Friday, August 27, 2010

Dairy Show Time!

For the past three days now we've been at the barn where the kids are leasing their dairy heifers and trying to get ready for the state dairy show, ugh! I say ugh, but really it's a wonderful learning experience for all of us. First off, none of us can get over how fast these girls have grown! WOW! So much so that when we walked into the barn we didn't recognise them at first, we had to check the ear tags to make sure, we couldn't believe our eyes. Then, the second day they needed to wash them. I don't know how many of you have ever washed a cow; much less a young heifer; but it was about as easy as nailing jello to a tree! I sincerely hope it gets easier as they get older, but at this point I'm thinking it'll be more like trying to wrangle an octopus! That being said, we had a nice time and the heifers were as patient as I could expect them to be given the lack of experience on all counts.

Andrew heads in first to spray them down.

Faith has just realized how much poop can be stuck to one heifer... and I don't think she was impressed...

Oddly enough Andrew's heifer was reasonably clean, ironic since he is a living, breathing Pigpen, (from the Charlie Brown comic strip!!! Literally!) but he's happy and I'll bet he gives his immune system a run for it's money! Oi vey!

Nope, not impressed. We had no carding comb, so it was picking off the dingle berries with our fingernails and/or scrubbing them off with the brush. We found a combination of both worked nicely, it just took a long time. I asked her if she wanted to do this again next year, fully thinking she'd say no, as this really was more Andrew's 'cup of tea' and his idea. Her response shocked me, she said "Yes!" but with that preteen attitude that had just a hint if 'Duh Mom' in it.

Soaking the switch (the proper name for the fluffy part of the tail) really seemed to help loosen the dingle berries, too bad we couldn't soak the entire cow!

As I mentioned above, Andrews heifer was markedly clean compared to Faiths, so he had a bit more time to walk her around and practice as if he were in the show ring. I was glad to get this picture of him, I think it's pretty much the essence if Andrew: working with his cow, on a farm, covered from head to toe, grinning from ear to ear.

I think he was 'setting her up', but in all likelihood he was probably "heifer whispering."

Finally! We get to the rinse down and not a dingle berry in sight. Let me tell you that took a particular mindset and a whole lot of determination!

It's late in the day but Faith was able to get in a bit of practice, it didn't go as well as Andrew's did, but this heifer was tired and had had ENOUGH! Faith is not as confident as Andrew and gets frustrated easier, but was able to take a breath and get relaxed enough to get a bit of 'good practice' in and ended on a good note. This heifer is also a few months older, a great deal larger and pushier. I'm sure once Faith gets to practice without her having just been maxed out things will go as smooth as they had previously. It's a nice confidence builder for her that's certain.
The show is Monday morning and it's the state show, not a 4-H show. I missed the deadline for that, and I was very upset with myself, but it just hadn't made it to the top of my priority list at that time. This show will have more competition than a 4-H show but the kids are so excited anyway and it doesn't matter to them how many people there will be, they are just happy to be able to try it. We'll be at the fairgrounds most of Sunday and Monday with the barn that owns the cows helping them do what all they need us to help with, I'm assuming we'll be on poop scooping duty again and possibly washing, brushing, grooming, feeding, etc. So it will be interesting for sure.
Oh! I forgot to mention that today the kids got to learn how to clip the heifers! I'm not kidding when I say that after washing for three hours the previous day and clipping for about an hour and a half today these kids are dedicated! I took pictures, but because if the lighting in the barn and the movement of the heifer and all they didn't come out well so I opted not to post them. I know I learned a lot about this whole process (and it's not even my project!), so I'm sure the kids did too. Now I'm off to iron the 'dairy whites' that they need to wear in the show. I'm not sure who's bright idea it was to choose a white shirt and pants to wear while having anything to do with a cow, but it is what it is, right? Talk about about crazy, don't they know cow poop splatters!

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So what's the view from your world about that? I'd enjoy hearing it.