The Marshall County Fair
I didn’t grow up out here in the wide open, but I did grow up loving the fair! The MN State Fair that is. I love the food, the animals, the booths and info, the art, the machinery, I even like the heat and the farmers tan you leave with. But growing up I didn’t really experience the county fairs the way that people up here do. I do remember going to a county fair or two, but nothing that really sticks out in my memory. I must have been pretty young. So when J said we might take some of our fancy ladies up to the Marshall County Fair this year I was excited to see what it was all about!
WORK! That’s what it’s about!
We decided to take some of my favorites cows Penny, Esther, Cynthia and their calves Euro, Elusive and Election up to the fair. I was a bit worried because all the cows I have ever seen at the state fair are usually on halters being led around by young 4Hers. Ours cows and halters! haha! Esther has never even been in a barn! 😳
J assured me that they would be fine in their pens and there was no need to walk them around. The judges would just judge them in their pens. “We breed these for production, not show”, he said. “They understand up there”. So we made a plan to bring them.
Load and a Wash.
We got up early Thursday morning and started to put our plan into action. 1st we had to get all the ladies in the corral and washed. Well, Esther hid her brand new baby in the woods and we couldn’t find it, and she sure wasn’t about to leave without him, nor were we. It took us a good 45 minutes to find him… hence his name “Elusive”. Actually we didn’t even find him, our pup Sherman found him. I might have just walked right over him if it wasn’t for the dogs. J brought the 4-wheeler and the calf sled I picked the calf up and laid in the sled and off we went with Esther chasing us at full speed. There is nothing quite like laying on a thin piece of plastic being drug across the ground, bump over bump, holding a 100lb kicking calf and watching its mad mama chase after you snorting. She sure looked a lot bigger from that angle, and not quite as nice. We were just about to the corral and all of a sudden that discontent calf started to settle down and the sled suddenly felt oddly warm. Wouldn’t you know it, that damn calf peed and shit all over me! I was soaked! This hour long fiasco was certain to change our time schedule.
Well we were supposed to wash these ladies before we brought them up to the fair but now it was clear we didn’t have the time so into the trailer they went. Jason started spraying them off while I ran to the house to take a shower. I was covered! My shirt, pants, socks, I even had pee down my boots!
Once they had the big chunks of poop off them we headed for town.
⬆️ Here I am super exhausted and of course it's just another day for J-Buck! 😩
I was dreading pulling the calves out of the trailer…. I knew they would lay down in that sloppy shit water that was all over the bottom of the trailer on the way in. So of course we needed to wash them again once we got to the fair.
Unloading went pretty well. We just backed the trailer into the barn and grabbed some gates. Russ and this lovey lady Rosie helped us get them out and walk them to their pens. Cynthia and Esther did not like the idea of getting out and walking on the concrete. It took a while to get them to step out. Penny on the other hand walked out with confidence, just like she owned the place. She is “Quite the Penny” as J would say.
Once they were in the pens Jason brushed and sprayed them and got the fans up. I put up our signs so people would know who each cow and calf was and what farm they were from.
The day could have gone a bit better… but we did it. Esther wasn’t loving being in the barn, and though she is the sweetest (aside from this morning’s chase) she got a bit snorty when kids came around. Eventually we had to put up a sign asking people not to reach in for the brand new baby just to be safe.
Time to Enjoy
For the next few days we enjoyed just being at the fair, eating all sorts of food that should give you a heart attack and mingling with people who came to walk through the barn and see the animals.
I got to know some of the other people who were showing as well, and many people who Jason grew up with too. Fair time is kind of like a homecoming for people around here. A time to come back to their roots and mingle with each other. I found it very interesting that people didn’t just come for one day, but they all seemed to go up to the fair everyday. The Marshall County Fair is a big County Fair. I have never seen the town of Warren so full. Day after day you would be lucky to find a parking spot anywhere in town.
Watching the young kids leading horses, cows, goats and sheep around is amazing! The highlight of the fair for me was watching a little plucky, blonde 5 year old girl leading her horse and cows around like it was nothing. She had dirt in her face and gumption in her heart… seeing this restored my faith in the next generation. She and her sister were amazing to watch. They reminded me that kids can love the outdoors and enjoy life without having to be constantly entertained by adults. They had an independence I admired and they gave me hope for my kids in the future.
I watched these two little girls just love their cows, feeding and watering them, cuddling with them, playing video games and using them as a backrest and even sleeping ON them! Jason pointed out that it was nice to see kids who are not so overly obsessed with screens and have enthusiasm to care for animals. It’s a lot of work taking care of these cows. Hauling heavy hay, straw and buckets of water and cleaning up after them to keep the barn as clean as possible… the work made me tired but I never once saw these cuties complain. They love their animals with all their hearts, and they show it with their endless work ethic and you can see the reflection of love in the animals they care for.
As the long hot days went by, the judging came and went with blue and red ribbons and we started to look forward to Sunday when we would be able to take our big girls home again.
Penny and Euro
Esther and Elusive
Cynthia and Election
I was shocked at how well they did. Esther had settled down by the weekend and when it was time to leave Penny didn’t want to go. She loves to be the center of attention. She was the first out of the trailer and the last to get back in. It was almost like she was saying, “no let me stay”.
Jason’s dad and brother Josh came to help load up and clean. It was awesome having more hands, made things go quicker. Once everything was cleaned up we got all the supply’s we brought and said goodbye to all the wonderful people we spent the week with. I was sad to see it come to an end.
I am thankful that Jason shared yet another fabulous experience with me. I realized how jealous I am that he got to grow up this way. Working with these big animals teaches courage and independence. Watching the kids and how unfazed they were when a cow got away from them just stunned me. That’s where I would panic, but people who grow up caring for these huge animals realize that there is no time for panic, just time for decision making and staying calm is always best.
This week I learned a lot about who Jason is and how he grew up, why he is so calm all the time and why nothing seems to faze him. It is such an admirable trait that I wish I possessed… and hope to learn someday.
In the end my appreciation for the people who partake in the fair exhibits and competitions has greatly risen and they have earned my respect. Especially people who work with animals. We threw our presentation together pretty last minute, but it was a lot of work before, during and after. Very rewarding work, but work all the same. I can only imagine how much work everyone else puts in with hopes of winning so they can go on to the state fair!
I am very excited to head to the great Minnesota get together later this fall but I will also wait with happy anticipation for future county fairs too! It’s no longer about the food on a stick or rides for me, it’s about the incredibly hardworking people and what I can learn about life from them!