Most farmers get excited about showing me their new tractor or planter. Terry and Susan Hayhurst, Terre Haute, were most excited when I visited recently to show me how they interact with 4-H kids in the community. Some are relatives or neighbor's kids – some are just kids that need a place to learn about an animal and learn about 4-H.
Related: Keeping 4-H a Family Tradition
Twelve kids kept either a pig or calf at the Hayhurst farm last year, and then showed it at the Vigo County Fair. This year the number will be tilted toward claves, with still nearly a dozen kids taking part.
"This is something we love to do as a family," Terry says. "The kids help out when they can, and come out and work their animals. It's not a free ride – we expect them to work."
Building 4-H teamwork, work ethic
The experience has been rewarding, Susan agrees. One family drives nearly 40 minutes one way to bring their daughter to come work with calves, getting them broke and ready to show. The Hayhursts have a purebred Hereford herd, and the calves that the kids show come from their herd.
Terry buys pigs for the kids that want to show pigs at the fair. He used to raise hogs, but phased out of that enterprise and shifted more toward grain farming and beef cattle several years ago.
"The cattle business is a passion for all of us, including our own kids," Susan says. Their daughters are now out of 4-H, but the family plans to continue working with kids and letting them learn about animals as long as there are kids interested in coming out and participating in the project.
The fair days get hectic, but Terry says the kids learn how to work together. Since adults aren't allowed to groom animals, the kids learn how to help each other, and how to get animals both ready for show, and get them back and forth from the show ring.