3 Life Lessons From the County Fair
2017 has been a year of learning for us. We moved to a new home, started working on our new farm, and so much more. In fact, I think more things have been “new” to us this year than business as usual.
One of the many changes we experienced this year was our first time at the county fair locally. We hadn’t even attended this fair before, much less shown in it. Of course, we jumped right into 4-H and projects, but we were in unfamiliar territory when fair season arrived.
New Mexico doesn’t “play” fair like some areas do. It’s seriously business, and honestly it had my son, and me, a bit concerned. A far cry from the small fairs we were used to in Florida, we knew this was a whole other league. These people knew what they were doing, and we knew what he was up against.
Even though we fumbled a bit this year, we had a great fair experience, and we learned many things. Not even counting what we learned from livestock, we learned a few life lessons along the way.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This year was not only our first year with a new fair, in a new state, but my son tackled an entirely new project- Dairy heifers. Although we have had dairy cows before for our business, the
We stumbled through the project, and they grew nicely and were sweet and easy to work with. When fair preparation time came though, I have to admit, we had no idea what to do.
We scoured the internet for videos on how to clip dairy heifers hoping that there would be information. There really isn’t much available. Nothing that breaks down the specifics of it all anyway. Unsure of what to do, we set out to clip the heifers with my old mule mane trimming clippers. Despite my hesitation, they came out decently.
When we arrived at the fair, people were unloading blowers and grooming chutes and show boxes full of supplies. As they timidly walked in the two little heifers, my son noted that we had none of these items and his heart sank.
The next day we set out to one of the local stored that we knew carried showing supplies. I knew that one of the employees had a son that also showed dairy heifers and my hope was that he could at least help me navigate the aisle of “heifer hair products” so we could at least give him a fighting chance.
After speaking with him, and being directed to products that help give them their “final bloom” before they walk into the ring, and the perfectly sculpted mohawk to make their backs look straight, he made a most generous offer.
“We have a blower, and a chute, come over to our area tomorrow and we will help him fit his heifers.” Um what? My child could potentially be going up against yours and you’re offering to help us AND teach him?
When the day of the show arrived, the gentleman was true to his word. He walked my son through the process and they helped him prepare his heifers. However, he wasn’t the only one that invited him to watch and learn!
Although it is hard to admit when we don’t know something, humbling ourselves and asking for help is often the best solution.
If I had simply kept quiet, my son wouldn’t have gained the knowledge that he now has. If I had kept quiet, my son wouldn’t have learned that it’s OK to admit that you don’t know it all. Most of all, if I had kept quiet, my son wouldn’t have seen that no matter what, you should always try and help others.
Be kind to others
One thing that I truly loved about this fair was how everyone worked together. The fair even sponsors awards to help foster that kind of attitude. The herdsman award is given to the children that are seen looking out for others, and going above and beyond.
Throughout the event, kids would pick up cow pies from their neighbor’s pens, keep the aisle way scooped out and clean, or help others with their stock.
In fact, we didn’t know that we needed a neck rope for the heifers in addition to the halters. Oops. (Did I mention this was our first year with this project?) Not only were we told in a kind manner, but we returned to find that someone had lent us some and put them on the heifers for us until we could return. They didn’t want us to get in trouble.
When we returned, we put our neck ropes on the girls and hung theirs up on the divider by our pen. We went about mucking the pen, and while we were out, someone came and retrieved their ropes. It wasn’t done for show, the award, attention or “atta-boys”, it was just a kind person wanting to help. We never found out who loaned us the neck ropes.
Anyone that knows #FairLife knows that all bets are off on fair week. You literally live, breathe and eat the fair. Between show prep, animal care, entering your items, and volunteer time, you might as well just sleep at the fairgrounds (and many people do). With that being said, my husband said some terrifying words to me shortly before the fair. “Hun, my Mom and Dad are coming to visit…. And it is during the week of the fair.”
*Cue panic mode*
“During. Fair. Week?”
I have to admit, I figured this would be a disaster. They aren’t fair people, we hadn’t seen them in a while, and this was their first time to New Mexico. HOW WILL I WORK THIS?! I don’t have time to play tour guide this week!
They arrived, and were quite pleasant. I gave them a brief run-down of the craziness that is fair week. They said they were good with it and wanted to help. “Psh, you have NO IDEA what you just got yourself into.” I thought.
To make matters worse, I had to work on “drop off day”. I was supposed to be able to leave a bit early, but that didn’t happen. I could literally feel the terror dripping from my husband’s frantic text messages that day.
“What art projects need to go?”
“Which chickens do I have to catch?”
“THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE BATHED?!”
“I just &^%$%# hit my head, I am bleeding.” (I won’t tell you HOW he hit his head but it was pretty funny)
“The chickens just got out and ran off.”
Just to show a few of the messages that I received that day (oh yes, there were many more!), of course all while I am trying to focus and write my fourth newspaper article for the day.
However, when I finally arrived home, I found my mother in law gleefully sharing stories of my father in law parading one of the heifers around so she could be judged and placed in a class, my house cleaned, beds made and dishes done.
I am not going to lie, I was in shock. Throughout the week, my poor husband was finally able to calm down, and my in-laws were a huge blessing to fair week. They helped watch kids, did homework with them all, kept the younger kids entertained with projects and art. I seriously couldn’t have asked for better help.
This lesson wasn’t really one for my kids, but one for me. I ASSUMED that my in-laws would compound the fair week madness. I was wrong. I didn’t take the chance to try and be thankful for their help, I just assumed it would be a hindrance. I was proven wrong. Like asking for help, it is also hard to admit when you’re wrong. Regardless, I am thankful for them and their assistance!
In the end, he didn’t win, but that was not what matters when it comes to 4-H, or any life experience really. What matters is that we learned, we grew, and we were all able to take in those lessons from that hectic week.