Sunday, August 12, 2007
Another county fair has come and gone. My daughter has spent the better part of this week in a sale barn with temperatures soaring above the 100 degree mark.
It's always a challenge: waking early to make sure the animals are fed and watered, walking the sheep in the heat without exhausting them and the apprehension that comes before going out into the arena.
The environment inside a sale barn is unlike any other.
The sounds of cattle, swine and sheep fill the area and giant fans swirl hot, humid air around to relieve the heavy stillness. Animals are brushed and groomed to look their finest before they take the stage; some waiting patiently and others, fighting for a piece of independence. Sweat glistens on young brows as a new breed of farmers walk the animals around the arena. Eyes are intent and serious as they make contact with the judge and hopes are high that their animals will be behave in an appropriate and controllable manner.
Hearts race as placements are called, and smiles shine on a first place standing. The classes are many and patience is a necessity. Boredom and laziness have no place in agriculture, and perseverance can be rewarding. Though there are no guarantees that hard work will pay off, it usually comes through in one way or another.
When it came time for the sale, the auctioneers took turns; spewing numbers across the top of the crowd and teasing each entry in good-natured fun. Buyers raised numbers for their favorites; sometimes choosing to keep the livestock but often, bidding simply to help these young people earn money for their efforts. Just another example of the agricultural spirit.
Handshakes and hugs were exchanged and animals let go. Pens were broken down, benches moved and floors swept as another fair came to a close.
Though the final outcome is known from the get-go, it's still difficult letting go of an animal that, through sweat and tears, has come into your family. The transition this year was a little easier as time added another mark of maturity. Besides, even though we know the true fate of an FFA animal, we choose instead to believe that they will forever be frolicking in a grassy, green meadow!