Saturday, August 23, 2014
Some scattered observations from the county fair
A sight which pretty much perfectly summed up the fair: a pair of FFA boys, in their early teens, walking away from the food court, perfectly done up in their regulation black pants, white shirt, tie, heavy blue blazer, ruddy scrubbed faces and slicked back hair. Each was working on a "scone" bigger than his head, smiling the biggest damn smiles I've seen in a long time.
4H-ers are not required to wear a uniform. Nonetheless, every single 4H girl was wearing exactly the same thing, to the point where a code could be drawn up: "Cowboy-style boots, with patterned stitching and at least two colors of leather, must be worn at all times. Jeans shall be boot cut, tight in the rear, and moderately low cut; they shall have patterned stitching on the rear pockets, preferably with rhinestones. Leather belts with large, bling-y buckles are encouraged. Shirts shall be long-sleeve, snap-buttoned, plaid with some metallic threads woven in. Hair shall be pulled back in a pony tail." Really, just about every 4H girl had that look, and plenty of the moms too.
All hat, no cattle
Some of the girls who wore the 4H uniform were not quite as farm-y as their look suggested. A couple of them, whose animal experience I guess was limited to horses, visited the sheep and goat barn. I was walking one of my Shetland lambs around, and they were impressed by "what a cute goat" I had.
Our truck fell ill before the fair; it had some issues with its turbocharger, so couldn't generate enough power to pull a trailer, which made life very complicated. We couldn't get it fixed until after the fair; so, a week later I found myself in the Ford dealership's "courtesy shuttle," making conversation with the driver. I asked him about the fair, if he'd gone, and what he thought. He thought it was okay, but seemed a little smaller this year. I told him about our goats, and how they did, and it turned out that his sister-in-law had the Nubians in the stall next-door to ours.
You can take the professor out of the university, but...
When I'm with my animals at the fair, I try to talk with any passerby who looks even a little interested--I act as an ambassador for the brand. One lady was interested in what the sheep ate, and how it was neat that an animal could transform hay into wool. So, we started talking about nutrition and feeding for the sheep, and that led to a discussion about what's going on in the rumen, which led to the microbes therein, which led to...and so on. She was pretty interested, and had a lot of interesting questions, which I was mostly able to answer. One question, towards the end of our discussion, was "are you a teacher or something? You sound like you teach this stuff."