Baltimore County Fair Day 2: 7/14/17

I got to the fairgrounds at 9:00am and started off by dumping out wheelbarrow full of poop from the goats and Jen’s cows. Once the stall were clean I put food into all the goats pens, except for Sparky, who was Jordan’s responsibility. While the goats were eating I noticed that Ellsa had a poop stain on her back. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have bothered me but since I was showing her I needed to clean her off immediately. Once she was washed again I started to dry her off only to realize that I have 15 minutes before I need to be in the show ring so I get Donna to finish drying Ellsa while I changed into my showmanship attire (a white polo and khaki pants.) Once I was changed I dried Ellsa off one more time then walked up to the ring.

The obligatory showmanship attire mirror picture

Going into the ring I felt pretty confident. I was making consistent eye contact with the judge and I was able to answer her questions but by the time I got to the end of the show I got tired and started slipping. At one point Ellsa was standing diagonally, which is exactly what you don’t want during showmanship. In the end I did fairly well, I came in third place out of five people. Jordan unsurprisingly came in first place for both our class and he won Grand Champion for Meat Goat Showmanship. The judge commented on my lack of energy at the end of the show, which taught me something that I never considered to be a part of showmanship, eating a good breakfast. My breakfast left me feeling sluggish and I didn’t get as much sleep as I would like and those two things combined definitely did not help with my lack of energy in the ring. Another thing this brought up is how I have to practice my showmanship more. If I want to do better than Jordan at Hereford Junior Farm Fair or at the Baltimore County 4-H Fair next year then I need to be putting in more time with my goats. The judge also thought I was wearing tennis shoes in the ring, which is a big no-no so while talking about the placement she said “It seems like some people decided to wear sneakers into the show ring.” I can’t be 100% sure that this didn’t affect how I was scored so in future shows I should get some nice western boots for the ring.

A picture of me walking Ellsa in the ring during the meat goat show. Courtesy of Baltimore County 4-H’s instagram.

After I left the ring I put Ellsa back in her pen and waited till the buck classes were over to grab Eve. When I showed Eve in the Doe 3 years old class, which is a class for goats born from September 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014, I came in third place. This isn’t too bad because the first and second place does looked much better in terms of muscle mass. One thing that was interesting about this judge is that she allowed us to use halters instead of show chains, which isn’t usually the case but since Eve is easier to walk on a chain I just rolled with it.

When Donna handed me Scarlett for the Doe 2 year old class the only thing she told me was that Scarlett was in heat so I had to hold on for dear life and try to avoid touching her hind legs. That caused some problems in the show ring because part of setting up your goat is making sure that their legs are in the right position. Scarlett doesn’t like to have her hind legs touched to begin with so every I tried to set her up she would jump and run around in a circle. At one point Donna yelled from the side of the ring “You need to set her up so the judge can see her,” which I tried to do but she just kept jumping around. At one point the judge put Scarlett and I at the front of the line, which means that she thought Scarlett should place first, but then she moved me to second place. When she was explaining her choice her reasoning was basically that Scarlett was never set up well enough for her to tell if my animal was better than the animal in first place. This just goes to show that I need to be spending more time up at the barn with the goats.

Showing Ellsa in the Intermediate Doe Kid class went seamlessly. In fact, Ellsa came in first for her class, which was exciting. After Ellsa was awarded the first place ribbon for Intermediate Doe Kid, she had to compete against all the other does that won their respective age groups. Unfortunately, Ellsa lost out to a three year old doe but the judge said that she has a lot of promise when she gets older, which is a good sign.

As soon as I left the show ring I left Ellsa with Shelby, another 4-H et that shows beef steers and swine so I could grab Eve for the Dam and Daughter class. As I was slipping the halter over Eve’s head Shelby brought Eve back to the pens because the other contestants dropped out of Dam and Daughter so I automatically won.

After putting Eve and Ellsa back in their pens I helped with the last fair tour. It was a group of 30 or so kids in early elementary school and their four chaperones. When we were showin them the animals they had a lot of questions, which seemed to be a theme for the tour. During the indoor exhibit section of the tour the kids had so many questions about how to enter exhibits to the fair and they also needed to constantly be reminded not to touch the entries.

After The tour wrapped up I watches the pig show with Caroline and Santana. I’m glad Santana was there because she’s shown swine before so she explained to us what was going on. Apparently swine judges will sometimes kick sawdust from the show pen onto the animal to see how fast the 4-Her brushes it off. Since Santana is a was telling us about all the different animals she shown (she shown every animal possible except for alpacas and goats) and her favorite animals to show. She talked about how she would love to start leasing her cattle to 4-Hers but since she’s at college it is a bit more difficult for her to start a leasing project. I threw my name into the hat for people who could potentially lease animals because she knows I’m interested and responsible.

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Left to right: Santana, Caroline, and I watching the swine show. 

After the swine show I walked over to the scarecrow building contest only to realize that the scarecrows were being judged Saturday morning instead of being due Saturday morning. I of course had left all my scarecrow building materials at home

Once I returned to the fairgrounds Caroline and I got to work. I took one pair of tights and stuffed them with straw. Then I shoved the hay into the bottom until it formed feet, legs, and eventually a torso. Caroline made the arms and head but the tights were so long that the arms dragged down to the knees. In order to fix this problem we tied part of the arm to itself and crossed the arms, which made the arms look less ridiculous. Once the scarecrow was in scrubs we tied him to a pole so he could stand up. In my humble opinion I think my scarecrow will come in first place because it looks the best and you can tell what it is immediately but I guess I’ll have to see what the judges say.

The scarecrow’s body before clothes.

The finished product

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Baltimore County Fair Day 1: 7/13/17

My first day at the fair was off to an interesting start. I left my banner for my stall at home so I had to drive home to get it.

The reason I had to get a banner for my stall is so that I would be eligible for the Herdsman award. This award is given to the 4-Her whose stall is the cleanest for the duration of the fair. As is written on the Baltimore County 4-H fair website: “Each category is worth 10 points each. Exhibitors’ areas will be judged approximately 3 times per day unannounced, at any time of the day, by unbiased individuals as well as the Dept. Superintendents. The scores from each day will be totaled at the end of the fair and the winner will be announced. Exhibitor’s name must be clearly identified to be judged.

Judging Criteria:

1. Cleanliness and care of Animal

2. Cleanliness of Bedding

3. Cleanliness of Feed/Tack Area & Central Aisle

4. Attractiveness of Exhibitor’s assigned area

5. Breed Promotion / Educational Display

6. Assigned area and Display identified with exhibitor’s name”

Once I got back to the fairgrounds and set up my stall I went over to the indoor exhibits to see how I did. All of my Arts and Hobbies entries came in first through third place, which is great, but my livestock educational poster didn’t do well at all. Since I have one more year in 4-H I want to try and get either Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion in an indoor exhibit next year. While I was with my indoor exhibits I also turned in my bucket of junk. Bucket of junk is a contest to see who can make the most interesting thing with a bucket of random objects. I made a ski slope using all the objects and personally I think I’ll get first place because mine looked super cool in comparison to all the rest of the entries.

My Bucket of Junk entry

After I finished looking at the indoor exhibits, I helped other 4-Hers get their pigs down to the washing pens. In order to make sure the pigs don’t escape you use pig boards to herd the pigs in the right direction. Since I had never worked with pigs before this was a real learning experience. If there is even a slight gap in the boards then a pig will stick its nose through and escape. You also have to hold the board firmly so that the pig doesn’t try to push you over. Once I got the hang of it it was pretty easy to work with the pigs. This is actually one of the reasons I want to have a market swine project next year; a pig will push me to be a better showman because its a large animal and I want a new challenge.

Once all the pigs were washed and put back in their pens I helped Jen wash her cows. I worked with Lucy, her older Charolais heifer since she is more willing to work with people. I just used a scrub brush with dawn soap to clean her off. I paid special attention to the neck because Charolais are white so when they sweat their necks have an orangish tine. In fitting and showing it is as much about how well you show the animal as it is about how clean your animal is. I also scrubbed the hooves to get some dirt out. While Jen was drying off her heifers I grabbed some lunch because thats not really a two person job.

After I ate lunch I washed and blow dried the goats so they would be ready for showmanship tomorrow morning. I started off by washing Eve, who wasn’t happy to get wet, Even though Eve was making a lot of noise and trying to run away from the water she wasn’t nearly as bad as Scarlett, who would run under the wash racks so much that her halter got messed up. Scarlet still wasn’t letting me touch her legs so it was difficult to wash her and blow her out. Washing and drying Ellsa was a breeze, especially since she’s to small to run away from me. After everyone was washed and dried and back in their pens I went home to study my goat anatomy for showmanship.

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7/4/17

I started off my day by cleaning around the round bale. I moved the soiled hay away from the bed and put it into the wheelbarrow. Although this task isn’t time consuming it takes a lot of physical strength and I was exhausted by the time I took the wheelbarrow to the pile of soiled hay.

Once the lower pasture was clean I walked Eve. She was uncooperative as usual but eventually we got into a rhythm .After I successfully got her to walk a few laps I put Eve on the stanchion and started walking Scarlett.

Scarlett was being her usual uncooperative self. Every time I touched her tail she would walk around in a circle and end up in the exact opposite position in relation to where I wanted her to be. After a few laps of this I put Scarlett on the stanchion so I could brush her fur.

Brushing Eve is a lot easier than walking her because she knows how to behave on the stand and he doesn’t jump when I touch her. I brushed Eve until her fur shined and the chunks of dirt were dislodged from her fur. After Eve was looking spick and span I put her back in her pen.

Walking Ellsa was a breeze. She’s the most cooperative and she’s so small that when I always have the option to pick her up. After walking Ellsa a few times I washed her off. Since Donna spent her time helping Megan and Maddie with their goats that we didn’t have time to wash Ellsa. Once Ellsa was washed and dried I brushed her to loosen knots in her fur. When Ellsa’s grooming was complete Donna took a headshot of her for the Baltimore County Fair.

After Ellsa’s headshot I brushed Scarlett and Donna took Scarlett headshot photo as well. Once everybody was clean and fair ready I went home to study my goat anatomy.

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7/1/17: The Advantage Sheep and Goat Clinic 

The day started off pretty hectic as most things pertaining to goats do. I had to help Donna and Jordan get the six goats into their halters and load them into the cab of Donna’s truck. The first time we tried to load goats on Gabby and Holly got into the truck but then they jumped out and ran away. The second time around we got all the goats in with their halters on so Jordan and I hopped into the cab and took off all their halters. Once we were on the highway we realized that we left the water buckets at home so we decided get some from the Walmart.

When we were about ten minutes away the cab of the truck started fogging up so we had to pull over, hop into the cab and slide the windows open so the goats can get some air. As we continued on our way we somehow made a left instead or a right and drive to far down. Once we made a u-turn and retraced our steps we finally got to the York Fairgrounds. We met up with Kerry and her daughters Maddie and Megan who are also showing goats. Since their goats are sick they’re showing Jordan’s goats as well.

The first part of the session was lamb fitting and washing. This was very interesting, if you are showing a market or lamb so Donna, Jordan, and I were sitting through this. I feel like I learned a lot during this portion, although I don’t think that leasing a lamb is in my future. At the end of the portion focused on how to get your lamb showmanship ready they showed us how to use a blending blade.

Stock Show U instructors explain how to groom a market lamb

The lamb after grooming

After the lamb portion of the show we went over goat fitting and showing. This had a large emphasis on meat goats, which was somewhat helpful but it wasn’t what we had in mind. Once the lecture was over everybody went over to their pens and started washing and grooming their animals. Washing Scarlett was an ordeal. She kept trying to run away and twisting her halter. Eventually I got her washed off and proceeded to dry her off. I washed Ellsa relatively quickly then I watched Megan and Maddie shave their goats. After about an hour of fitting we broke for lunch. We discussed the upcoming fairs and whether or not I would be showing my goats.

 

Ellsa and co in their pen

 

After lunch I worked on shaving Scarlett. This is easier said than done because once we tried to use the medium blending blade, which was recommended by the instructors, her fur looked choppy because her fur was super thick. What Donna and I did to decrease the choppiness is was use a big blade to get the hair to be a bit thinner than go over it with a medium blending blade. As we were working a rain storm hit us and started pounding on the barn. The storm cooled the fairgrounds down, which was a nice change of pace and it made the animals more cooperative.

Once the program ended we started loading up all the goats. For the most part the goats hopped into the truck but Holly was bleating the whole time because she hates being in the car. Once the goats were situated in the cab of the truck we said out goodbyes and made our way back to Donna’s house.

The goat after the fitting demonstration

The goat after the demonstration of how to use adhesive to blend a goat’s coat

The ring where we listened to the lecture

The side of the goat that wasn’t blended using adhesive

Scarlett post bath and blow out

One of the goats in the bed of the truck

 

 

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6/25/17

Two of the goats were napping when I walked in


Today I was only working with the goats for an hour so not much happened. I started off by walking Eve. Since the path was recently sprayed with weed killer, I decided to walk Eve around the ferns. I started off by walkin her with the show chain because I didn’t have much time and she was very uncooperative. She would zigzag instead of walking in a straight line and when I tried to set her feet up she would move her feet out of position. After 15 minutes of this u started working with Scarlett. 
Scarlett was only slightly better than Eve. I got her to walk around the ferns three or four times before she sat down. 

Ellsa on the other hand, was walking beautifully. I didn’t need to have her in the halter while I was using the show chain and she would walk well most of the time. Ellsa even let me set up her feet correctly without protest. I’m definitely going to use Ellsa for showmanship at the Herford Junior Farm Fair because she is the easiest to show. When I put the halter on Ellsa so she could walk for exercise she hated it. I’m thinking that I’ll just walk Ellsa with the chain all the une because she is doing quite well with it. 

Ellsa walking sans halter


Once I was done walking Ellsa I got her some treats. Eve and Scarlett got their treats when I was putting the halter on them so they were fine on the treat front. All the other goats in the bigger pen swarmed around Ellsa to get food so I tried feeding her out of my hand. Hand feeding Ellsa was going well except that Belle kept head butting Ellsa so she could get the treat. Eventually I poured the treats in a bowl so everyone could fight over them. Once I saw that the goats were fed I made sure that the pens were closed then I went on my way. 

Goats fighting over treats

Scooter!

 

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6/24/17

My visit today was off to a good start. I walked Ellsa around the path once but since she wasn’t being cooperative I decided to walk Ellsa twice. After Ellsa was walked using the halter, I practiced showing her.

Ellsa walked 5 laps consecutively, which is the most she’s ever done and I barely had to use the chain to get her to move forward. I’m so happy that she’s making so much progress because I feel like there isn’t as much work to be done before the fair showmanship wise.

Once Ellsa was finished with showmanship I put her up on the stanchion to brush her. Apparently the more you brush a goat the shinier it’s coat gets and now that there’s a possibility of PETA harassing me at the county fair I have to make sure the goats look their best. On Thursday, we had a meeting at the fairgrounds about the potential for PETA “activists” to show up and protest 4-H and FFA because they see the treatment of animals at fair to be inhumane. In order to better understand their point of view I went onto PETA’s website. They feel like animals aren’t exercised enough and that they get incredibly stressed out at fairs, which is false. Everybody that I’ve met in 4-H works very hard to make sure their animals are treated well and I think that a big part of 4-H is instilling a sense of responsibility to make the world a better place and to take good care of your animals.

 

Ellsa posing after I brushed her.

 

Once Ellsa was brushed I tied her up in the pasture and grabbed Scarlett. All the rain means that the goats are getting more parasites that usual so we had to deworming all of our goats. There are two different solutions that Donna used Safe-guard on Scarlett and the bigger goats because when she sent their feces in for parasite screening they had a different worm than the younger goats. Ellsa was next to be dewormed. She along with the rest of the younger goats were given another type of deworming agent orally. Once Ellsa had her medicine I released her and started to walk Scarlett.

For whatever reason, Scarlett was a pain to walk. She would zigzag when she walked and every time I touched her tail instead of walking forward like she usually did she would walk in a circle and yank the halter so much that the nose strap ends up on her eyelid. Eventually I got her back to the pens. I grabbed a harness and worked on showmanship outside of the pen. Showmanship was alright, but it wasn’t as good as showmanship for Ellsa.

Once I finished working with Scarlett I captured Eve using a handful of treats and walked her using the halter. After out walk I attempted to do showmanship with Eve but she was less than cooperative. Eve is the most stubborn of my goats and although I got her to walk a lap or two I didn’t spend an extensive amount of time trying to get her to walk.

Today’s chore was stripping the hay in the lower pasture. The hay is outside the bed for the goats and it’s gotten pretty soiled in the past few weeks. As Jordan and I were shoveling hay onto the tractor the goats were milling around and at one point Dasher jumped into the tractor and started munching on hair. As you can see in the picture below, the loader attachment was getting pretty full and we didn’t want Dasher to get stuck or hurt when we emptied the hay from the tractor.

 

Dasher in the loader attachment on the tractor

After we emptied out all the hay we put in a round bale. The bale was pretty heavy so we added an attachment to move the bale. Once the bale was in the right position on the pallet we wrapped a piece of wire fencing around the bale so that it wouldn’t fall apart when we removed the strings from the bale. Removing the strings was fairly straightforward; we used a pocket knife to cut the string and just pull on one side till the whole string slides out. After I finished my chore I talked with Donna as I walked back to my car. She said that if I’m still interested in showing livestock next year I will be able to raise a market goat and market swine, which would be a great way to end my 4-H career.

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6/17/17

When I walked up to the barn I was greeted by very hungry goats. Donna hadn’t yet returned from the store so I ignored them and walked through the gate. As I quickly closed the gate behind me in order to prevent Belle and a few of the more curious goats from escaping, I noticed that Peanut and Scooter were standing on top of their block.

After that cute distraction, I captured and then proceeded to walk Eve. Eve bleated and complained the whole time we were walking as usual but by the time we got into the woods she was running to get back into her pen. I attempted to walk her up and down the path that goes behind the barn but she wasn’t walking well. This is a bit worrying to me because the fair is in a month and I want to do well in showmanship. Although I’m working with the goats twice a week, I am ofter reminded of what I am missing out on by not living with my animals. In the next few weeks I’ll visit the goats three or four times a week and that will make me feel better about showman ship but not as good as I would feel if I worked with the goats every day.

Eve sitting down because she didn’t want to be walked

Putting Scarlett into her halter is usually the easiest part of the day, at least once I catch her. Today she was right by the fence as I was returning Eve to the pen so I just grabbed her horn and slipped the halter over her head. Walking Scarlett was incredibly easy and she was walking well, which was a nice change of pace. When I finished walking Scarlett, I let her eat while I worked with the pigs.

I practiced using a pig stick to lead the pigs around the show ring. Initially, I wasn’t tapping them hard enough to get them to move but after Donna showed me the right amount of force to use in order to get the pigs to listen without hurting them. After some practice I was able to corral the pigs up the hill so Donna could move the truck without worrying about hitting any of the pigs with her truck.

The pigs after I chased them behind their pen

After Scarlett was fed I worked on showmanship with her. Thankfully, showmanship was relatively uneventful other than Scarlett’s usual attempts to remove her head from the chain. I’m slightly relieved that my goats are shaping up because I really want to do well in showmanship and this year I’ll be competing with senior 4-H  members, which include kids who have been showing goats since they were right years old.

Today I only walked Ellsa because Donna wanted to do some deep cleaning now that the weather is holding up. Ellsa is by far the best when it comes to showmanship so I’m not concerned that she’ll regress if I don’t practice showmanship once. 

Ellsa looking at the fields on the pat. The sunlight looked so cool that I didn’t even edit this picture.


We started off by stripping the stalls, which is a disgusting task because all the goats pee in their bedding. This just makes the bedding soggy, musty, and incredibly heavy so it takes forever to strip the stall. We then put hay bales in the stall so that we don’t need to worry about more hay getting ruined by the weather. We also organized the feed and harnesses as well. 

After the stalls were stripped I put hay into the feeders and onto the barn floor. For the goats in the lower patch we used some of the hay from the big bale but we made sure that the hay wasn’t moldy or anything. Once all the feeders were full we moved all the goats to the lower patch. Initially a lot of the goats walked down to the lower patch but Dasher, Scooter, and Selena were completely oblivious. I successfully chased Dasher and Scooter into the lower pen but Selena was more difficult to move. Selena was sitting in a shady corner and was very reluctant to move. I even touched her tail but she was still unbothered. Finally, I just grabbed a horn with one hand ant her tail with the other and she finally moved to the lower patch. 

Once all the goats were adjusted to their new living situation, I removed dirty hay from the feeder outside of the barn. As we were lifting up the board from the feeder we found two toads that were living under the feeder. Once the hay was replaced in that feeder we sprinkled lime on the inside of the barn stalls and the land outside of the stall that’s is all dirt. Once the stalls were spotless, except for the dusting of lime I went home. I was incredibly dusty and tired yet I was happy to see that my work with the goats is paying off. 

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