Hunting season


Mike with his first doe

Life has been incredibly busy.  Basketball, FFA competitions, 4H shooting club etc. 

The boys both got a deer this year, their first.

I was a reluctant chef since I helped butcher the carcass just hours before but I find the meat lean but tasty.


Daniel and his cousin after a Pheasant hunt


Mike and his best friend after hunting

I can’t say I enjoyed the pheasant as well.  VERY lean, tastes similar to turkey but dries out quickly.

I miss my blog!  I will be back more often.

Daniel with Squirt at Fair


Daniel in showmanship. Easy to find Squirt in a sea of black steer!

It was hard to not be disappointed this year.  Squirt looked really good in the few weeks leading to fair.

Even though it was Dans first year with a steer we had high hopes.  We knew Amanda’s steer wouldn’t place very high, despite all of our efforts we couldn’t get the weight on him.  

We had people approaching us in the barn complementing Squirt.  We knew he had a chance of placing very high.


Daniel walking Squirt in the show ring

Daniel ended up 8th in showmanship.  I would have loved him to get a higher ribbon.  But he was in a tough class with a lot of good showman.  It was the best I had ever seen him  work Squirt, so I was thrilled with him.

After showmanship we had a 5 hr break and then market class.  They judge the animal, not the kids in this class.  This was where my husband had very high hopes.  We thought there were only a few others in the barn that could beat him.

But, fair, like dog shows, all boil down to one man’s opinion.  It all rests with the judge. 

And Squirt ended up 5th.   Still a great showing, but a bit of a let down. 


Dan stroking Squirts belly with a show stick to keep him calm in the ring.

The week after fair the meat is judged.  Not every one attends this show.  To some it very hard to see their show animal as meat.  But in reality that is what these rural kids are doing.  Raising meat for consumption.

Dan was very pleased with the carcass show, he got second place.  (second place is often referred to reserve champion)


Reserve champion trophy



So, while Daniel did better with a dead steer then a living one,  it was
Still a very successful fair.


Fifth place in market class, eighth plass in showmanship, reserve champion in carcass.

And, like every year that we leave fair, we all were saying there is always next year!

Junior Fair Auction

For the kids, auction is certainly the highlight of fair week.

They are able to to sell only “market” animals (animals ready for slaughter).  This year they could sell the hogs and steer but not the calves.

A few weeks before fair they carefully craft buyer letters.   They look through the list of list year’s buyers and select several to send letters to.

This is an example of a buyer letter.  Dan also included 2 photos,one of himself with Squirt at 1 month old and the other at market weight.

Dear Moritz Material,

My name is Dan Garn and I am an eighth grader at Hillsdale Middle School. I am inviting you to bid on the Junior Fair Market Steer auction at the Ashland County Fair, Thursday Sept 20, 2012 at 6:30pm. 

I am a member of Hilltop 4Hers. This is my first year showing a market steer.  I am also showing a feeder calf, a market hog, and a gun safety project.   I am the treasurer of my 4H group.  I am an honors student and wish to be a dentist.  I also play football, baseball, basketball and run track. I am saving my fair earnings for college and next year’s animal projects.

I have raised this steer since it was 1 day old.  I showed him at last year’s fair as a feeder calf.  I have cared for him for 18 months; including bottle feeding, halter breaking, and providing clean food, water and housing daily.  I have included pictures of him.  He is a Brown Swiss.  He is well muscled and you will enjoy the beef.  If you have any questions about bidding you can contact my father, Rob Garn..  Thank you for supporting junior fair!


This is one of  the  non-animal skills that I think fair teaches.  Asking for buyers, talking to them if approached at fair, and remembering to write thank letters. 

Michael’s first year at fair he was sitting on his hog pen when a woman walked up to him and asked him questions about how he cared for his pig.

He talked for several minutes and she walked away.  He had no idea who was.   But several hours later she bought his pig at auction.   She was the owner of the local Applebee’s restaurant and wanted to support hard working kids.  She had received many letters, read them, then talked to the kids on the fairgrounds.  Thankfully Michael was polite and answered thoughtfully instead of ignoring her and running off with his friends.

This year auction was wonderful. I very quickly remembered why I like to work for a small independent hospital. My wonderful employer, Samaritan Regional Health Systems, came out to support the community with the purchase of many animals, including several of ours.

The kids use part of the income to place thank yous in the local newspaper.



Michaels hog was purchased by our very generous neighbor.


The kids anxiously await their checks in the mail. They have many ideas on how to spend the money. Amanda is going to purchase a used car and save the rest for college. Daniel wishes to buy a bow for hunting and save for the future. Mike will spend some on next years 4h camp then save most for a future land purchase to start a farm.

They kids are also contributing toward a water and electric line to the barn so we can have automatic livestock waterers. That will mean no need to break ice on the water troughs this year!

I am so indebted to all junior livestock bidders. They make my children motivated to work hard the other 11 months of the year. The selfless giving brought me to tears this year.

A very heartfelt thank you.

Amanda at fair

Amanda had a good fair. It is a joy to watch her grow up.

But with that said, showmanship with her steer was not her shining moment.  Mickey was his typical stubborn self. 


Mickey giving Amanda a look!

She ended up placing 6th in showmanship.   In market class Mickey placed 7th overall.


Amanda with the judge asking her basic beef knowledge questions as he watches her set Mickeys feet.

Showing Frosty, her feeder calf, wasn’t a lot better.   She clearly needs to work her cattle MUCH more before next years show.  She placed 9th in showmanship.


Amanda walking Frosty in the show ring following Daniel

Hog showmanship went well.  She placed 3rd.  The judge told her she was a natural and should have started years earlier.  Funny this was the same judge that didn’t place her at all last year!


Amanda walking Cinderella in the show ring

Her pig placed 4th in her class.  


Amanda, in a holding pen, during market class

She was very happy.


She loves to show pigs. 

Next year’s goal- win showmanship!

All pictures in this  post are thanks to my wonderful mother in law. 



Just some of this years ribbons from showing animals. We haven’t cleaned out the beef barn yet, so there are still several hanging in there. Too bad there were no blue or purple grand champion banners. There is always next year!

Chevy gets a make over

Chevy got his first wash and dry today.


He was very mellow.  I had NO idea how much prep time went into showing beef.  

It is very much like a dog show and grooming the high maintenance breeds like poodles.

He is very hairy!  


Rob and Mike shampoo Chevy


Brushing and blow drying

And the final product, with a pleased Mike.


He may not  place high, he certainly doesn’t have a high dollar pedigree (remember he was a surprise calf out of a skinny cow bought at auction)  But Mike is having fun.

Brown Swiss

This breed of  cattle simply melts my heart.   The calves are heartbreakingly cute.

Rusty, this year’s swiss calf is so sweet.  He will follow you without a halter.  He runs to the pasture fence to get pet when he sees you  coming. 

And his ears.  Those huge ears.  They bounce when he runs. I love them so!


Rusty 2 days old.


Running to the fence to get pet.


Squirt is now 17 months old.  Not quite as sweet anymore, but still very mellow for a steer.


Hanging out with baby Squirt, April 2011.


Baby Squirt hating his bath.


I would have 100 Swiss calves if we had the space!




quirt all grown up.  Approximately 1500 lbs.

Picture day

Ever try to take a good picture of a pig?  Or a steer?  AND a kid?


Very frustrating.

The kids are raising the animals to ultimately sell at auction at the end of fair.  Local businesses buy the animals as community service / advertising.  I am always wowed by the support the  town gives 4h kids.

The kids write letters asking for bidders.   We include a picture so the bidders (hopefully) recognize them in the auction ring.

The animals get washed.   The kids get ready.  But you cant make a pig smile for camera!

We spent an hour chasing pigs around the yard trying to get 3 suitable pictures. We tried all the tricks, put out bowls of feed, a hose, piles of apple, etc.

So frustrating.


wait!  dont walk away.


Youre walking away again!


This isn’t working!


Horrible, busy background.


Not only will Cinderella not stop at the food bowls, she knocks them over.


Who wants to bid on a pig butt?


How did I not notice how short her shorts were?  I can NOT mail this one out! 


Ooops, forgot the kids face!


Runaway pig.

I posted these because any one who photographs kids and animals understands!

We did end up with 5 pictures.  3 hogs, 2 steer.  They weren’t great.  But they will do.


Mike with Spot.


Daniel walking Pepper.


Amanda with Cinderella eating the hose.  (I will photoshop jeans on her!)


Daniel and Squirt


Amanda with Mickey.  (again, jeans will be added!)