Sunday, August 7, 2011

In The Spirit of the County Fair

     It's been a while, hasn't it? I've been busy, I guess. It finally rained, things are looking more promising, the cows aren't chasing the pickup looking for feed, God is good. We're in the heart of county fair season. My boys are too old for 4-H, but I miss them showing. I miss helping them work with their animals, going on daily walks with steers and hogs, and, yes, even the stress involved with getting ready for the fair.
     I wanted to share a few photos of the El Paso County Fair with you. I don't think these kids will mind me using them in my blog. They're great kids--they remind me of my sons when it came to fair time--hard working, helping others, seeing what they could do to help out in any way. They're also in my 4-H club, so they are truly "my kids." I laugh with them, I cry with them, I coach them, I see them through their disappointments, I celebrate with them. And years from now, I get to reap the rewards if knowing I had a small part in their character-building process back then.
     Before we get to the kids, I wanted to talk a little about how I actually got involved in the "fair preparations" this year. I was headed out the door, running late as usual, trying to make the breeding shows at the fair. I had a couple of kids showing heifers and goats and wanted to be there by show time at 8:30 a.m. As I was leaving my yard, I happened to glance at the bathtub that Jake had buried a couple of years ago hoping the ducks would use it for a swimming hole. They don't. These ducks are afraid of water if they can't touch the bottom. Go figure. The dogs love the tub, however, because it does make a great swimming hole for them on triple-digit days. But I'm not sure where the chicken population figures in.
     I happened to see something in the tub and it wasn't a duck and it wasn't a dog--it was a chicken. She was just floating in that tub. I know chickens aren't the greatest swimmers. I was mesmerized at the county fair one year watching the poultry kids prepare their chickens for show. They stood them on five-gallon buckets, soaked to the last pin feather, and were blow drying the hapless hens. One of the poultry kids told me the chickens can't fly off the buckets when they're soaked. They were not, I repeat, NOT using steer blowers, although that might have been fun to watch. Hair dryers seemed to do the trick.
     So I plucked my water-logged hen out of the tub and knew I needed to dry her off. She was shivering uncontrollably and couldn't stand up. I'm not sure if she spent the night in that tub of water, but she was weak, cold (even though it was already 90 degrees), and had given up. I raced into the house and grabbed my hair dryer. About that time my husband drove through the yard and did a double-take. There I stood, hair dryer in hand, hen perched on a bucket, blow drying the egg producer. The more I dried, the prettier she became and the livelier she got. I knew this had to be working, but I also needed to hit the road to get to the show. I quickly finished the job, perched her in the sun next to a pan of water (to drink, not to swim), gave her a little grain, and headed to the fair. When I returned that night, she was running around, clucking like crazy. Success!

     See--4-H leaders can learn from their kids! I knew those demonstrations throughout the years would pay off if I just paid attention to content and not presentation only. Anyway, I wanted you to see the hen in the tub. Sorry I didn't get any photos of the finished product. I also wanted you to see the love of the kids and their 4-H animal projects.


  1. I love it Jean...Glad you took some time...great shots of the kids...and the hen;)

  2. I too, miss walking pigs getting them ready for show day! I also miss Emily showing. Someday soon maybe Tressie will follow in Mama and Daddy's 4-H footsteps. Glad you got some rain!!!