July 11, 2013
Farmer gives helping hand
New Penn Farm owner lends his cattle to Junior Fair participants
Carl Hinkle, owner of New Penn Farm in Truxton, is leasing beef heifers for this year’s Junior Fair, giving children who do not own their own animals a chance to experience what showing cattle is all about.
“It’s a pretty common thing,” said Jeanatta Lautermilk, a 4-H educator who works at New Penn helping children train their animals for competition. “It started back in the 1980s when the rules were changed so that you didn’t have to own the animal you were showing.”
“They offered up their cattle this year,” said Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H educator for Cortland County Rebecca Ireland-Perry. “We advertised it to the kids and let them know that if they wanted to show cattle, they could.”
Those who chose to show cattle at this year’s Junior Fair shouldered a weight of responsibilities, and many were quick to stress that cattle showing is no light commitment.
“This isn’t like a five-minute video game,” Lautermilk said. “It’s a six-month-long project.”
Cattle showers first met their cows in February, and have worked diligently to get their show animals up to snuff.
“You’ve got to teach them to walk, how to follow a halter,” said 16-year-old Homer High School student Rebecca Eichorst, who showed her leased cows, Cora and Wren, at the fair on Wednesday. “You also have to brush them a lot and wash them a lot and learn how to set their feet.”
Eichorst, who showed cattle when she lived in Wisconsin, said that after a long time away from competition, she thought it would be fun to show new breeds.
“Different breeds have different muscular structures, and can have different temperaments too.”
Homer High School junior McKenzie Brown credits her experience showing cattle with helping her in her goal of pursuing a career with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“I’ve definitely learned the benefits of true hard work,” said Brown, who was first introduced to cattle showing during a tour of New Penn Farm through her involvement in Future Farmers of America, an organization with the goal of agricultural education.
“Last night I slept in the barn with my mom,” Brown said. “Someone had to watch the cows and make sure that they were OK.”
Although New Penn does not gain financially from its leases, there are other benefits.
“It helps promote the farm,” Hinkle said. “But the animals are also going to be easier and safer to work with because they’ve been trained for competition.”
Apart from these supplemental benefits, the real payoff Hinkle gets from the leasing program is getting children interested and involved in cattle showing and livestock.
“I get as much satisfaction watching the kids as the kids do showing the cattle,” Hinkle said. “The impact it makes with them, improving their confidence and getting them in competition, is really amazing.”
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