamb went running off into the distance and the girl on her trail swore she would never show a sheep again. “They don’t even use halters!” she exclaimed in dumbfounded dismay.
It was her turn to stand in the center of the ring as her peers paraded around her in the dairy class. She looked to see if they maintained eye contact, kept those heifers’ heads in the air, and positioned their feet properly.
And though the youngest among them didn’t win, she had a blast and learned a lot about herself and her fellow competitors, and showmanship in general. Showing a prizewinning animal is fantastic, but receiving award and honor for skills you craft and practice year in and year out? That’s awesome! Each and every one of these kids deserves a round of applause.
And once again, like every year since I became a veteran 4-Her turned 4-H parent, I get all warm and fuzzy and slightly weepy at the lessons they’re learning and the people they’re becoming.