Pheeeeeeeww. We did it!
The whole Schenanigans Clan went to the Hereford Junior Farm Fair today, and took nearly half the farm with us! I started my day by sneaking into the hen house at 6:30am and grabbing Batman the Barnevelder and Neigh-Neigh the Light Brahma Bantam before they awoke and ran around the yard with the rest of their girl gang. Batman went into a crate, and Neigh-Neigh came down to the basement with me.
The slop sink held a galvanized tub of hot sudsy water, and I gently submerged most of the bird, making she her feet touched the bottom for support. Girlchild held Neigh-Neighs breastbone in her palm to prevent a Baptist baptism, and I applied dish soap to her brassy white feathers, hoping it was dirt. Nope, the sun had turned them brassy, and they were never going to be white by today’s show time. Oh well, since I had already severely clipped her wings before we decided to show her, I was placing no eggs in this basket of ribbon dreams. Only Manchild made the decision that Neigh-Neigh was show material.
After blow drying the top half of Neigh-Neigh (who loved the soak, but not so much the blow-out), I stuck one clean chicken with a soggy undercarriage into the pet carrier. Looking out at the yard I saw Batman streak past like a naked man, running towards the wood pile. Darn it, Batman! She is our hardest hen to catch, and don’t know how she escaped my crate.
Captain Schenanigans and I managed to pin Batman down in some plastic chicken fencing after about 10 minutes of looking like crazy white folk, and brought her into the house to record her bracelet number on required paperwork(proof she was tested for illness). Her bracelet was no longer on her leg. Darn it, Batman!
I had no idea if Batman could show now or not. Captain Schenanigans walked the yard, and found nothing. Both of today’s show birds are disease-free and documented, but there’s nothing to prove Batman was the tested bird. I called the 4-H Bird Tester Lady, who assured me she will help plead Batman’s case, and to bring her anyway. Turns out, a call had to be placed to the State of Maryland to ensure Batman was able to compete. Darn Batman.
So, one soggy and one jewelry-free hen angrily waited in a pet carrier, too worked up to eat their breakfast. I move on to bunnies, while the rest of the crew is in charge of supplies I select pet carriers and load accordingly. Good Bunny and his wife are each in separate pet carriers, and all 4 babies ride along with their mama for display purposes only. Only Good Bunny is getting shown. Apparently lactating is frowned upon in the judges circle. Shrug.
Since my Honda Pilot was totaled last week (no injuries), I was driving my dad’s HHR. That meant 2 bunny carriers stacked on top of each other in the trunk with our folding chairs, and one pet carrier full of hen wedged between 2 booster seats in the back. We got cozy
After that the day got much easier. We checked in, unloaded, were mobbed by fellow 4-H children wanting to hold the baby bunnies, and dished out food and water to each critter according to it’s species and preferred method of drinking.
Soon afterwards we were joined by both sets of grandparents, my brother and sister-in-law, and friends from 3 families from church. I appreciated all their support, letting my kids show off their animals.
When the showing was all said and done, Manchild ended up with 2 First Place ribbons and 2 Grand Champion ribbons for his hens. We were shocked! I over heard a judge being informed that the Brahma was still wet underneath. Oops. I forgot how long it takes chickens to dry. But I have to admit, I forced Manchid to enter the Barnevelder because I knew she was a rare breed and had the best chance of taking home a ribbon. Neigh surprised us all.
Girlchild took First Place with her bunny and we could not have been prouder! There were a lot of Mini Lops, and having one of the few solid colored ones helped her win in that category. Girl Bunny was actually the most popular there, thanks to her ADORABLE family, and she wasn’t even showing. Just barn candy!
After we were free from our obligations, we were able to slip out of the barn and explore the rest of the fair. Girlchild and I learned a lot about rain water run off and pollution at the Garden Center, and she donned a velcro-striped bee costume to collect hidden velcroed ping-pong balls of “pollen” around the flowers. It was very cute. We also sampled some of the 30-40 hybrid varieties of tomatoes on display, and really enjoyed the yellow ones. Who knew?
There were also baby Monarch caterpillars that just hatched today, eggs in waiting, and late staged chrysalis. One amazing woman hatches thousands of them!
Manchild and Captain Schenanigans enjoyed riding the tractor-pulled tram for a solid 45 minutes as Manchild stared at the hitch and wheels working together. They eventually joined us in the Garden Center, and Manchild practiced being the bee for a while, before helping Girlchild on a scavenger hunt.
By the time 3pm rolled around, and we were allowed to take our animals home, we had seen each exhibit twice, the kids were more than ready to go. It was HOT! They collected the money they earned by competing ($8 for Manchild, $4 for Girlchild) and we celebrated with Rita’s Italian Ice and Ledo’s Bacon Pizza for dinner. The kids had already discussed breaking their money up in to Save, Spend, and Give categories, then proceeded to work on cleaning out their Spend amount by buying treats at a gas station less than one mile from the Fair. It was a car full of happy campers, minus the chickens. They were wedged in at an angle and tended to fuss as we went around turns.
But we did it, we are proud, and we are tired. How Manchild managed to rack up 5 ribbons in 24hrs (did I mention they each won a ribbon the night before at the Pet Show) is beyond me. I could not be happier for each of them (Girlchild actually beat real life competition) and am ready for a year of re-coup before we do it all again!