4-H’ers say goodbye to animals at auction



Goodbyes can be difficult, especially when you’re as close as Grayson Vague and his beef cow, Rocky.

The two had grown close over the last year and a half as Grayson, 10, has cared for him each day.

"I’ve had him since he was born," he said. "I’ve been washing him, feeding him, watering him and everything."

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Grayson became more and more emotional as he thought about parting ways with his longtime friend in the barn at his Freetown home.

That day came Saturday during the livestock auction at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Brownstown, where 184 animals were bought by local individuals, businesses and organizations.

That hauled in $220,850 for local 4-H’ers who have spent time preparing their animals for the fair, shows and auction.

"Rocky and I are good friends," Grayson said emotionally after the auction.

Dan Vague, Grayson’s father, said he was proud of his son because of the commitment he has had in raising his beef cattle.

"He learned a lot of responsibility," he said. "It takes a lot of work every day, and he’s in the barn every morning and every night. That’s a lot of work for a kid."

It’s also hard to not get attached to the animal since they spend so much time with them, Dan said.

"Sometimes, they’re around them more than their own friends. They take very good care of them," he said.

Richard Beckort with Purdue Extension Jackson County agreed and said all of that time spent feeding, water, grooming, preparing and more can make livestock feel more like pets than animals sold for market.

"Part of the project is teaching them the economics and the production practices of producing livestock," he said.

Beckort said local individuals, businesses and organizations have long supported the local 4-H program through the livestock auction. He said many have told him it is rewarding to see the impact the program has on local youth, which is why they continue to support it.

"It gives those kids an opportunity to recoup some of their investment from what they’ve spent in feed and care for the animal," he said. "It also gives those businesses a chance to step forward and say that this is a worthwhile organization and to reward them for the hard work and activities they have done."

Rebecca Lucas, 16, of Brownstown sold her sheep and said 4-H has had an impact on her through all of the lessons it has taught her.

Patience, work ethic, time management and prioritizing are just some of the skills she felt she has learned throughout her time in the program.

"I have to balance taking care of animals with school and sports," she said. "It can be tough."

Those skills were learned as she spent time feeding, watering, bathing and practicing showing them.

"I also keep them company, and they’re pretty much like my babies," she said.

The sheep didn’t really have a name until a child who was visiting the fair took care of that.

"A little kid named him Rayten," she laughed.

Kassidy Wischmeier, 12, of Tampico sold her cow, Mr. Moo, during the dairy beef portion of the auction.

"It’s really fun and gives me a lot of experience with my animals," she said.

The week of the fair was a busy one for Wischmeier and others, she said. Many only see what the 4-H’ers are doing when they visit the fair, but preparations are done even before the public visits each day, she said.

"We have to walk them every day before the fair, and we’d walk them in the show arena before, and we have to make sure we have plenty of food and water," Wischmeier said.

While the auction marked the end of this year’s fair for the 4-H’ers, the preparations for next year’s fair have begun for many, Beckort said.

"Many immediately start thinking about next year’s project and what they will have and where they will get it," he said. "They also raise breeding animals they showed at the fair that are not being sold, so they will take back home and breed for next year’s show animals. The process just continues on throughout the year."

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Jackson County Fair 4-H livestock auction














Source: Purdue Extension Jackson County


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