The Junior Livestock Auction was the place to be Saturday morning as 4-H, FFA and Grange members gathered at the Vicini Pavilion of the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. There to bid and cheer them on were parents, buyers and the public.
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Beef, swine, sheep, rabbits, goats and poultry were up for sale with auctioneers Doug Milton, Jimmy Clark and Seth Seever keeping things moving. Getting a break, this year’s weather was much cooler so less time was spent hosing down the animals and attendees.
Waiting for their turn at auction was Tanner Lund, 15, and Isabella Strauss, 16. Both in FFA, Lund was there to sell his Supreme Grand Champion Boer goat for a hoped-for price of $6 a pound. Strauss was also there to show and sell Boer goats.
Nearby, a line of young 4-H girls carried in their chickens, rabbits and turkeys for sale. Decked out in their Saturday best, the rabbits were seated in large straw hats. One large turkey was too big to be picked up by its tiny owner, so the youngster did her best to push it from behind.
The auction area itself was choked with those bidding and others whooping it up. One of those buyers on the sidelines was Dallas Sweeney of Placerville who was waiting for the swine to come up for auction.
“I raised beef when I was in 4-H and my son will do so next year,” he said. “I’m here to support the program by buying a hog. When you buy here, you know you’re getting good meat and helping the kids as well.”
Amidst all the bustle of the auction was the action happening elsewhere to get the animals ready for show. In the pens, youngsters were washing and brushing their livestock while others decorated them for show.
Olivia Vance, 16, sprinkled her 248-pound pig, named Niguel, with glitter. Snoozing after his win as Supreme Champion Swine, Vance attributed Niguel’s success to her continually working with him. “I would run him up and down the hills every day and feed him extra because he loves to eat and puts on weight easily,” she said.
Jake Williams, 10, did the same with his pig, Homer, who earned the title of 4-H Grand Champion Swine and Reserve Supreme. Williams said he would walk Homer once a week, and then prior to the fair took him for a walk every day to build up his muscles.
Meanwhile some of the pigs made a break for it, creating a minor commotion as their owners chased them down. Jessica Thomson, 10, had her pig, Hamzilla, get loose. All was forgiven as Thomson noted that although it was a lot of work raising and caring for Hamzilla, the money she will get from her sale will go towards college and a car. “I got into 4-H because my two older sisters did it and they said they had a lot of fun,” she said.
All the other 4-H and FFA youngsters said much of the same. Mark Schofner, 18, who was there to sell his steer, said he has made $3,000 so far as a result of his participation in FFA and plans to use the money towards college. Next Friday he leaves for Oklahoma to work on the family ranch where he will brand, move and show cattle as well as do what he can to help promote the ranch. “I want to get into the business and breed cattle,” he said, though noting that “it’s hard to make money in this business.”
The youngster who seems to have gotten the most out of FFA and 4-H, however, was Adrianna Novelo, 16, who was there to sell her steer as well as show her animals. Novelo won Champion Cow and Calf overall, Supreme Champion Female and Champion Heifer, and Showmanship. She said six of her other heifers also won first in their class.
Novelo did all that despite suffering a tragic accident in March of this year resulting in one of her legs being amputated. Novelo had to stay in the hospital a month due to a broken back, injury to her spine and traumatic brain injury. “I lost my priorities then,” she said. “It was really difficult. But during that time everyone in the group took care of my animals. They would clean the pastures and wash and feed them. They went above and beyond.”
Once released from the hospital, Novelo used crutches to get around, which made it harder to care for her animals. “I had to train my girls to walk with me when I was on crutches,” she said. “I had them on an intense training schedule and would walk them three times a day.”
A week ago Saturday she got a prosthetic leg and now feels back in the swing of things. “I couldn’t go into the pasture until then because once before I tried to with crutches and fell. Now I feel normal again,” she said.
Saying she will use the money from selling her steer to increase her herd, she said what she does is not just for the money. “I’m president of my local 4-H club and I enjoy teaching others what I have learned.
“FFA and 4-H have given me my life back since the accident.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.