A boy and his calf
There is nothing better than putting a child and an animal together. Their reactions are priceless. My son Zach is taking a dairy starter calf for the first time to the Calhoun County Fair. He is 10 years old and in Michigan you can’t be a 4-H member until 9. He wasn’t quite ready last year for the animal project, but he is totally into it this year. Younger members of 5-8 years old can be a Cloverbud. This means they still can take craft projects to the fair and get many of the same benefits as a 4-Her but can’t get a premium check for their work or take animals. My girls are still in the Cloverbuds, my oldest daughter is 8 so she is very anxious to be a 4-H-er next year. But for now, she is doing her craft projects and helping her brother with his calf.
Zach named his calf Coyote Jr. With the dairy starter calf project, he has to take a young steer. They show the animal on Monday afternoon of fair week and then later in the week on Thursday, have the choice to sell the animal in the small animal auction. We do have a large animal auction but that is for the beef animals, pigs and sheep. We have told him that he is going to sell the animal because the money he makes will be put into his college fund. We think this is an important learning tool to not only take care of an animal and learn responsibility, but also to work hard to earn money and save it. We have no problem with him saving money; it will be the girls we have to teach more.
I am proud of Zach because he is very excited and eager to feed and walk his animal. I am glad that we waited the extra year for him to be ready. The fairs are a great place for the public to see how kids love agriculture and learn responsibility and craftsmanship. I hope that you have a chance to visit a fair this year and be able to support a child in their agricultural experience.