Saturday, July 24, 2010

My State Fair, Part II

As a would-be farm girl growing up, I have always loved farm animals--at lest in theory. Other than chickens, I've never had any, but most of my childhood friends did, and were active in 4-H. (For those who may not know, 4-H is a great program with its roots in the late 1890's farming communities in the U.S. It developed with the assistance of the U.S Agricultural Extension Service and grew up with the creation of the Cooperative Extension System in rural counties to become a nationwide program of hands-on learning, in local clubs, for rural youth.  Early on, corn growing contests and then cattle and swine shows were hallmarks. Soon after, canning, sewing, and other home arts were subjects which girls learned in 4-H. 

Prizes, such as trips to Chicago for the best in category cattle or pigs, motivated participation and learning.  In 1922, an Iowa girls Canning Club won a national competition and a trip to France, where they gave demonstrations.  My own 4-H participation focused on sewing, needle arts and nature/conservation.  This has turned into quite a tangent, as I enjoyed learning about the history of 4-H just now.  You can read more about 4-H at their website, here, or on the national headquarters (USDA) website, here.)

Ok, back from tangent.  So of course I visited all of the animals at the fair.  First were the sheep.  Most had had their final baths before competition and were dressed like they were headed to a Klan meeting. I wish I had had a video camera to show you a young man giving his big sheep her bath...they were both all full of suds and she was NOT cooperating very well. 
These adorable rams (I don't think they would want me calling them "adorable"--any young man would object) were trying to scrape the hoods off their heads.  Luckily they don't have wear them except right before judging.  The one came right over when I said "hey pretty boy" a couple of times.  I guess he gets called that at home!
Right next door were the swine.  This big girl was taking a rest after her trip in from the farm.  (I believe she is a mixed breed, as she doesn't match any of the standard breeds listed.)

I can identify these two: here, a Hampshire greets the Duroc-Jersey in the next pen...nose to nose, lots of snuffling and snorting involved.  I spared you any shots of the "boar" (males) full-length....I don't think anyone wants to look at an extra-large-grapefruit-sized scrotum stuck on the back end of a pig!
In the next pavilion, some of my favorites: the cattle. Here's a beautiful Holstein (spotted) and I believe the others are Belted Galloway (the cow lying down has a fuller white belt than the standing calf.)
Here's a scene that made me happy on all sorts of levels. These sisters had just arrived with their Holsteins and together, they were giving the big mamma her bath before settling her down in the show area. Joking and laughing as sisters do, they clearly were comfortable with the animals and were having fun.

One more from the cattle department: the world famous black Angus, among the best beef cattle around.  This family had several young bulls there to show.
And the last pavilion I visited (only last because the poultry was scheduled to come in beginning on Friday) was the one housing the goats.  I'm no goat expert; never even been a real fan of goats, but the brown and tan mother and baby were absolutely adorable together although hard to photograph because they kept moving around.  The first two photos show Pygmy goats.
These two gals were just cute, both needing to eat at the same time. I think they may be Turkish Angora goats, recently shorn. They looked like they had a fresh haircut, and I have searched for any other type which looks like them, to no avail.  (The fair rules only indicate that "all breeds" are shown together, so that wasn't helpful, either.)  There were also Boer goats, but I couldn't get a good photo of them.
Without the Poultry (which is really "big" around here), I can hardly say my livestock photos are complete, but I'm just not that broken up over its incompleteness to go back to the fair just to see the chickens. 

Stay tuned for my final installment, which does not include any photos of the "midway" or amusement rides.


  1. These photos are great and I love your descriptions! I knew about different breeds of cows, goats and even sheep (I think) but I did not realise pigs had different breeds too!

    That is very interesting about 4-H.

    My favourite photo is the first cow photo! Pretty moo-cow.


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