By Judy Sheridan
A small band of Aledo 4-Hers, led by Lisa Scott, competed in livestock judging events planned for Parker County Frontier Days, which took place on the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Grounds in Weatherford June 12-15.
The Extra interviewed four members of the club Thursday to find out what they showed, how they did and what they liked and didn’t like about the process.
James Gilstrap, 9, won a reserve grand champion award in the egg production category, where a trio of chickens are judged according to how well they fit their breed’s standard (Australorps, in this case) in size, color and other characteristics, members said.
James also showed a dairy goat, a lamb and a turkey.
“If you don’t win, you get to eat it, and it tastes good,” he said, explaining the perks. The down side: getting up before school — at 5 a.m. — to do chores.
His sister Leah, 12, was happy to have made the livestock sale for the first time. She did it with a lamb, a meaty 82-pound hair (not wool) sheep called a Dorper, a breed new to the show this year.
Leah’s lamb, which she got from a Weatherford breeder in November, took second place. She said half the class made the livestock sale.
Leah also showed a standard single chicken, a single Bantam chicken, junior and senior dairy goats and hen and tom turkeys.
It’s all about the animals for Leah, who has already shed a few tears over losing the lamb, according to her mother, Mary.
“I like raising lambs and milking dairy goats,” she said. “It’s fun when they have babies. They’re so playful and cute.”
Holding turkeys? Not so much fun.
“They’re 50 pounds, and you have to hold them upside down by their feet for a couple minutes,” she said. “I got blisters.”
Leah’s funniest moment raising animals came a couple years ago, she said, when a female goat jumped atop a pool cover ... and promptly fell into the pool.
Sixteen-year-old Michaela Scott, state livestock ambassador, county ambassador and president of the Aledo 4H Club, was still waiting to show her Hampshire cross gilt (an unbred female pig) Thursday morning.
Earlier in the week she had nailed down the grand champion award for egg production with a trio of Leghorns, won reserve champion show standard for a Blue Maran cock and taken a fifth place in showmanship.
Michaela said pigs must be taught to hold their heads up and walk straight. They don’t like to be restrained by their faces, so halters are not used.
Pig sticks are used for control instead, she said, using soft, medium and hard taps. Michaela’s mother, Lisa, said the taps mean ask, tell and spank, in the same sequence a parent might use to train a child.
Michaela said her pig — unnamed for good luck — is responsive to very gentle taps.
“I like the experience it gives me,” she said, when asked what she enjoys about showing. “I like taking responsibility and seeing how it comes out.”
Getting nervous before the show is one of the hard parts, Michaela said, along with managing an animal’s weight.
“You have to know how much to feed when to get to the ideal weight [at the right time],” she said. “We weighed every week on Sunday and wrote it on a white board.”
Michaela’s best animal tale comes from her seventh grade year in the Millsap FFA, when her pig ran through her ag teacher’s legs, flipping him into the air and breaking his finger.
“He was trying to block her — to weigh her — and she was used to eating dinner and then going to bed,” she said.
Josh Burg, 10, took a third place in poultry showmanship. He showed a Blue Cochin Bantam cockerel and a pullet of the same breed this year, his third.
“I like getting to pet and hold the chickens,” he said, showing how they must be cradled in the crook of an exhibitor’s arm. “The hardest part is keeping them from flying and jumping away.”
Other Aledo 4H club members are Blaze Mayes, who showed a market goat, and Mackenzie Daniels, who won awards for reserve champion junior doe, grand champion senior doe, reserve champion senior doe and 1st junior in breeding dairy goat showmanship.
The Aledo 4H Club meets monthly on the second Monday. Children in the third grade and up are eligible to join. Another club, Clover Kids, accommodates younger children. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.