The First Last
Two weeks ago today, we ended our ten day run at the fairs. We started at the Knox County Fair and ended and the Ohio State Fair.
This year was different for us. Yes, some of the different was because of Covid changes, but most of the different was because we were all too aware that this was our first last.
This was Isaac's last year at the Knox County Fair and the last day of the Ohio State Fair marked his last "kid" activity before heading off to college.
There were a lot of kids that spent this year soaking up their "lasts", so there weren't many "no's" coming from us.
Isaac and Walker were adopted by their "campground family". Many of our family and friends camp at the fair and they graciously adopted Isaac and Walker for the week. Isaac slept in a cousin's camper and Walker spent every night sleeping in a reclining camp chair out under a pop-up tent.
They stayed up way too late...or far too early...and were up a few hours later to take care of animals and get ready for show days.
They were running on fumes, but enjoyed every moment of it. And as long as they got done what they were supposed to do...we let them soak up every last minute.
The point of the fairs was to show cattle and the boys did very well.
Walker has worked especially hard this year because he has had to pick up the slack while Isaac has been working full-time trying to get those last few paychecks before college.
The highlight of our week at Knox County was Walker winning Grand Champion with his feeder calf. Lucky was our wild card, purchased at an online sale I found at the last minute about a day before our purchase deadline. We were down to the wire and desperate to just bring a calf home, but luck was certainly in Walker's favor and he saw potential in a young, green calf that others did not see...and the price fit his budget.
Isaac showed his full-sized steer and placed 4th in his class, but also placed 3rd overall in carcass and 6th in rate of gain. Chance was more of a commercial steer than a show steer and the statistics show that.
Isaac and Walker were both in senior showmanship and were standing in the ring with the top five...which were all participants in the O.C.A. BEST program. It is proof of how much they have all learned from the program. Walker ended up placing 5th and Isaac 4th in the final line up.
In the breed show, Autumn won Reserve Other Breeds.
Kennedy placed first in her class.
Yes, someone else had to show her in the final drive because Isaac and Walker already had other cows in the ring.
And Candy Cane and Colt were Champion Cow/Calf Pair.
The show ring days were fun, but they paled in comparison to the experiences this year. These four were inseparable the entire week, as three of them were experiencing their "lasts". It was so fun to stand on the side and just watch as they soaked up the moments. They laughed together and cried together...and then made plans how they can keep doing this together as they grow older.
Covid changes did not allow the kids to take their animals through the sale ring, but the kids tried to make the best of a disappointing situation. They rallied together and took turns holding awards and supporting each other through the sale ring.
It was very special to sit back and watch the kindness of these kids as they made sure everyone was included and supported on what can be a very difficult day.
Isaac and Walker were working their sales skills to the max right up to the very end. The sale paid off big for them as they both received the biggest payouts they have ever gotten. Walker's feeder is going to the home of another 4-Her in the barn and will be back next year. Isaac worked the buyers, but his steer ended up selling to someone he didn't even know. Knox County really came through for all the kids this year.
Sale day also lent itself to enough down time to sneak in a nap.
And the only thing left is waiting on the manure wagon to return so the cleaning out of stalls can continue.
We have spent many days looking out at this view reliving the events of weeks gone by, watching people, reminiscing about all the memories made on these fairgrounds. And for us, realizing that we only have two more years as fair parents.
I always start fair week with a love-hate relationship, but always end the week wishing it wasn't over.
And then it was time.
His final trailer load.
He didn't cry like the first time...but I did. Not so much for the difficulty of sending the animals off, but I could no longer deny that this was the last time.
I didn't cry at his graduation, I didn't cry when he decided on a college...but I cried at the fair.
How did we go from a nine-year-old learning the hard realities of market animals, to a nineteen-year-old wrestling with the realities of leaving his childhood behind and making his own path?
This year was never really about the animals for him. Yes, he loves working with the cows, but this year was really about the people in the barn. The barn has changed over the years and more and more of his friends graduate, but this year was extra special. Not being at the fair last year left a hole and he wasn't about to let this year be taken for granted.
You could feel the difference in all the kids.
The determination to make sure every day counted.
They slept at the fair one last night...with orders to be home by 7 a.m. to load the trailer for the Ohio State Fair.
The Ohio State Fair was short...
But it was sweet.
With a Grand Champion win for Autumn.
And a Reserve Grand Champion with Colt...
Who was thoroughly done with fairs by this point.
And so were they.
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Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.