Big Valley 4Her Nicole Zoller grooms Sandstorm

Big Valley 4Her Nicole Zoller grooms Sandstorm

Byemoor hosts regional 4-H Show and Sale

Big Knife's Kathryn Dolliver swept the major awards at the heifer show at the 4H Beef Show and Sale in Bymoor this past Monday, May 18.

Big Knife’s Kathryn Dolliver swept the major awards at the heifer show at the 4H Beef Show and Sale in Bymoor this past Monday, May 18.

Dolliver secured the Grand Champion Female, Reserve Grand Champion Female, and Grand Champion herd awards for her purebred black Simmental heifer.

The annual Show and Sale was hosted this year by the Byemoor 4H club, filling its arena with 4H club ensembles, coloured t-shirts, and cattle of all colour and breed.

As Lorna Schilling kept a watchful eye on cows, calves and heifers and 4H kids from all over the Stettler district, she couldn’t help reminiscing about her youth with the organization, and then her second turn with it as a leader with her own daughters going through the ranks.

It’s a story that was shared by almost every leader and assistant leader in the Byemoor arena on Monday, May 18, the first of two days of the big culmination of the 4H Cattle clubs.

“The 4H club, for me, is just an opportunity for Alberta’s youth – and the country’s youth – to learn by doing,” Schilling said. “You can develop lots of great skills – public speaking, record books, raising and feeding cattle to this stage.”

Two of Schillings daughters, Lorisa and Kourtney, are now in their 20s and have taken on leadership roles in the 4H, continuing the family tradition.

“For my kids, it’s been the opportunity for jobs and trips, all over the country,” she noted.

Clubs from all over the County of Stettler – Erskine, Big Valley, Byemoor, and the amalgamated east-of-Stettler Big Knife club – had kids with heifers, cows and calves, and pregnant cows on display, ready for judging.

Stettler and District 4H Beef Show and Sale has been going on for more than six decades but travels to different arenas every year, gracing the haunts of the various clubs in the group.

Denise Jacobson, a leader for the Big Knife 4H club, has been a leader for six years, and stepped up when the previous leader stepped down. Kids in the club come from Botha, Gadsby and Donalda.

“I was personally a 4H member for many years with the horse,” Jacobson said. “When my son started with 4H, the only club around was the beef.”

Her son, Rylee, would have had a herd but one of the cows died after birthing its calf earlier this year.

“He was OK with it (eventually),” she said about her son’s loss. “It’s disheartening because it’s a lot of work.”

A cow was found to nurse the orphaned calf, which only needed a few days of bottle feeding after its mother died.

The “bad things” that can happen when raising animals – death birthing calves, disease, accidents and the eventual selling of animals for slaughter – is an aspect 4Hers are exposed to through their work, readying them for some of the difficulties faced by adults in the beef industry.

Doug Duncan, an assistant leader of the Big Valley club, has been involved with the new 4H beef club since 2012, when the club reformed after laying fallow “for a while.”

“The kids get attached to them,” he said. “They’re like pets. That’s farming, that’s what you raise them for. 90 per cent get slaughtered.”

He admitted that there’s still some rough times watching the steers be led away, knowing that the animals are on their way to the abattoir.

“When we’ve got to leave, they get upset, but they do get over it,” he said.

This year was the first year members of the club could manage to bring full herds, raised solely by the 4Her, to show, and the club managed to bring two full herds.

“I was in 4H my whole life, and I just thought it was good for my kids to go into it,” Duncan recalled. He has two boys, 10 and 13, in the club.

“It’s good to keep the traditions alive,” he said. “4H is a good agricultural and farming tradition. It’s nice to see the next generation carry it on.”

After a pizza lunch sponsored by a private company on Monday, 4H clubbers and adults went to a carcass demonstration, learning about butchering techniques and the different part of the cattle the 4Hers are more used to seeing alive, Schilling said.

After the demonstration, the yearling heifers were up for display, groomed and neatened for judging, followed by the female show which allows 4H kids to show off their cows and calves for judging.

On Tuesday, the steer show and sale was held. Results were not available by press time, but will be in next week’s Stettler Independent.