Family 4H Fun – Albemarle County Fair – Part VII
Valerie and Abel Pors learned how to raise sheep as part of their 4-H project. We are very pleased that they chose to use Countryside Feed. They worked very hard and did a great job and they learned a great deal. We are very proud of Valerie and Abel for all of their hard work!
Part VII – August 1, ’12
We have the official fair weights: Brownie was 135 lbs. and Chuck was 126 lbs., their ideal finishing weights.Brownie was checked by the fair vet and passed! We were very worried because the duration of soremouth is one to four weeks, and we only had two and a half for him to get better. In only two weeks and two days his symptoms appeared to be gone. We were so happy they both could go. In total there were six lambs at the fair– three sets of two lambs, each set with a brother and sister as owner. We showed first in the novice showmanship category, competing against each other since we were the only two in the class. We were very nervous, but it was much less intimidating than we thought it would be. The judge was very encouraging and positive. Valerie placed first because at the last minute she decided to lead Chuck without a halter. Abel placed a close second. Next was the market lamb category, judging the lamb rather than the owner’s showmanship. We competed against the other four lambs this time. Valerie placed fifth and Abel sixth. We expected this outcome, because we had bought market lambs instead of special show lambs, meaning that they had certain flaws (genetics or structurally incorrect etc.) that would keep them from being champions. Our main goal was to learn to raise healthy animals, so we had chosen the more economic option. Despite their imperfections, we got many comments from sheep farmers saying that they looked “great” and “very healthy.”
Finally it was time for the auction. The floor price was $1.30 per pound, and the bidding continued on a price per pound basis. The lambs were auctioned off in the order of their placing, so Chuck was the fifth to be auctioned. We didn’t expect to get too much because we hadn’t placed first, but boy were we wrong. Chuck started out getting a somewhat normal price, and it appeared that the bidding was just about over for him. That is, until one of the 4-H dads told the auctioneer that Chuck was raised on organic feed. Then the bids flooded in again! Chuck ended up getting around $4.85 per pound. Finally it was Abel’s turn with Brownie. The auctioneer announced that this was another organic lamb. The bids just kept coming and before we knew it Brownie sold for $5.85 per pound! This was record breaking for fifth and sixth place. We were blown away by everyone’s generosity.
Although it was very sad saying goodbye to Chuck and Brownie, the entire experience has been amazing. We learned more than we ever thought; we started out thinking sheep only ate grass, and if you just throw them onto your back yard you have a free lawn mower. That is seriously how ignorant we were. Now we have learned all about their balanced diet of roughage (hay and grass), grain and minerals, the care they need, how to give an animal a shot, their different personalities, hard work, responsibility and patience. Yes, I know, it all sounds really cheesy. But it’s all true. It was a tremendous project we took on starting from scratch and we are so proud that we did it. We would encourage others to try their hand at raising an animal as well. The 4-H is a great way to get involved, and a great way to have a limit on the length of the project if you just want a short-term trial. And it’s not just an extra thing to do–we believe it’s part of a well-rounded education. If nothing else, you will never look at meat in the grocery store the same way again. This project has given us a real appreciation for farmers– how intelligent and responsible they have to be, and all the hard work that goes into the job.
We are very thankful for Countryside Organics, and the superior feed and minerals they sell. We never had to worry that Chuck and Brownie weren’t getting the nutrition they needed. It was amazing to have a pre-mixed feed with vitamins, minerals and probiotics included. Organic feed is so scarce and it is so difficult to try to hand-mix a balanced feed. We want to thank them for providing a way to avoid soy products and genetically modified corn, as well as all the nasty pesticides that get into everything these days.
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