AgCenter Farm Tour Series!

Vernelle Mitchell HawkinsSpring is trying hard to come to Baltimore County.  We have seen weather that is sometimes hot and balmy or cold and blistery in the same week. These weather issues have not stopped the AgCenter Farm Tour Series! The AgCenter Farm Tour Series is a partnership program between University of Maryland Extension/4-H and Maryland Agricultural Resource Center (MARC). Groups from local schools and community organizations visit the AgCenter for a customized agricultural experience. I am pretty excited about this new program series and will be sharing highlights. Tell a friend, neighbor or co-worker that the AgCenter Farm Tour Series is well underway!

Pine Grove Visit

We started the season with a group of Pre-K students who came to visit from Pine Grove Elementary School. During their visit we learned about the importance of bees, visited the children’s garden to see how plants “wake up” from winter, and said “Hello” to the resident sheep and goats on campus. The students collected nature samples during the hike (while singing a catchy hiking tune) that they used to make rubbings. We even stopped at the beautiful Maple tree grove and discussed how yummy syrup comes from trees.  Quote of the Day – “The chicks look so fluffy!”

Thank you for coming Pine Grove!

4-H Fair Prep has a Different meaning for each 4-H’er

By Santana Mays

Every year 4-H’ers look forward to the Baltimore County 4-H Fair. For those four days, endless work goes into making the fair a success throughout the year. Many people are involved; 4-H’ers, families, parents, farmers, board members, extension educators…Whether it is from getting projects ready for the fair or setting up there is a lot of work.

The fair board meets every month to make sure everything is in order so when move in the day comes around everything can run as smooth as possible. At meetings, the topics can range from costs to the schedule. Each person has a significant role to make the fair a success. Lynne Thomas from Baldwin 4-H club is the Fair Board Youth Director. As the Youth director, Lynne provides feedback to what the 4-H’ers liked about the fair and gave a suggestion for new activities as soon as the fair is over so they can start planning for the next year.

Rishi, a teen Council member, not only was a fair tour guide this year but helped along with many other 4-H’ers to get goodie bags together. Rishi says that the fair set up “involves the efforts of many dedicated 4-H’ers and it cannot be done all at once”. The fair to Rishi is worth all the work because he gets to introduce new people to 4-H and learn about new talents and interest. Rishi along with many other 4-H’ers helped me with the fair tours and AgroLand.

For David Thomas of Baldwin 4-H, AgroLand is an activity that he and his family are involved in. AgroLand is a way for the general public to learn about agriculture. AgroLand “is very critical to the success of our fair because it teaches children and adults where their food comes from!” says David. David was Grand Champion in a lot of baked goods.

Even though the planning behind the fair is an important and big part of the fair, sometimes the time the 4-H’ers put into getting ready for the show is overlooked. The week before and during the fair 4-H’ers are running around doing last minute clipping, baking another cake, or trying to put together one final painting. However, to make the best better, there is work that is done months and maybe even years before the fair.

Gabrielle Fisher of Silver Stirrups 4-H club, who got Senior Champion in hobbies and crafts, works year round to make sure that her real potential is shown through her work. Like Gabrielle, other 4-H’ers will spend a lot of time on a craft, painting, or a clothing project. This may range from putting it together, taking classes, and even doing some research on it. Like Gabrielle, 4-H’ers who show livestock spend a lot time with their animals getting ready for the fair.

As a past 4-H’er, I showed dairy cows, steers, market hogs, sheep and many other critters. These projects were sometimes the most time-consuming. For my cows and steers, I would have to start halter breaking them when they were very young. This would also include getting them used to being touched and around new sights and sounds. Then the week before the fair, the cows had to be clipped and washed. By the end of the day, I was so hairy that I could pass as a cow myself. Then the night before move in day halters was polished, tact box filled, hay, straw, and feed loaded and whites were washed and ironed.  While this may seem not very chaotic keep in mind that I still had to take care of the other animals on the farm and it was not a process that could be done the day before the fair. However, when show day comes, all the hard work is worth it.

At our Baltimore County fair we may not be the biggest. But the hard work of everyone who is involved is huge. Each year the fair is a success due to the dedication and work of our people. Already the planning for the 2018 fair is started and I cannot wait for another successful fair.

4-H Dairy Goat Club Learn to Shine as Showmen

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Doug Ryndak, 4-H Club Leader for the Baltimore County Dairy Goat Club

Recently, the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat Club participated in a practice show for goats hosted at the Weymouth Farm owned by Mike and Pam Spencer. Doug Ryndak is the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat Club leader shares the following, “Showing an animal, especially for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, luckily each year we are able to provide the Dairy Goat Club and other 4-H youth with a chance to try their hand at showing dairy goats.  It is great for not only new 4-H youth who have never shown dairy goats before to have an opportunity to practice before their first real show, but also for seasoned showmen to hone their skills and learn new tips on showing.  It is always a fun time to get together and give the kids a confident start to the show season. Even though these kids will ultimately be competing against each other in the show ring, they are always helping each other and teaching each other, which is what the 4-H program is all about.”

Bonnie, Mike and Pam
Bonnie Six with Pam and Mike Spencer and one of their goats.

Mrs. Bonnie Six conducted the showing clinic on a beautiful evening in May. She is a dairy goat judge at the Hereford Jr. Farm Fair and comes every year to help club members practice showing. Besides having the opportunity to practice showing their goats the 4-H’ers learned what questions the judges might ask. “Typically the judges will ask you about a goat’s diet, physical appearance, goat anatomy, and hygiene.” Suggests Ian Moore, president of the Dairy Goat Club. To prepare for these types of questions Danielle Ryndak, Vice President of the Dairy Goat Club adds, “Practice anatomy and the scorecard, to do that block a few minutes each day to study your anatomy and scorecard. Just 10 minutes a day will make you a champ. Make flash cards and test yourself. When you are competing in “Fitting and Showing” the judge will ask you questions to do with anatomy and will ask you points in the scorecard. Also, know your goats ADGA registered name, breed, birth date, and freshening date as the judge will ask these in the ring.”

Mrs. Bonnie talked about the qualities of what makes a good showman while the youth and kids moved around the practice area. Many of the club members heard her say that working with your goat year round will make for the best showmen. If you take just a few minutes each day, it will pay off at show time. Others felt that when you work with your goat year round, it helps the goat feel more comfortable with you and you with them. This includes walking with your goat, setting them up in the proper position for the judges to view their anatomy and form. Chloe Soots recalls, “The central part the judge is looking at is the mammary system. It is one of the largest point areas on the scorecard.” Danielle suggests, “The judge can tell by how you handle your goat how often your work with her. You will want to keep your hands off your goat as much as possible. Do not scratch them or pet them when in the ring.”

Confidence is also what makes a champion. Danielle suggests, “Wear the correct show attire. This depends on if you are in an open or 4-H or FFA show. It even depends on what region or state you are showing in, but the most common is white boot cut jeans, white long sleeve button down polo shirt, boots, belt, and bolo tie or tie. Look professional in the ring. Hair pulled back and no hot pink or blue hair. Girls bling is fine, but not too much or will be distracting and unprofessional.” All of the members thought practice made for a more confident showman.

As the evening wore on the youth were shown how to correctly “set” their goats. Chloe explains “line up the pin bones to the hocks to the ground for the back legs and the withers to the knees to the ground for the front legs. And you should stand on the other side of the goat.  So think of it as a peanut butter sandwich.  The goat is the peanut butter, and you and the judge are the slices of bread.” Grace suggests “being aware of the other showmen and goats in the ring so that everyone doesn’t bunch up and crowd each other helps the judge to see your goat and your actions in the ring.”

Many new tips were learned from Mrs. Bonnie, and some of the youth shared tips that they have learned by showing in lots of shows. Patrick Wicklein, former Dairy Goat President, and multiple Dairy Goat Champion shared, “watch your expression, often in the ring, you will see people with silly smiles on their face. It is important to look confident and serious about what you are doing it while enjoying it too.” Ian adds, “Always watch the judge the entire time you are in the show ring.” Danielle, a multiple champion concludes “Some Suggestions I have, to use a goat show collar. There is a reason there is such a thing. DO NOT use a dog collar. Don’t brace your dairy goat. Bracing means to put your leg in front of your goat and to push your knee into their chest. You will see this practice with showing meat goats and sheep. With these animals it is allowed, but not with dairy goats. Clip your goats 3 to 6 days before a show. Wash your goat at least before your first show of the season. Watch videos on YouTube of shows so that you know what to expect. When at a show add Gatorade in your goat’s water so they do not become dehydrated. Because we are on well water, the goats will not drink the water when at a show because it is usually city water. WORK HARD! DO YOUR BEST!”

All of the Baltimore County 4-H Dairy Goat members learned a great deal and enjoyed the rest of the evening sharing food and stories at the Weymouth Farm. If you have an interest in dairy goats and would like to join our club, please contact the 4-H office at 410-887-8090 for more information.

Front view of the entire group