Yesterday I ended with my first year as a Junior Superintendent so today I’m going to begin with a few stories of what happened that year. First off one of our main Junior Superintendent duties is/was collecting cans at nighttime when the fair was shutting down. One of these nights we had a man go running past us yelling “curse this fatness!” It was super random and funny so I still remember it. Other things that happened that year is that there was a long power outage that lasted pretty much all night and there was a fight on the midway causing us to lock down the barn for a while. So yeah, that was an interesting year.
Moving on to after the fair, it came time for Acorn to have her baby. Of course not having any major problems before this I was very excited. But what I didn’t know at the time was that the one we bred her to was related to her, because the other farmers weren’t very organized when it came to that. The baby was born dead, and a few weeks later Acorn was gone too. It was three years after Hazelnut, and since Acorn came to help me with dealing with that and it being my second time something like this happened it almost hurt worse this time.
Back a few months before that we got another Lineback cow at the same auction we got Annabeth from and we named this one Holly. Also during this year Annabeth had her first calf that we named Rey and Eclipse had her second baby that we named Neptune. Along with those three my sister decided that year to claim a Holstein and have me show her at the fair which she named Noel. A few months after she was born she got bloated which farmers can always fix by having the calf swallow dawn dish soap and with Noel being the first one I’d ever seen that happen to, from that day on her name became Bubbles. If that name sounds familiar it’s because a few posts ago I had the large Mishaps and Mayhem post that was mostly about her, especially since she almost broke my ankle. That fair year the most exciting thing was that Holly got Reserve Grand Champion Lineback in both shows, mainly because there was only two Linebacks that year but either way it was cool. I really don’t know how many posts this is going to turn into but it keeps getting really long and I guess I am going through seven years of my life so I guess that’s what happens.
Yesterday I ended with Hazelnut’s passing and how that set up so many other things that have happened since. So to continue with my story a few days later a neighboring farm offered us another Jersey which we went and saw and then got that weekend, and I named her Acorn. And even though it was still very soon after it happened Acorn did help to make it a bit better. A little while after that, with a few months of practicing with Annabeth and Acorn I decided to claim another of the family farm’s Holsteins, mainly because a Holstein that was born at the time that I was helping to feed as I got more involved on the farm reminded me of a dog. So I registered her in my name, and I named her Bingo. During this time I also had begun to help feed the heifers and sometimes scrape off the floor if it got dirty when the cows came in before milking time. With all of this happening it gave me a bit less time to work with my show cows, but I made it work.
Eventually we had to tell the family that gave us Hazelnut that she’d died, and they felt so bad that they let us have another one of their Jerseys for free. This one I names Lilly, and suddenly I had four show cows to bring to the fair that year, which is more than I’d ever had before. It was also my first fair that I ever got any big prizes in. Annabeth won Reserve Grand Champion Milking Shorthorn that year, and it was the first time that had ever happened for me, which was really exciting. So exciting in fact that I honestly don’t remember much else that happened that year.
Also during this time my other cows were getting older and it was time for them to start having calves. Unfortunately it turns out that Katy was born with or possibly developed over time a hormone problem, meaning we had to breed her nine times before she had her first calf. So then Jasmine was born, a fully white lineback which I thought was interesting. This was in November, and a few months later in March Eclipse had her first calf, Martha. Martha was a half Jersey and half Holstein, and usually our farm doesn’t keep those but we did for the first time. Primmy also had one like that, but we sold her calf to a farm close by, but I don’t really remember why we got rid of that one but kept Martha. So with these two in mind, along with Lilly still being of a small size, these three went with me to the fair that year. Nothing as exciting as the year before happened that year prize wise, but it was my first year as a Junior Superintendent, which I think I’ve mentioned before but in case I haven’t it just means that I helped the adults take care of the barn during the week, and I got to sleep in the barn. There were many stories that happened during that time, but I already feel that this post is going on really long, so I will begin part three with that tomorrow.
Mainly because I can’t think of anything else to write about today I decided to just go with a bit about what dairy farming means to me, but it might possibly turn into a rant because I don’t really know what I’m about to write…
So I probably have mentioned this before but I really got into dairy farming when I was in the eighth grade. It started the summer before when we stopped by the County Fair that would become my home for the next seven years of my life and I saw a few lineback cows that I believe I have also mentioned a few posts before. So a few months after that in February Katy was born and you could very easily say that my life was changed forever. Suddenly I was in the barn all the time with her, walking everywhere and going anywhere around the yard that we possibly could. Of course this was so long ago that there are many stories I could go into that I might not fully remember so I can’t really go into them.
But anyway after that first year and the first time I had a fair week and I loved it so much I decided to try to find more cows. Of course having a family farm full of Holsteins, they were what came next. This idea came to me shortly at the end of the fair, so of course August came next and a few weeks later Primrose was born. We shortened it down to Primmy after a while especially when she was bad, which when it came to walking and showing she was, and eventually we had to decide she just wasn’t a show cow and ended up not bringing her along to the fair the next time. But it was okay because there was still Katy and a few months later in October another Holstein was born that I decided I wanted to show, Eclipse (yes that Eclipse). So she joined my show cow group and she actually could figure out how to do it and became my third cow but my second show cow. Then one of my mom’s friends that she works with who was also a dairy farmer with a farm full of Jerseys which they sold to us. So then I had Hazelnut, my third show cow.
With those four cows/three show cows we went to the second fair of my life, which was as good as the first time. Once again there was many adventures that I can’t fully go into again because it was so long ago (maybe I have too much information in my head I don’t really know haha). Then August came again and we found out about a cow auction at a different county fair close by, and though it was unplanned we came home with my first Milking Shorthorn, Annabeth.
After all of this it was about the end of 2013, October specifically, and then through no fault of anyone in the barn, we lost Hazelnut. No one really knows what happened, only that we came in and she was lying on the floor. It was the day before Halloween and the next day she was gone. It was the first time anyone or anything close to me had died. I’ve been lucky in the aspect that I never lost a human close to me, and until recently I hadn’t lost a house dog or cat that I could remember. So this turned out to be an actually very important thing for me, even though it was terrible and I’ll never forget it until the day that I die. But I know now that it happened for a reason, because if it hadn’t so many things that have happened since probably wouldn’t have, and I know that God knew that. It might’ve taken me six or seven years to realize this, but I think that’s okay and that it might’ve had to happen that way. But anyway I feel like I’ve been going on about this a long time so I’m going to stop now, and just say that part two comes tomorrow.
Well I’m still not sure really if it’s a good thing or bad thing that today was my last ever Open Class show. I mean I don’t really know that about this fair week in general. I do know that I am super tired and I am definitely ready to be able to sleep at ten o’clock or before if I want to.
But anyway today was what one might call a pretty successful showing day. The one goal I decided to have for this week was for my Jersey calf, Hazel, who happens to be the granddaughter of Eclipse who died a week and a half ago exactly, to beat at least one cow in her class. Mainly because with my Jerseys this has only happened I think once before in my seven years at the fair. This also happens to be exactly what happened so I decided right then and there that no matter what my other cows got, I got what I wanted for the week.
But I didn’t really need to worry about that. Sammy was the only one in her class so she got first in her class and Rory got third out of three in her class but neither of them did anything more than that. This is okay though because they still get the ribbons to hang above them for the rest of the week and we’re still able to say they got first and third.
And then there was my Milking Shorthorn, Charlie. She definitely didn’t walk her best today, so much so that the judge even noticed and said she wasn’t doing herself justice. Even with that he still liked her and Charlie ended up winning Reserve Junior Champion. I have to admit I was a bit surprised because I thought some of the others looked better than her, but hey I’m not complaining, and I don’t really know all that much about judging anyway. This is also the second Reserve Champion I ever got that wasn’t simply given because there was only one or two of the breed at the fair. And the last time just happened to be Annabeth, otherwise known as Charlie’s mother, and this was four years ago.
So even though Charlie didn’t walk as good as I would’ve liked and I’m now debating whether or not to use her for showmanship tomorrow like I had originally planned, it was still a great day. I also spent part of my evening playing Uno and a game called Flinch with one of my favorite fellow fair families/friends ever which I enjoyed a lot. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow with my last 4-H show ever will bring me.
What many people don’t know if they aren’t involved in the dairy industry, well really in the showing part of the dairy industry, is that there are many different breeds of dairy cows. For a while there were six well known ones, those being Holstein, Jersey, Milking Shorthorn, Brown Swiss, Ayrshire, and Guernsey. Just recently they’ve added Lineback and sometimes even Dutch Belt to the mix.
Each breed has some different quality that defines them among the rest. Holstein of course are the most well known, them being the most common black and white cows. Jerseys are the second most well known. They’re the second most common cow as far as I know, and they’re also the smaller brown ones. I also think they’re the smallest cow as far as I know, but don’t anyone quote me on that. I do know that they have some of the highest butterfat in their milk. This mainly means that the milk is thicker and also the best for making ice cream and cheese. Guernseys are another one with high butterfat, but I’m afraid that’s all I really know about them besides the fact that they are yellowish and white.
Besides those few the only ones I really know the most about are Milking Shorthorns and Linebacks, them being the cows I have the most of. Milking Shorthorns are typically red mostly all over, but sometimes they can also be white which I actually find fascinating, mainly because I’ve never seen one. Then there all the Linebacks. I’ve mentioned them a few times, and even though I’ve known about them and had them for around six years now they’re still amazing to me. Linebacks can be red, or black, or completely white, and sometimes they have spotted sides, or they can have fully colored sides. The only thing they really need to be qualified as a Lineback is a white line from their neck area to their tail. This is the main reason why they’re all so different and why they are by far my favorite breed of cow.
Well that’s a bit about the different dairy cow breeds, and if you want to know more I would suggest googling them, or visiting your local county fair if you have one and find some farmers with some of the other breeds that can tell you more about the ones I don’t know much about.