How my son grew his first year of 4-H.
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Parenting,  School Agers

How My Son Grew His First Year Of 4-H

I spent some time working in agricultural lending.  I had visited and volunteered at our county 4-H fairs in the past.

I had spoken to adults who had nothing but great things to say about 4-H.

So when the opportunity for my own son to participate presented itself, we jumped in head first.

I’m not going to lie, it was a huge time commitment.

The calves arrived at our friends family farm in late February.

We hurried over, excited about the news.

We learned how to bottle feed them and keep their pens cleaned.

We made the commitment to come every single day after school to feed and care for them.

Our friends would nicely take the morning shift for us.

Whether it rained or snowed, was 90 degrees or 10, we made the trip to the farm because my son needed to learn that the responsibility of caring for another life, wasn’t dependent on what was convenient.

He soon learned how to start walking the calves.


My son has always been quick to anger and having to learn patience and perseverance was life-changing.

There’s nothing like watching a stubborn calf plant his feet while a kid a fourth of his side tries to coax him to walk.

He quickly developed a bond so strong with his two young calves that he didn’t mind putting in the hard work.

By time fair came around he had grown from an unsure little boy who preferred to spend his days in front of a screen, to a confident farm kid that wasn’t afraid to get a little dirty and loved spending time in the barn.

Before I knew it, it was time to pack up and make our move to fair.

Let me tell you I was nervous.  Fair required us to spend 8 am to 8 pm in the barns for four days to make sure our animals were, clean, watered, and fed.

To make that kind of a commitment with a two-year-old and 9-year old was a bit intimidating.

We were unsure what was expected of us, but let me tell you we quickly figured it out.

We learned that 4-H kids were happy to help one another.  Other kids quickly jumped in to show us the ropes.

By day two my son was not only cleaning up after his steer but after his neighbors too.

He took pride in keeping his area and his steer clean and was excited to show him off to anyone passing through.

When it came time to show, my stomach was in knots.

What if the steer got nervous and dragged him?  What if he got nervous and froze?

That little boy walked into the ring with a confidence only months of perfecting his craft could achieve.

This was the day he had been waiting for.

His steer placed fifth, but my confident little boy got a big second place ribbon for his showmanship abilities.

I’ve never been prouder.

This wasn’t a ribbon based on participation, this was a ribbon he worked his butt off to earn.

He walked out of that show ring smiling, already making plans to come back next year and do even better.



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