The tangy smell of silage, the whining of spinning 17-inch tires against mud, the tingly feeling in one’s fingertips when it is cold enough for the gloves you are not wearing: yes, it is early January on the Sydenstricker farm during the annual Audrain County 4-H Beef Weigh-in.
Centralia’s Olivia Cooley has been bringing four-hoofed friends to the weigh-in since she was old enough to tug on the halter of a bucket calf. “This is how I learned how to take care of and feed calves,” she said as Kendra Allen, Stephanie Femrite and Austin McBride checked out her yearling heifer. “I started when I was four at the Centralia Fair.”
She said she was hoping the results of that morning’s work would help her win the rate-of-gain award in her class at the Audrain County fair this ?July.
“They learn about caring for animals,” Femrite said, when asked what the youngsters, FFA and 4-H members, learned from the exercise. “As well as raise and maintain an animal to industry standards. They are responsible for the daily care of their animals. They don’t take holidays. Through rate-of-gain they learn to prepare their animals for show and market.”
As the Cooley’s were pulling away, ?David? Hasekamp pulled in with Seth and Jenna Hasekamps’ steers and heifers.
“Consistency and perseverance,” Seth said when asked what he was learning, “and the importance of balancing work and family.”
That is not the only thing they learn, said David Hasekamp. “They learn, since those animals are depending on them, not to let a bad day get you down. Getting back up and facing it all again the next day is real important. You learn to get back up and do it again. That’s farming.”
Femrite said they weighed 49 cattle, market beefs, that morning, from 30 4-H and FFA members.