Even though I grew up in San Diego County, I lived in a small country town and 4-H was pretty big in that our community. I had some rabbits when we moved to Ramona during 4th grade. I think there was a schoolmate who was in 4-H and I asked my parents if I could join and that was how it all started. As the years passed, I participated in larger projects, including swine and dairy goats.
So, when we moved to the country, it seemed natural to sign Munch, my 12 year-old daughter, up for 4-H, too. Since I had a horse, we decided to get a horse for Munch. Let me say that although I had a horse when I was growing up, I had never participated with it in 4-H, although I did belong to Pony Club for a couple of years. I had no idea the amount of paticipation was involved in a horse project. So, when she first joined in the Fall of 2010, I was overwhelmed.
However, we made it through the County Fair, the culmination, if you will, of your 4-H projects, and apparently forgot how exhausted we were from it all, so we signed Munch up for dairy goats, too. I also signed up to become a Leader. Munch also got a new horse, as the one she used for the previous year acquired a medical condition that didn’t allow us to show her any longer.
I am no longer overwhelmed, but still exhausted. What we do for fair here, doesn’t seem to be anything like it was when I was a kid. This is the schedule for the week of fair:
Get up at 5 AM, leave the house by 6 AM, to be at the barn to feed and clean out stalls by 6:30, so you can attend the mandatory horse division meeting at 7 AM. Horses start the Saturday before the fair begins (the following Tuesday), and there are events everyday, assuming you participate in all of them. If you have another animal in the livestock barn, then you have a 8 AM meeting over in that section. Barn duty for each project is spread throughout the day, and families are asked to stay late at least one night for security reasons. Seriously, after you’ve been there since 6:30 AM, what’s the big deal of staying until 11 PM, right? And all this fun is done during what is typically the hottest week of summer, as it was this year. Triple digits every day.
Munch had a ton of fun this year. And that is really what it is all about. 4-H teaches youth responsibility and builds character. She had her new horse to work with and her two goats. Who knows if she will add another project? Swine? At least they make money….