Late this morning I took a stroll to the Dairy Barn to see if I could find out a little more about what goes on behind the wooden walls and the distinct cow smell we all know. As we walked past the stalls I saw two girls sitting on folding chairs and I thought, “They look like 4-H’ers.” Simple fact: 4-Her’s look 4-Hish.
Grace Stroud, is a 4-year member of 4-H. She is here at the State Fair with 3 of her dairy cows: Gabby, Morgan, and Carley. Grace’s love for dairy cows comes with the family. Her dad had cows when he was younger, and when Grace was little he bought a cow for the family and brought it home. That was love at first sight for Grace in terms of dairy cows. She has 7 more cows back home, and has participated in cow shows ever since she was six. This is Grace’s second year at the State Fair. Last year she won a couple awards for her cow, and this year she is again busy grooming them for the upcoming show.
Dawson, another 4-H’er I found working in the Dairy Barn, has been a member of 4-H for 8 years and has been showing his cows at the State Fair for the past two or three years. Dawson’s history with dairy cows goes all the way back; dairy cows have been in his family for 30 years, not to mention the 500 cows he has back home. Dawson is here at the State Fair with one of his cows, Bailey, and spends most of his time preparing her for the show.
Here at the Dairy Barn, general daily work includes washing and feeding the cows, answering people’s questions, letting kids pet the cows, and sometimes just sitting around and relaxing; but most importantly grooming the cows for the shows. Grace described for me what the judges look for in the show: ability to make lots of milk, nice legs to walk around on, and a good body weight. The best part of working in the Dairy Barn and showing at the State Fair? Grace says, “You get to enjoy your relationship with your animal, and meet people who also have cows and make friends.” Dawson’s response was similar: “Showing your cows, and experiencing it all with your friends.” So far as dairy cows are concerned, both Grace and Dawson want to keep doing this, and plan to come back next year.