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.


Time to walk the pigs


Mike with Bertha

I love this time of year.   We have 33 days until fair and life is busy.

The pigs are finally big enough to walk.   We wait until they are about 200 lbs.  If you walk them much lighter they run too fast to control.

They all have different personalities.  Yesterday only Mike and  Amanda were to walk.

We could very quickly see that Amandas pig, weighing only 175# is a runner.   We opened the pen and  she took off running, to the back hay field.  You don’t chase or they run faster.  Very nerve wrecking to watch the kids projects run away!


Amanda and Snow White

Eventually, Snow White calmed down to walk.  Amanda uses a whip to walk, but with only very light touches.   Pigs are sensitive, a soft touch is enough to send then in the right direction.


Mike with both Spot and Bertha

Mike uses a cane.  But again, with very little pressure.   Once the pigs have been walking for a week or so it becomes much easier.

We are in full swing for fair

Summer is sadly dwindling down.

Honestly it will feel over on Monday.

Daily football practices start.  Matching band the following week.

Judging for still projects is next Sunday.  This means, although they haven’t procrastinated much this summer,  they are all scrambling to finish project books.


Amanda is busy baking her last loaves of bread for “Yeast Breads”.


Kneading dough

Mike has three projects (his choice) so he overwhelmed.  He is done with “Fun with Flight”.  Almost done with Grill Master”.  But he still has activities for “Tractor 3”

Daily haltering of calves and steer is very time consuming.  At least an hour in the barn every evening.


Walking feeder calves


Every now and then you just get a great picture. Amanda with Frosty.

Livestock interview judging is in 2 weeks.  Kids need to get busy studying.

While I love fair, this nonstop chaos is exhausting!

All work and no play

My kids certainly enjoy summer. 

Although the animals take up a lot of time, we manage to slip out for lots of fun.


Rob with the kids on the power tower.


Millennium Force, a favorite roller coaster


Kids with their cousins on a water ride.

We have season passes to Cedar Point, an amusement park about 1 hour away.


Running down to the river to go tubing

We have a camper and try to take a few week long trips a year.  During the summer we camp locally so we can run home to feed the animals.   Thankfully there is a great state park nearby with a river for tubing, mountain bike trails, fishing, and lots of relaxing.


Mohican state park


Zoey sleeping with one of the kids in the camper

We tend to camp further from home during spring break. We have camped in the Smokies, Florida, and South Carolina. Next year we are headed back to Florida, this time to St Andrews State Park.


Riding bikes at Henderson State Park, Destin, FL

Sports also take a big part in the kids lives.


Amanda playing first base on varsity softball team.


Mike with his football team


Dan catching

And, although only Mike enjoys kayaking with me, I do try to get out regularly.


Kayaking in Charles Mill Lake

I love the animals, but glad the kids stay involved in extras!

Baling Straw

This is what hot looks like.


One load down, three to go.

We helped bale straw today.  My husband ran the baler while the boys and I helped my father in law unload the wagon.

It was 95 degrees today. 


The sweat was pouring off everyone.  

Lots of water breaks and we got most of the wheat straw stacked.


Mike in the skid steer cleaning up the broken bales

I offered to take mike home after the first 2 loads, but he chose to stay and help hay.   Crazy kid.

The wild one

The kids show dairy calves because of their calm personalities. 

But this year Mike was given the chance to show a neighbors beef calf.

This is a  whole new ball game.

We get dairy calves at 24hrs old.  We bottle feed.  No mother cows to deal with. 

Now he has to get the trust of a  month old beef steer calf still nursing on mom in 10 acre pasture.


Mike headed into the pasture with a bucket of sweet feed

He still hadn’t managed to touch Chevy.  (the name Chevy reflects what he is saving his fair money for!)

The closest he has gotten  is about 10yrds before Chevy gets nervous and runs off.


Chevy snuggling next to mom

Mommy cow, thankfully, is mellow and wonderfully indifferent.  She calmly stands still and waits for Mike to dump out a bit of sweet feed for her.


Chevy getting nervous. He is ready to run. mike just stands still, hoping that this time will be different.


And he is off again!

No magical ending this time either.  But tomorrow is another day. 


Chevy stops and watches from a safe distance.

And we have lots more buckets of sweet feed to hopefully entice him close enough.

He has a very sweet face, I hope we earn his trust soon.


Chevy with his black tipped ears. Flies were bad yesterday as it was dry and HOT.


Still in a good mood, after all he its spending the day on his favorite spot on earth, the farm

September fair is only 3 months away!

Any tips? 

Strawberry jam

I am not sure why I feel the need to can and freeze.  But it gives me great satisfaction.

We went strawberry picking this week.  I have never had great luck with growing my own berries (too many bugs) but there is a wonderful fruit farm near us.


Mike was the only one that wanted to come picking.

The fields were beautifully tended to.  I had called ahead and they apologized, the berries were getting small and picked over.

I an not sure what they liked looked last week, but they were large and plentiful!


Does this look picked over?

Mike and I picked for 90 minutes and got 48 quarts!


Each bucket held just under 5 quarts

Then the jam making began.


Kids being goofy while slicing the tops off

We ended up with 42 pints of freezer jam.  They will feel like  jars of summer in December.


We also froze whole berries for  smoothies, loaves of strawberry bread, and had bowls of  fresh berries.  But the jam is my favorite


Few things are more relaxing in the summer evenings then taking kids fishing.  We have a state wildlife area near the house.


Mike casting a line

The area is marshy, full of bugs, fish and turtles. 

I will take a walk while the boys fish, there are some hidden treasures



Wild grapes that I have been keeping an eye on waiting for fall to ripen them


Beautiful wildflowers


Beautiful marsh land views