This has been one of two “Fair weeks” in our family. This week was the County Fair, which is an optional fair for those of us in our 4-H group. Some years we have lots of projects at the County Fair. This year, we only had rabbits and chickens.
The preparations for the fair start the day before we bring the animals. All the chickens going to the fair need a bath. Yes, that’s right. We give the chickens a bath. My son, Greg, is becoming an expert at this. He sets up 3 5-gallon buckets, one with soapy water and 2 with rinse water. The chickens get dunked in the soapy water, then rubbed and scrubbed, using a brush on toe nails, then rinsed twice, once in each bucket. He only brought 7 birds, so the whole process only took about 3 hours this time. It would have taken longer, but he had help from 2 good friends. Since it was hot and sunny out, the birds, who really don’t like being wet, dried off quickly.
On Wednesday, we had to bring all 7 chickens and 7 rabbits to the fair. It was very hot that day, highs near (or at) 100 degrees, high humidity. We spent extra time in the small animal barn spraying our animals to keep them cool. Another trick for keeping rabbits cool is to freeze water in soda bottles and put the frozen bottle in their cage. They lay next to the cold bottle and stay somewhat cool.
Rabbit judging was on Thursday. The rabbit (and chicken) competition has 2 parts. First, the rabbits are judged. The judge looks at each rabbit, comparing it to the other rabbits in the group and to the official standard for that breed. Janelle’s rabbits didn’t do too well in this part. She ended up with 2 white ribbons (3rd place), 2 red (2nd place) and 2 blue (first). In each breed of rabbit, there might be several of each color ribbon awarded.
The other part is the showmanship competition. Each entrant takes a rabbit and talks to the judge, showing how much knowledge they have about their breed of rabbit and of rabbits in general. Janelle did much better here. She won Jr Showman (grades 3-5), with a score of 98 out of 100, and got a trophy for it. This is the second year in a row she won showmanship.
Friday was poultry judging day. Again, there were two parts to the competition: chicken judging and showmanship. Greg’s birds did very well, 8 blue ribbons and 1 red, with one of his birds winning “Best of Class” which means it was the best bird overall in it’s general group, and getting a trophy.
In showmanship, Greg was in the Sr division for the first time. This is for grades 9 and up. He spent over 20 minutes telling the judge everything he knew about poultry. Like Janelle, he won his division and got a trophy.
Tomorrow, we pick up our animals and bring them home until the next fair, the Alto Fair, on Aug 10-11.