My First Year In 4-H, My First Show Calf, My First Winner

9 Mar

My First Year In 4-H, My First Show Calf, My First Winner

When I was ten years old I Joined the “Whitly Whiz Kids” 4-H club. For my first project Dad helped me select a couple of steers from his feedlot. We picked a Hereford and a shorthorn. We moved them to a small lot ajacent to the main lot that still had access to the barn. I had a great time taking care of them. For the first time I felt the satisfaction of ownership and responsiblity. I also learned that my least favorite part of farming was keeping records. This would remain true throughout my farming career.
As fair time approached it was evident that I was behind in training them to lead so Dad decided he better give me some assistance. For two weeks we hitched them to the back of the hay rack and Dad would drive while I got them used to being lead.
When time for the Arthur Fair arrived it was decided that I might be a little young to leave at the fair by myself so my cousin Jim was sent to keep me company. We put a tarp over the stockrack and made a pretty comfy room for us in the back of the truck. We were given twenty dollars each that was supposed to last all week. You may have already guessed that we spent it all the first night. We got pretty hungry before Dad finally got there late the next day. All I can say is I’m a pretty fast learner, and after many fair stays in the years following, I can say the carnival never got me again. Lesson for life. Learn from your mistakes.
After weighing the steers it was determined that the Hereford was a heavy weight and the Shorthorn a middle weight. In the bottom picture I’m showing the shorthorn and my cousin Mike was also showing a shorthorn just to my left in the picture. I ended up in fourth place which I thought was pretty good for the class.
When it came time to show the Hereford (my calves never had names) the judge had us lined up in a big circle around the ring. To my astonishment he signaled for me to line up in first place. I was a pretty happy kid. My sister was also happy for me and baked a celebration cake for me. The Hereford won his class at three local shows and was Reserve Champion at one. He did so well that we decided to take him to the Illinois State Fair junior show where he placed a respectable fourth. In those days the State Fair was a ten day deal which was a whole other story.
I showed steers for two more years, then switched to purebred Hampshire Hogs. All steers were selected from Dad’s feedlot. The last one I showed was returned to the feedlot when we were through showing. One day after that I was walking across the lot when he came up behind me and stuck his head under my arm for a little pet. It was one of life’s memorable moments.
There is nothing like the fair for a farmboy. I’ll never forget that first calf, and that first fair. I will look forward to a day or two at the State this year. And oh yes I’m “Agriculture Proud”.


2 Responses to “My First Year In 4-H, My First Show Calf, My First Winner”

  1. My Life in 'The Hills' June 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    I grew up showing Hereford cattle too and still do. Great way to grow up!

    • paulhortenstine June 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

      I spent a lot of summers at the fairs, mostly showing Hampshire hogs. Herefords have aways been my favorite cattle. You buy certified Angus at McDonald’s and prime Hereford at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

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