July 23, 2024

Rural Issues: Beating the heat at fair exhibits, shows

It has been an extraordinarily dry summer in my neck of the woods. Our farm lies in an area designated by “exceptional drought.”

We are grateful for the inch and two tenths of rain we received last week, but like many others we are praying for more. That was our first measurable precipitation since April.

The smell of rain equates to pure joy and relief during a drought. I have always loved the smell, but it is an olfactory delight these days. I had forgotten how much I liked it!

Livestock show day at one of the local fairs was a hot one. Typically, I would be disappointed to have to miss it because of a meeting in an air-conditioned room, but I did not complain this time.

Many people braved the heat to exhibit and to watch the shows. There were plenty of powerful fans.

Some animals were benefiting from sprinklers or misters spraying water on them. Nearly every exhibitor had a bag of ice in a cooler nearby.

When the grand champion steer was selected and it was time for cattle showmanship, the judge told the kids to leave their animals in the stalls and come back to the ring for showmanship.

The judge thought the cattle needed to lay down and he knew the young men and women had worked extremely hard all day and the heat radiated by several thousand-pound-plus animals was significant.

He had seen these young people in action so knew who had the qualities that would earn them showmanship recognition.

I hope someone who does not raise hogs, cattle, sheep, or goats walked through the barns or stopped to take in one of the livestock shows on that miserably sweltering day. I hope they saw how concerned the exhibitors were for the welfare of their animals.

I hope they saw the teenager positioning the fan, so air was moving over his heifer when she repositioned herself.

I hope they saw the 9-year-old girl carrying a 5-gallon bucket with water sloshing over the sides, drenching her boots and her jeans, as she was making sure her pigs had plenty to drink.

I hope they saw families working together to make sure the kids and the livestock did not overheat.

I hope the high school history teacher, local bank branch manager, librarian and sales manager from the local car dealership were appreciative and not disappointed that they missed the first hour of the hog show.

It started early to limit the amount of time both people and hogs needed to be moving about. Exhibitors were alerted to the early start time the night before.

I hope these representatives from the local community will have a better understanding of how the welfare of the animals and those working with them — not the time of day — dictates the schedule on a livestock farm.

I hope all those 4-H, FFA and other youth in the community who exhibited at the fair went home feeling good about the industry, its practices and its people.

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.