Check it out
What: Yolo County 4-H Spring Show
When: Friday through Sunday, May 2-4
Where: Yolo County Fairgrounds, 1325 East St., Woodland
A lot goes into raising a pig for market.
The right feed is important, and can be expensive. Unexpected veterinary bills can take a toll. And then there is the time involved in raising a large animal.
Evan Long, 12, a student at Emerson Junior High School, knows all about that. Evan has been raising Ferguson the pig for the past four months.
He feeds Ferguson twice a day, walks him around a large, grassy pen in an effort to practice showmanship, and generally does all that needs doing to keep Ferguson healthy and growing.
“These kids work really, really hard,” his mom, Tracey Long said, “learning not just the specifics for taking care of animals, but also the work ethic, and the responsibility.”
All that work should pay off for Evan next weekend when he puts Ferguson up for auction at the annual 4-H Spring Show at the Yolo County Fairgrounds.
He hopes to sell Ferguson for an estimated $1,200, about half of which will cover his costs over the past four months and a portion of which will go into his savings account. The rest will be saved for next year, when Evan likely will start all over again with another pig.
This is the life for many members of the West Plainfield 4-H Club, most of whom are country kids used to farm life and raising animals.
The club, which now numbers about 70 members between the ages of 5 and 19, meets monthly at Lillard Hall in West Plainfield.
A family tradition
Josie and Garret Beoshanz are third-generation members of the club, following in the footsteps of their father and grandfather.
Like Evan Long, Garret Beoshanz is raising a pig this year that will be auctioned off at the county fairgrounds on Sunday, May 4. Josie, meanwhile, a fifth-grader at Patwin Elementary School, will show the chicken she’s been raising for the past year — a blue splash variety named Milkshake — but she’ll be bringing Milkshake back home afterwards rather than selling her.
The Beoshanzes have been 4-H members for five years now, and mom, Sasha, is the parent organizer for the swine group, a group that will be auctioning off nine pigs in all at the Spring Show.
Truth be told, Sasha Beoshanz doesn’t have to do much for the kids in her group — her role is limited to directing members to the right resources and making sure their paperwork is taken care of. The kids do the rest — especially when it comes to the care of their animals.
The whole club is like that, really — led by the youth members themselves, with the adults on the periphery as needed. The kids run the meetings, participate in community service and take care of planning. As the oldest members transition out, the next oldest take over leadership.
Hannah Lomas, 17, a junior at Davis High School, has been a member for eight years and is now president of the West Plainfield 4-H.
Her mom, Kris Lomas, loves what 4-H has done for Hannah.
“She was shy and quiet before,” Kris Lomas said. “But now she’s taken on all this leadership, and it’s amazing what it’s done for her. I’m a huge proponent of 4-H now.”
In addition to leading the whole club, Hannah is also co-leader of the dairy animal group and is raising a goat for the seventh year. She’ll be showing Maybelline, a Nigerian dwarf goat, at the Spring Show.
From farm to table
Whether to auction off their animals or keep them is a decision the members have to make each year.
Saying goodbye to an animal they’ve raised themselves can be tough, after all.
But when they do decide to raise an animal for market, they tend to approach matters with a different mind-set, Sasha Beoshanz said, avoiding becoming too attached and focusing more on the goals ahead.
And whether they sell or keep their animals, they end up “with a better appreciation for where their food comes from,” Tracey Long noted.
“We are so accustomed to going to Safeway … and picking up a piece of meat,” she said. “Now they know how much goes into it. You think about the effort. Even an egg, or a glass of milk … after seeing the girls milk the goats, and seeing how hard it is, you just appreciate it more.”
Lots of choices
4-H is about more than just raising animals, of course. Members learn everything from archery to cooking, rocketeering to fly fishing and plenty of arts and crafts in between.
The program has been around for more than 100 years, bringing hands-on science and youth development to children across the country. 4-H stands for the four-fold development of youth: head, heart, hands and health. In Yolo County, the program is administered through the University of California Cooperative Extension, serving hundreds of children ages 5 to 19.
Davis, meanwhile, is home to three different clubs: Golden Valley, Norwood and West Plainfield. The activities that members of each club engage in depend largely on what the members and their parents bring to the table. But members of one club can join a project or group in another club, and all work together much like different Scout troops would.
And most members will be on hand when the annual Spring Show gets underway at the county fairgrounds next week. Those who have been raising animals will be showing them on Friday, May 2, with the auction set for Sunday. Meanwhile, other 4-H members from around the county will be demonstrating non-animal projects like photography, cooking, archery and more.
Some 2,500 Yolo County students in all are expected to attend Farm Connection Day on Friday, May 2, when Yolo County 4-H and the Yolo County Farm Bureau will host agricultural displays and hands-on activities for kids of all ages.
The public is invited to come see everything 4-H has to offer all weekend long and kids between the ages of 5 and 19 are welcome to join a 4-H club at any time.
For more information about 4-H in Yolo County, visit http://ceyolo.ucanr.edu/4-H_Program.
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy