"I tolerate goats" - a shirt one of the dads at fair was wearing
I love fair so much - SO MUCH. Seriously, if my husband had one tenth the interest that I do, we would have about four kinds of goats, ducks, sheep, and cattle. But he doesn't - at all. As a matter of fact I think it would be fair to say that he is the Grinch of fair. He hates the time it takes. He hates the money it takes. He hates the year round care of the animals. He hates the last minute rush to finish projects. I would say we are very blessed to have a marriage that is so compatible in so many ways, but when it comes to fair we have a real divide. When we have conflict in other parts of our relationship we both give a little to find a compromise. When it comes to raising animals I think we can safely say that Josh gives a lot. He allows all these time wasting creatures because... Well - I don't know exactly why he does it besides to humor me. Every year when fair roles around he is grumpy and feels neglected. In all fairness (pun not intended), he is neglected. But it is FAIR, and fair is magical. I just can't explain it to someone that didn't grow up doing fair. There is something fundamentally pure and youthful about 4H. I have so many great memories about fair as a kid and I want my kids to have the same kind of experiences.
If I am being totally honest I think we can say that my girls primarily do 4H because they where not really given an option. Emma was different because she kind of had a two-mom's experience. Her mother did 4H and did the indoor projects (sewing, foods, etc.), I knew I wanted the girls to do animal projects and encouraged Emma to explore that. between her mother and myself we always agreed with each other that we wanted Emma to do 4H. She started with rabbits and did very well, but we knew we wanted something larger. She moved to goats, where we sucked for several years before we figured it out. Her mother and I have happily shared the work of Emma's 4H experience and I think it has gone really well. Emma has one more year and I hope she feels like she doesn't have any regrets. I have tried to always buy her the best animals that I could afford. Looking back I made some mistakes with her, I was learning right along with her and I didn't let her have enough control. I picked her animals for her, I pick their feed and how much, I figure medical care, and I used to do almost all the grooming. I should have made her learn it all along with me to help her understand her animals better.
When Lily started 4H a few years ago we knew a great deal about Pygmy goats and a little bit about Dairy goats. I loved watching all the great little sheep and I encouraged her to take on that project as well. Lily knows more about her animals at her age than Emma did, but in all fairness Lily gets stuck taking care of them more than Emma because Lily lives her all the time. Lily does like her animals and will go out to do her chores when she is told, but you would never find her training her goats to show with out being reminded. She just sees them as fun toys, which they are - but she doesn't have a ton of drive to learn animal management or husbandry. Lily, like her older sister, has a ton of talents and interests, livestock just is not one of them.
Let me clarify, it's ok with me that the girls don't live and die for this stuff. All I did from the age of 10-24 was show horses. Nothing else, and I don't feel like that left me very well rounded. I want the girls to explore a variety of activities to find out what they love on their own. I feel like the small herd of goats and 1-2 sheep that I keep gives us the the chance to have some fun together with out things getting to crazy. Josh's lack of interest really keeps me pretty inline which in turn leads to me not pushing the girls so far that they want to quit. Its all a symbiotic relationship that somehow equals a really good balance. (I think - Josh may disagree with that.) If you asked the girls what they like about summer I think both of them would have fair on their list. They both love to compete and they both understand the joyful magic of fair.
With all that said, whats on the agenda for next year?
Emma - this will be her last year. She has discussed doing a new indoor project, which I hope she does. She will have her two pygmy wethers to show and her Nubian doe. I wish I could afford to buy her something really special for her last year but the expense would be extreme and may be more than I can ask of her father.
Lily - She will have her babydoll lamb to show as a yearling then I hope to trade it back to its breeder for another lamb for the next season. Eventually I would like to breed these little guys as a hobby but through much debate Josh has made me promise to put that on the back burner till I graduate and get established in my new job. Lily will have her pygmy doe that we all love and then her Nubian doe.
Loose agenda for 2017
Max's first year and the first year we will have bred the Nubian does.
Max - Emma's old Nubian and any babies that Nubian has, one of Emma's old pygmy wethers, and one babydoll lamb (maybe, I might make him wait a year on sheep)
Lillian - Her Nubian and it's babies, the other one of Emma's old pygmy wethers, Lily's pygmy doe, and one babydoll lamb
ps- I would rather that Josh embrace the magic of Disney than the magic of fair. Just for the record.