1/5/2013 7:00 AM
By Linda Williams Southwestern Pa. Correspondent
“For years I have said that farm kids are good kids,” said Jim Claycomb, a longtime beef farmer from Pleasantville in Bedford County. “They learn about life, death, hard work and responsibility. You don’t see many, if any, farm kids getting into serious trouble.”
For this reason, Claycomb has been willing to help children, grandchildren — even friends — take a steer to the Pennsylvania Farm Show.
The Claycomb farm has produced six reserves or grand champion steers, which have been raised and shown by Nathan Claycomb, Lewis Moore, Justin Claycomb and Ryan Claycomb. Pictures of the champions are displayed in the family’s rec room.
This year, another grandson, Ethan Beegle, son of Susan and Carl Beegle, will be leading a handsome crossbred steer named “Peanut” into the show ring.
Ethan is a member of the Lovely Valley 4-H Club and has shown the grand champion steer at the Bedford County Fair for the past two years. He has been working for the past 18 months getting the steer ready for the show ring.
“He does a good job, perhaps too good of a job,” Claycomb said, laughing. “This is the most spoiled steer I have ever seen. ... That 1,200-pound animal follows around after Ethan without a halter.”
Ethan said he has not missed a day of working with Peanut unless the snow is too deep. A fifth-grader at Chestnut Ridge Elementary, Ethan also enjoys four-wheeling, tractor shows and car shows.
December and January are busy months at the Claycomb farm.
When holiday time arrives, the entire farm is a display of lights that attract Christmas light enthusiasts from miles away, and under the Christmas tree in the living room is a porcelain village that takes days to set up. Ethan says he helps with all of this activity.
The basement of the Claycomb home is referred to as “the barn” because it has been finished with old barn wood and includes a sliding barn door. It’s the ideal spot for family gatherings, including a big New Year’s Day bash.
With school work, holiday responsibilities, and training, grooming and feeding a steer, Ethan is a busy young man. His aim at the Farm Show will, of course, be the No. 1 spot.
“I tell all the kids that raise steer for the farm show to aim for No. 1,” Claycomb said. “They might not make it the first year, but if No. 1 isn’t their goal, why get into it at all?”
And, Ethan’s plan following the Farm Show is to get another steer and start getting ready for 2014.