Ty Jensen, of Princeton, was one of the kids having the first-time experience of showing an animal judging ring at last week’s Mille Lacs County Fair. From all appearances he enjoyed it.
In this case, he showed a goat in the judging ring and also showed a judge his black Wyandotte chicken in its cage at the fair.
Ty is 6 and part of the 4-H Cloverbuds program. Cloverbuds is an informal education program designed for children in kindergarten through third grade and introduces its young members to 4-H.
Ty’s parents, Matt and Ashley Jensen, and =grandparents, Ralph and Jeanne Jensen, were in the stands focused on Ty when he was leading his goat in the county fair judging ring. Because Ty is a Cloverbud, he only showed the goat in the showmanship part. If he were in the more advanced part of 4-H, he could have also showed the goat when judges critique more of the animal, and a 4-H’er can then vie for a chance to advance to the state fair.
As a Cloverbud, Ty received participation medals for showing his goat and chicken at the fair. Actually the goat and chicken don’t reside at Ty’s home. He was able to do the project through the 4-H animal lease program. He had a handy supplier, his grandparents, who are experienced goat and chicken raisers.
In this case, the goat was a Nigerian dwarf breed, named Little Miss. Little Miss did well in following Ty’s lead in the ring. The seven Cloverbuds that Ty was part of in showing goats had older 4-H’ers assisting in the ring. Ty’s helper was Chance Brown, of rural Princeton.
It turned out there was a snafu during the goat judging: Fair officials prefer to have certified judges come from outside the area, and the goat judge that the exhibitors were expecting to be there didn’t show. As a consequence, the judging got started late, using a local certified judge who happened to be there originally to be a spectator.
Judge Jacki Voight declared at the end of judging that the Cloverbuds “did a very good job” in showing and getting their goats ready for the fair: That includes making sure the goats can be led and are thoroughly clean from the hooves on up.
“It was fun,” Ty said after the show, because he “got to walk the goat around, and it wasn’t even hard.”
To get Little Miss ready for the exhibition, Ty, with assistance, washed the goat. Matt Jensen gave it a haircut and trimmed its hooves.
Ty began working with the goats at his grandparents’ place two months ago, and had a personal reason for choosing a goat to show.
“Because goats are cool, and they like to say Maaaatt,” he said. “That’s my dad’s name.”
4-H’ers who lease animals for a 4-H project have an agreement with the animal owner to help care for the animal, so Ty usually visits Ralph and Jeanne Jensen’s place on Sundays to help out and care for the goat, Ashley Jensen said.
Matt Jensen, who is a former 4-H’er, said that Ty’s experience with exhibiting animals at the fair was “pretty good for the kid.”
“I think it’s great,” Ashley Jensen agreed. She added that she had never been introduced to these 4-H activities and that she liked this new experience.
Asked what may have been surprising in Ty’s goat project, Ashley Jensen said she hadn’t expected Ty to be as good as he was in controlling the goat. She admitted that she was a little worried about it a couple of weekends before.
Jeanne and Ralph Jensen agreed that the Cloverbud program teaches its members responsibility. Jeanne Jensen also looked at working around an animal as being good for a child’s emotional health.
“It’s good for kids,” she said. “When a kid gets upset, animals are calming, whether it’s a dog, cat or goat.”