I’m working on my next novel Sunflower Serenade which is set at the county fair. In getting information from “fair folk” I was sent this story. It was too great not to share!
I was five years old, she was 1. She was twice my size, fuzzy, stubborn and wouldn’t let me anywhere near her. She was only a lamb, but to me she might as well have been an elephant. She was beyond my control and I was sure she was completely capable of killing me if she had the chance. Even still, Dad was determined that I would break her and be able to show her in our annual livestock show and sale.
I watched as he haltered her for the first time – she turned into a wild beast jumping and bucking with no regard for what was around her. I was horrified. Before too long though, I was leading her around with Dad at my side. I was pretty proud of myself and really beginning to bond with Snowball. But those images of that first haltering haunted me. I was so scared she would trample me that anytime she flinched, I let go.
Snowball stayed at our barn where we kept our horses. I worked with her in a paddock area that normally stayed locked. That day, however, the fence was apparently left open. I’m sure you can imagine what happens next – snowball flinched, I freaked, let go and she fled. I mean she took off! Of course, at 5, I did nothing except watch and begin weeping uncontrollably as she ran past my grandmother’s house and shot off like a rocket toward the highway. My dad and my older cousin ran after her on foot. I don’t remember the rest of the details of the whole event, but I know they involved the town drunk, a horse and my mom’s car. That stupid sheep ran about three miles and only stopped because she got to the bank of the intercoastal waterway where the crew finally caught up with her and hauled her home. (I think that’s the part where the town drunk and my mom’s car come into play). My dad hated that sheep.
Fast forward to the day of the show and sale….we did great! I think I won second place showman overall and had a blast. The whole point, however, of these “shows” is to fit an animal to be suitable for the dinner table and then show her off the best you can to get the best price you can. At five years old, I’m not sure I was fully prepared for this reality. At the auction, you are supposed to display your animal in front of an audience of hundreds that includes prospective buyers. Mind you, my father was one of the county agents in charge of this entire event. Instead of displaying my animal and looking cute so that I could bring in a good chunk of change toward my college education, I threw a major tantrum. I screamed and cried and slung snot so bad that my Grandfather, “Pap” had to buy that lamb back and retire her to the horse farm. We kept the gates locked tight though…
I have tons of other stories…getting bucked off my horse at horse camp; the steers getting away and staying gone for a week; traveling the southern U.S. with my horse judging team; winning state and national championships for public speaking; sneaking out of my room at conferences to do nothing in particular; the night my dad busted us for hiding a boy in our closet (completely innocent – I promise); forcing myself to go to sleep on the bus on the way up the mountain to go skiing so I wouldn’t feel it if we crashed and the list could go on all day. In my career as a 4-H agent, I have equally as many stories, if not more (although a slightly different perspective): getting peed on by the pigs at the livestock show; busting up hog fights; the time the kid had diarrhea all over the charter bus on the way home from camp and I had to clean it up; the little tricks and techniques you use for making sure kids don’t sneak out at conferences; all our crazy catch phrases that we used to insure integrity at the 4-H dances (like “leave room for the Holy Spirit” or “I came here with 10 kids, I’m not leaving with 11”) and that list could go on forever too!
Thanks for sharing Cameron. These are so great. What about you…any one out there have a “fun” 4H story?