Coyote Acres 4-H Club and Kinuso Lakeside 4-H Club members are again anticipating tremendous support for their upcoming East Peace District 4-H Achievement Day June 4 at the High Prairie Agriplex.
Students have been working hard on their projects since last fall and have devoted many hours to the preparation of their animals to present at the show and sale.
Emily Plante, 11, and her sister Mackenzie Plante, 9, are symbolic of the hard-working students in 4-H. Their mother, Lacey Plante, is Lakeside’s beef, foods and general club leader. Her husband, Leonel, is also a beef project leader. Both were former members of 4-H years ago. Ken Sheldon is assistant market beef leader. The beef club has 12 members, the foods club four.
There are also 12 members in the Lakeside 4-H Horse Club, which has their show June 18. Bobby Halliday and Jackie Hodge are the leaders.
The Plantes are both raising Limousin steers. Emily has named her steer Big John, Mackenzie’s is Black Ice.
“I want to learn about beef breeding, grooming and animal health,” says Emily, a three-year 4-H member.
First-year member Mackenzie agrees.
“I want to learn about animal health and learn how to cook and use an oven.”
Emily has already learned a lot.
“The first year I was clueless,” she admits.
She is learning what to feed her animal to maximize its potential and keeps detailed records to help. Each student is required to keep records which they can refer to so they can see what works and what doesn’t. Included is the type of feed and dates, as well as medicines and other treatment.
Both girls agree the most difficult part of raising an animal – besides getting up in the morning! – is the leading. This year, Mackenzie has an animal with a bit more attitude.
“I let my steer get away from me,” she says.
As a result, the animal learns where and how they just might get away from their leader.
“My calf doesn’t mind being led,” says Emily.
“My calf tries to run around,” says Mackenzie, who realized she will need to put in more time before Achievement Day.
But there are tricks the students learn to discourage improper behaviour. Lacey says she has taught them to lead the animals in different corrals, because a different location will prompt the animal to not repeat its behaviour in a new setting.
For many 4-H students, parting with their steer and the knowledge of its inevitable fate is difficult. Many become very attached to their animals with all the time spent raising it.
However, that is no problem for the Plantes.
“I just say he’ll be gone and I’ll get a new one next year,” says Mackenzie.
Emily won’t miss the grooming aspect but it is something she is getting better at as she learns the tricks of the trade.
“I have a hard time with the grooming,” she admits. “I’m scared I’ll cut him with the clippers.”
Sometimes, that nervousness extends to the steer but there is a solution.
“You start at the tail so they can get used to the feeling,” says Emily.
The show portion of Achievement Day begins at 1 p.m. with the Coyote Acres Sheep Projects. Following are the beef projects where Coyote Acres and Lakeside students will show their animals and lead them through several exercises. The sale occurs at 5 p.m. with a supper after the sale.
Lacey realizes there is an economic slump but hopes the public will support the students as they always do.
“We always appreciate the support we get. It’s tremendous, she says.