WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Before they had their time in the show ring at the Muscatine County Fair Grounds, students from across the county participating in 4-H and FFA programs have worked for months to prepare many types of animals to compete. While students showing dairy goats exhibited, others readied themselves and their animals for a broad sampling of different events.
In the sheep barn, Muscatine FFA members, Eladiee Gaucin (a ninth grader), Addie Weggen (a sophomore), and Ava Daufeldt (a Muscatine High School graduate) prepared for their competitions on Saturday, July 25. Addie, who brought a sheep to show for the first time, enjoyed all the hours of work that went into preparing for the fair. “I really liked being responsible for the sheep,” she reflected. “I like doing chores.” Since her lamb’s birth in March, Addie has bathed her, combed her fluffy coat, and sheered her to keep her comfortable in the summer heat.
As someone experienced in raising sheep, Daufeldt found that, going into her third year of competition, she had come to appreciate getting to know each of her sheep’s personalities. “they’re all so different from each other,” she said, noting that her Dorset sheep had a very stubborn personality while her Hampshire Suffolk mix behaved quite docilly.
Eladiee agreed with Daufeldt, as she had fun getting to know her very first sheep, Chance. Eladie most liked, “just getting to know her and her personality and having little funny moments with her.”
Meanwhile, sixth grader Savannah Finley looked forward to showing a pig for a second year in a row. “I did a pig last year and I really liked it,” she stated. For the past five months, Savannah has cared for her pig, George, helping him get ready for the fair by walking him daily, feeding and watering him, and cleaning him up before showing him. Savannah hoped George would place well this year, and definitely plans to show pigs again in the future.
Though tending cattle presents a big task, sixth grader Kaylin Paul felt up to showing a bucket calf for a second year in a row. Kaylin started bottle feeding her calf, Missy, shortly after her birth in April and has worked with her since then to get her in top shape for the fair. Raising a bucket calf takes a lot of time, but Kaylin always looked forward to, “being able to be with her because I love cows–they’re so cute!” she beamed. Because 4-H and FFA students can show returning bucket calves as well, Kaylin plans to continue working with Missy for the 2023 Muscatine County fair too.
Kaylin’s older sister, Kensley Paul, also had plans to show not one but three cows in the cattle events on Friday, July 22, Rosie, a returning bucket calf and a 2021 reserve champion, as well as Janie and Butchie. Though beef cattle grow into quite large animals weighing well over 1,000 pounds, Kensley likes showing then because of their easygoing personalities: “I like how friendly they are. They like back scratches, and they like to lick me for some reason.” Because Kensley’s cattle had all halter broken fairly easily, she believed they had the potential to earn high honors at this year’s fair.