Tag Archives: 4-H

As a mom, I’m thankful for 4-H

I pledge my head to greater thinking…
My heart to greater loyalty…
My hands to larger service…
My health to a better living….

I’ve said the 4-H pledge thousands of times as a youngster growing up, but somehow the words have more meaning now for me as a mom. I strive every day to help my three children believe in themselves, to understand the importance of volunteering to build a strong community, and instill in them the values of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. 4-H is helping me do just that.

There is no thrill greater for me as a mom than watching my kids succeed. I’m not talking about when they win an award or place first in a competition. I’m talking about when you see them start a project from the beginning and dedicate themselves to its successful completion. But one area has helped then more than any other and that’s raising lambs for their 4-H sheep project.

Their work starts when a baby lamb is born. It’s their responsibility to provide the animal with love, food, and training so it’s ready for show day. It’s a big responsibility and one they don’t take lightly.

But, it’s easier to understand if you see them first hand. They love living on a farm, being in 4-H, and caring for the animals. The following video shows my family hard at work preparing for show day, together:

I think the pledge and the 4-H program mean more to me as a mother because its helping me shape my children in to wonderful, productive people. Thanks to this program and living on a farm, I’m seeing my kids gain skills and abilities that will benefit them forever.

Fair is Coming!

Right now, the three middle kids are taking a quick break from working with animals. We have 3 calves and a goat tied up to the deck and the kids are guzzling water while I type this out quickly.

There are still 4 lambs and another goat that need led with horses that should be ridden this evening. Each year we show animals in 4-H as it helps the kids learn responsibility and how to care for animals. It also allows them to learn how to be composed under pressure and how to better present themselves and to share what they know about farming.

My fellow farmers will tell you that this 10:30 break is too late and we should have led the animals at 6:00 AM. As you know, the plan is always to start early, but we had a few other projects first. Our 8 year old boys were helping Grandpa irrigate to try and keep the corn alive in this drought and Cassidy who is 6 was helping clear weeds out of the calf pen because they had eaten some and it was making them feel a bit sick.

Farm chores are a part of our day, the horses, calves, goats, sheep, dogs, and cats are all fed and watered before we begin the rest of our day to water corn and cows and to do whatever else might be on the schedule for the day. My kids work hard and are proud of it, but the best part of this farm work and chores is that it is all about family. The kids have parents or grandparents with them or nearby while they complete their chores and work throughout the day!

With County Fair in a week and a family reunion to host at the farm tomorrow, we had better lead the animals back to barn and get them near the fan before it gets any hotter out. I also need to remind Grandpa that his workforce is being reduced starting tomorrow for the final week of Fair prep which will include preparing the critters for show and completing a few other projects-hopefully welding, woodworking, cooking, and a bit of sewing! Let the craziness of Fair Time Begin, it’s the best time of year!

4-H and the Food You Eat

Hi, my name is Hilary Maricle and I am a 4-Her. I was the kid that grew up spending time with my cattle, not at the pool. The town kids knew that if I had a 4-H event going on that I would be missing volleyball camp and not to schedule anything during the county fair. 4-H was our family time as a youngster.

I have had the most interesting reading over the weekend as I helped my kids work on their 4-H bucket calves and practice horse along with hosting a birthday party for my two daughters and preparing for the 140th birthday party of my family farm next weekend. I appreciated the Eatocracy CNN blog, “Five Reasons to Buy from Your Local 4-H.” as the concept of buying your meat from the local 4-H auction is excellent! The comments that followed this and the follow up blog, “Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?” really made me think, so please read along to get my view of 4-H, specifically the livestock programs.

As a 4-Her myself, a 4-H Mom, and a 4-H Council member, I am proud to say that I learned life lessons daily through 4-H and made my career choices because of those lessons. I work with my children daily to ensure that they will have this same opportunity to understand where their food comes from and how to care for animals.

First, the concept of 4-H “desensitizing” kids seems odd to me as education is not about desensitization, but rather about helping us to understand how our world works and making us better, more informed citizens. Through the education that comes with a 4-Her caring for and showing livestock comes the realization that we must respect the animal who’s service on earth is to feed us. By knowing where food comes from makes people understand that there is more to the meals than the grocery store- knowledge is power.

Second, it is hard to tell your 4-H animal good-bye and know that it has been raised as a meat product. I will be the first to tell you that even as a high-schooler, I cried my eyes out when I sold my cattle at the end of the 4-H year. I am still a sap about the entire life cycle, but at least I have a full and complete understanding of it. 4-Hers spend hours pampering show cattle to ensure that they are the best cared for animals out there. Yes, we grow attached to our animals, but that gives us a respect for all animals and the food that they provide us. I am sure my Mom could dig up a picture or two of me resting at a 4-H show leaning on my calf or treating it like a pet, but an animal raised for meat is not a pet andthose of us that raise the food to feed the world understand this.

Third, I know of no better way to teach a youngster about responsibility and compassion than to require them to care for an animal. In my world growing up and today, the animals are fed and cared for before you will see any food on the table at my house. My boys learned a life lesson this week when they did chores-there will be no going to bed until the animals are cared for, even if it means searching the yard with a flashlight to find a missing water bottle for the rabbit. My children are learning responsibility that goes way beyond keeping a clean room; they have the lives of another creature as their chores. The bucket calves that will be shown at the 4-H Fair next month are completely dependent on my kids’ feeding and caring for them. Were it not for the ability to raise these calves as bucket calves, they would have died as their mothers were not caring for them.

Lastly, my 4-H story revolves around livestock, but it is so much more. I showed cattle, cooked cookies, made shirts, went to camp, and participated in a lot of other activities as a 4-Her. My children are showing cattle, showing rabbits, raising vegetables and flowers, cooking, making crafts, taking photos, taking tractor safety courses, and studying entrepreneurship among other things as part of their 4-H experience. 4-H is all about the entire person as we learn to think about using our head, hands, heart, and health to learn about the world around us and to better serve others.

4-H has been and will continue to be an integral part of my life. I have learned the value of hard work and responsibility and I can guarantee you that my children are having these same values reinforced through their 4-H activities. The reality of the food we eat is that as humans we are the stewards of this animal that will become our meal. It is our responsibility to ensure that the next generation of animal caregivers has every opportunity to understand the entire process that occurs in the cycle of life and 4-H is a great way to facilitate that understanding. I thank 4-H for making me who I am today and I welcome the opportunity to teach others where their food comes from.