So the annual county fair has finally arrived. My family and I have been working with animals and preparing for months. Last night, we started setting up our stalls and making our display. Tonight, we’ll shake up straw to make comfy beds for our girls.
Tomorrow, my mom and I will spend all day clipping the seven Jerseys that are due to move into the fair on Saturday (we’ve actually entered seven Holsteins too, but those don’t move in till Tuesday).
Clipping is simply giving the cow a haircut with a cow-size version of the clippers we use to give my son his summer buzz-cut.
Saturday is the big day – the grand opening of the fair when hundreds of exhibitors will bring their animals, vegetables, cakes, etc., to the fair for a weeklong stay.
Like hundreds of thousands of fairs across the country, each day is jam-packed with dozens of things for exhibitors and the public to enjoy together - contests, milkshakes judgings, french fries, amusement rides, deep-fried vegetables, truck and tractor pulls, candy apples, concerts and much, much more.
For many of us in the agricultural community, summer just wouldn’t be complete without taking our best animals to the local fair. For a lot of other people, summer isn’t whole without a visit to those same fairs.
As an agriculturalist, I’ve learned that I, and others like me, often take our lifestyles, animals and industry knowledge for granted. But the everyday John and Jane Doe, and their children, have no idea what our lives or our industry looks like in our eyes.
This is nothing new, yet I bring it up now because my mom has always taught me to take my time at the fair and use it as an educational tool for the general public. We enjoy speaking with guests about our cows, dropping fun facts along the way:
- A 6-month-old calf can easily weigh 300 pounds.
- A cow can drink a bathtub-full of water in one day.
- A cow typically has her first calf around her second birthday.
- A calf can weigh between 60 and 100 pounds at birth.
- Just because you think the cow is huge doesn’t mean she’s pregnant. They carry babies for nine months just like human mommies.
- Brown cows, a.k.a. Jerseys, do not give chocolate milk, Ayrshires do not give strawberry milk and Guernseys do not give orange milk. All cows give plain white milk.
- You have one stomach; a cow has four.
- The average cow produces 6 to 7 gallons of milk per day. There are 8.6 pounds of milk per gallon so that’s more than 50 pounds per day.
Fair is an exciting, busy time for everyone. If you’re an exhibitor, I encourage you to interact with the public. If you’re just looking, ask questions and get involved.
But most of all – have fun!
~ Jessica Rose Spangler, market editor