Pike County 4-H’ers take district, state honors

Published 10:44 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

Few people know the many hours and hard work that goes into showing calves on a competitive level.

But ask Morgan Dubose, Josh Graham and Morgan Graham of Pike Liberal Arts School. Or Colton Johnson, Goshen Elementary School and Clay Powell, Goshen High School.

Cody Johnson and Kate Johnson of Charles Henderson High School also know the commitment that is required of young people who “sign on” to the Pike County 4-H Club’s steer and heifer program.

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They’ll all say that the early hours are the hardest part of raising a show calf. Mainly, because every day, all 365 of them, has an early hour and their commitment to the program only gives them about 14 days a year to “sleep in.” The other 351 days, they have the responsibility of caring for an animal and preparing it for competition.

“Unless you’ve been involved in showing calves, either as a young person or as a parent or other supporting family member, you just can’t know, understand or appreciate the amount of work and the long hours and the dedication that it takes to raise a show calf,” said Tammy Powell, Pike County Extension coordinator. “This is not something that you do one or two days a week. And, it’s not something that you do a few weeks or a couple of months. It’s something that you do 50 weeks of the year.”

Seven days of each of those 50 weeks, the 4-H’ers are up almost before the sun comes up feeding their calves. When they get home from school, it’s time for the calves to be fed again.

“They have to wash, dry and groom their calves and work with them daily to get them ready to show,” Powell said. “It takes dedication and commitment to raise and show calves. Those who do so learn responsibility on a high level.”

Powell said raising and showing calves is a family activity.

“It takes the whole family working together to raise the calf,” she said. “It’s a single-minded undertaking but as a family. All of the hard work comes together when the young person steps into the ring. That is the culmination of what has been learned together.”

Seven young people from four schools in Pike County participated in the Central Alabama Beef Expo (District) and Alabama Beef Expo (State) Steer and Heifer Shows at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, March 10-14, and brought home more ribbons, banners and trophies than ever before.

But even without the ribbons and recognitions, all seven said all the “blood, sweat and tears” of the past year were worth it.

“I’ve been showing calves for nine years and it’s been hard, especially getting up every morning and always having the responsibility,” said Cody Johnson, who is a senior at CHHS. “But I love it. I’ve made so many friends and we’ve had so much fun. I’m really going to miss showing calves because it’s been such a big part of my life. But raising and breeding calves is something that I plan to keep doing.”

Morgan Dubose is also a senior and she, too, will be stepping out of the ring. She laughingly said that the only thing she won’t miss is getting up early.

“Raising calves has taught me responsibility and that will help me in whatever I do,” she said. “And, I’ve made friends that I hope to keep for a long time.

“Working with my family has been fun and it has brought us closer together.”

Cody injected his thoughts on family and “farming.”

“I think working together on projects is a good thing,” he said.

“You appreciate each other more.”

Kate Johnson, laughingly, said the hardest part of showing calves is “looking good at the show.”

“You have to wash the calves and the humidity is bad on your hair,” she said, jokingly, and the other girls nodded in agreement.

“And sometimes you get stepped on by your calf and kicked and head butted,” Morgan Dubose said.

“But you keep working because you want to do your best.”

For Josh Graham, controlling his calf is the hardest part of the process and the competition.

“The temperament of the calf makes a big difference,” he said.

“Some calves are harder to work with than others. It’s all hard work but it’s all fun, too.”

Colton Johnson said the showmanship division of the show is fun but it makes him the most nervous, because “you’re getting judged not the steer.”

Morgan Graham said winning a ribbon or a trophy is a nice reward for all the time and hard work that goes into showing a calf.

“The best thing, though, is working with your family and making new friends from different places,” she said. “It’s worth all that you have to do.”

Clay Powell agreed but said it would be much better if the calves minded a little better and didn’t have to eat so early in the morning.

All the hard work and time consuming tasks of raising show calves culminates in the show ring and the benefits will last a lifetime.

It’s hard to get seven teens to agree on anything but all of the young cattlemen and women agreed that, no matter where they are in 10 years or 20, they will be better workers and better citizens because they got up with the chickens to feed the cows.

District Showmanship, divided by age of young person

Morgan DuBose, fifth

Josh Graham, first

Morgan Graham, second

Kate Johnson, fourth

Cody Johnson, first

District Heifer Show

Chi-Influenced Heifers

Morgan DuBose, second (Paisllie)

Morgan Graham, first (Zeva)

Reserve Champion, Morgan DuBose (Paisllie)

Commercial Heifers

Morgan Graham, first (Jenny)

Colton Johnson, second (Kitty)

Cody Johnson, second (Layla)

Kate Johnson, first (Daisy)

Kate Johnson’s Daisy was Champion of the Show, Commercial division

Simmental Heifers

Morgan DuBose, first

Champion of Division

AOB Heifers

Cody Johnson, second

Josh Graham, third

All of the Champion breed division heifers came back to the ring for the selection of the top five. Kate Johnson’s heifer was the Reserve Champion in the Central Alabama Expo district and Morgan DuBose showed the third overall heifer.

District Steer Show

Colton Johnson, third

Clay Powell, ninth

Josh Graham, second

Morgan Graham, fourth

Kate Johnson, third

Cody Johnson, seventh

Josh Graham was third overall steer in District

State Showmanship (divided by age of young person)

Josh Graham, fourth

Colton Johnson, ninth

Morgan Graham, second

Clay Powell, seventh

Kate Johnson, first (back for Supreme Showmanship)

Morgan DuBose, fourth

Cody Johnson, second

Steer Show (divided by weight of calves)

Josh Graham, first (back for the championship)

Morgan Graham, third

Cody Johnson, sixth

Colton Johnson, sixth

Clay Powell, eighth

Kate Johnson, second

Kate’s calf, Diablo, was also the Reserve Champion Heavyweight steer and Reserve Grand Champion Alabama Bred Steer.

State Heifer Show (age divided by age of heifer)

Colton Johnson, Commercial Heifer, fifth

Cody Johnson, Commercial Heifer, second

Morgan Graham, Commercial Heifer, fourth

Kate Johnson, Commercial Heifer, first

Cody Johnson, Reserve Champion Commercial Heifer

Morgan DuBose, Chi-Influenced Heifer, first

Morgan Graham, Chi-Influenced Heifer, second

Morgan DuBose, Reserve Champion Chi-Influenced Heifer

Morgan Graham, Limousine Steers, second

Morgan Graham, Reserve Champion Limousine Steer

Morgan DuBose, Simmental Heifers, first

Morgan DuBose, Champion Simmental Heifer

Cody Johnson, Maintainer Heifer, first

Josh Graham, Maintainer Heifer, third

Cody Johnson, Champion Maintainer Heifer

Supreme Heifer

At the end of the show, all 12 Championship Breed-winning heifers were brought back to the ring for the selection of the Top Five Heifers in the show.

Pike County had three competing for Supreme Heifer. Cody Johnson and two heifers and Morgan DuBose had one.

Cody Johnson, Reserve Champion Supreme Heifer and fourth Best Heifer.

County Heifer Groups (five heifers in the group), first

Each county could select five of their best heifers to be judged as a group.

Breeder Group (all Pike County calves in this group this year) Maples Farms

The breeders could pull three calves to be judged. Maples Farms of Lee County chose calves from Pike County and took first place honors.