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Be careful what you wish forPosted Friday, July 29, 2011, at 5:42 PM
By the numbers it is indeed impressive.
Two boys, 28 years experience in 4-H and FFA combined. 16 county fairs, 12 state fairs and numerous livestock shows.
At least 34 calves -- with names that indicate the years they might have shown, like Holmes -- as in Priest; Dante -- as in Hall; or T-Rich -- as in Tony Richardson. It's easy to remember that year, 2003, the year our beloved Kansas City Chiefs started out at 9-0.
Our string of fairs started out, though, with a bottle calf at age 6 and another at age 7.
When the boy turned 8, he bought a one-week-old bull calf named Whitey. A few months later, the skinny bottle calf -- not even weighing 200 pounds -- easily followed his little boy around the ring at the annual Bottle Calf show.
A year later, Whitey again let the small boy lead him around the show ring, still following as if a puppy. But this time, the 1,300-pound calf dwarfed his 9-year-old exhibitor.
The other numbers are also easy to remember.
There were 14 cured hams, 13 actually made it to the fair. (One became a meal for a hungry dog named Rudy, who managed to sneak into the breezeway at a very opportune time.)
There were at least 10 woodworking projects, including two sets of stilts, a chair and a bench and eight welding projects. Plus, at least 45 vegetables, ranging from award-winning potatoes to not-so-great green beans, depending on the year.
There was one beautiful indoor water garden, done several weeks in advance, with real plants, rocks and a fountain.
Along with the calves and projects came 252 blue, red and purple ribbons.
As 4-H ended and FFA began, the "inside" projects became less important and "easier," consisting of soybeans and corn -- both plants from the current season, as well as jars of soybeans and corn, harvested the year before.
The heat, lack of sleep and over-stimulation of us all, led to some of the numbers we will soon forget, like the 563 fights between siblings or the 323 "realistic" threats we gave them... "If you two don't quit fighting, your father and I are moving to Alaska and not leaving a forwarding address ..." Not to mention the "disagreements" between tired spouses.
Other numbers include:
--One trip to the emergency room;
--One blown out air-conditioner, (and one very hot night);
--16 thunderstorms (It's not the fair without a window-rattling thunderstorm.);
--521 long evenings, short nights and early mornings;
--2,247 cans of Mountain Dew and misc. soft drinks. (During the fair, our one pop a day rule goes out the window, and two little boys took advantage);
--2,321 bottles of water;
--65 bags of ice;
--635 barbecued burgers;
--and at least 24,338 good memories with friends and family.
This year I watched another wonderful fair go by. But this year, for me, it was different. It was the first time in 16 years I viewed the fair as a spectator and reporter, instead of a mother.
And I couldn't help but wonder about the times I might have wished it away...
"I can't wait until you get bigger and can join 4-H," ..."I can't wait until they get bigger, and I won't worry so much about the boys leading a calf,"...or "I can't wait until you are older, and no longer need my help,"
I realize now, it all went by in the blink of an eye.
As a young mother, I heard it many times, but ignored it just the same.
"Enjoy each moment, they go by faster than you think,"
And now I know it is true, "Be careful what you wish for ..."
Marcia Gorrell is the agriculture reporter for The Marshall Democrat-News.
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Marcia Gorrell is the agriculture reporter for The Marshall Democrat-News. She specializes in featuring FFA and 4-H students and writes an ongoing series on Century Farms in the county.