Being a 4-H member is a lot of work, but there are also rewards
South Peace News
You can certainly say that Gillian Blackhurst and her love for animals comes naturally.
She was born and raised on a farm in Prairie Echo surrounded by thousands of cattle, mixed in with a sprinkling of other barnyard animals.
Is it no wonder she loves being a part of the Coyote Acres 4-H Club?
Blackhurst, 10, joined 4-H two years ago as soon as she was eligible. She is a second year member of the beef and lamb projects, and first-year member of the horse and canine projects.
“I love working with animals and in 4-H you can work with all different animals and work with friends,” she says.
She also loves the competitions and winning awards.
“Last year I got first place,” she beams.
Her win came in Junior Showmanship – Beef Project.
Fireball was so well-trained, she says, she could have rode him in the arena.
This year, Blackhurst is raising a steer named Blaze and a lamb named Dapple. It might be a lot of work raising two animals in two projects but it’s a job she takes very seriously. There is feeding, vet care, showmanship training and record keeping.
“It’s not easy,” she says about keeping records.
“You have to remember where you put all the information.”
And sometimes – well – things get lost, or at least misplaced.
Last year, Blackhurst parted with a steer named Fireball. For many 4-H’ers, it can be difficult parting with an animal they cared for very much.
But not her!
“I didn’t really care,” she says. “You know they have to leave and you get used to it.”
And being on a cattle farm, animals come and go as part of the business. That financial fact is not lost on Blackhurst.
“I might have missed him more but I got $6,630.” I like the money.”
She also realizes cows at the farm are sold for meat if they are open.
Besides feeding her animals, they must also be trained. 4-H’ers also competed in showmanship, and it takes a lot of work to train an animal – sometimes more depending on the animal’s disposition.
To prepare for the local show, Coyote Acres members attended Peace Prospect at the Valleyview Agriplex April 13. Frankly, it was a good training for the members, especially Blackhurst, who had a bit of a runaway with Blaze. After the show, she went to work to better train him.
“We had to get a radio so he’s used to difference noises,” she says.
And the judge gave her some tips such as looking at the judge during the showmanship competition, and to always make sure the animals is beside her.
“If he’s too far ahead, he can bolt,” she says.
It’s a part of preparing for the show and sale. Leading up to the show, Blackhurst has everything pretty much under control. What’s left now is to prepare her stall. Voting for best stall this year will be done by the public. Everything from best display to cleaning the stall will be judged.
“You have to keep it clean and pick up manure,” she says.
Although only a two-year member, she is confident about the upcoming show.
She also shares some advice for anyone considering joining 4-H.
“You get to meet more kids and different people and you work with your community and learn new things,” she says. “There’s lots to learn.
And because the community is so generous each year in its support of 4-H, giving back is important. Each member volunteers in the community ranging from the Festival of Trees, planting flowers, volunteering at Pleasantview Lodge, helping at the High Prairie Gun and Sportsman Show, and much more.
Blackhurst is the daughter of Ted and Leigh Blackhurst.
Coyote Acres 4-H Achievement Day
Saturday, May 25 at the HP Agriplex
Show starts at 1 p.m. – Sale after supper at 6 p.m.
Free to attend – Everyone welcome!
Come and see all of Coyote Acres 4-H projects
under one roof – multiple projects will be on display!