Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure
A month ago, when I started thinking about this column, my plan was to write about what our cows eat. Like us, they eat balanced meals complete with a supplement that ensures that they meet their nutritional needs. Like us, they skip fast food, cut back on sodium, and pass on dessert. I always pass on dessert. And I’ve never added salt to grilled corn.
However, just before I grabbed my parchment and quill, my blue-eyed daughter who quietly entered the world one Father’s Day, did something I will never forget.
Earlier this year, my blue-eyed girl and I poured over the 4H fair book and selected her projects for the year. I suggested photography. We have a great camera. Dog obedience. Our corgi spent years in lessons until I gave up on her ever having the speed or grace for agility. Plus “Bella” is quite chubby. Cake decorating. I took several weeks of cake decorating lessons though I rarely make the kids’ birthday cakes. Rabbits. Rabbits have wonderful, soft, and cuddly ears. Dairy. We own a dairy farm and can easily find a kind and good-looking spring calf.
My blue-eyed girl chose rabbits, sewing, and cooking.
I don’t sew. I don’t own a sewing machine and just recently bought a needle and thread after my mom ridiculed me for not being able to sew my own button on. Needless to say, I had to prove her wrong.
I’m not a fan of cooking. I can cook but I don’t enjoy it. My grandma used to enter every foods class at the fair and would routinely clean house. Unfortunately, she passed away before I married my farmer and didn’t leave me her cookbook or her skills.
Rabbits on the other hand are my bailiwick. Together she and I purchased her first rabbit, a blue-eyed Holland Lop junior buck named “Hedwig.”
Shortly after signing up for projects, my blue-eyed girl signed up for her first 4H fair. She signed up for 4H and open class rabbits. Cooking 101. Sewing 101. Together we took the livestock ethics test and discussed showmanship and animal care. We made tentative plans for rabbit care at the fair and started freezing water bottles to cool “Hedwig.” Together we signed up for the 4H food stand and for too many hours at the wee farm.
Fortunately for my blue-eyed girl her aunt and grandma came to the rescue with sewing. Her aunt helped her select a project and pattern. Her grandma took her material shopping. Together they picked out a tie-dye with black paw prints. Her aunt spent hours in the month leading up to the general projects show teaching her how to use a sewing machine. Sew a straight line. Create even hems. Cut out her pattern. My blue-eyed girl took several breaks and ate everything in sight but finished her pajama pants with an evening to spare.
The morning of the general projects show, my blue-eyed girl and I melted butter and marshmallows and gently mixed cereal into the mix. Unfortunately for her, I didn’t cut even squares. And she created a menu that included chips and dip.
With finesse and a confidence that still amazes me, she met with her cooking and sewing judges and discussed her recipe. Pattern. Skills that she learned. And areas she needs to improve. Leaving the general projects show she had two blue ribbons and an excitement for 4H.
With tears in her eyes and her voice full of wonder, my blue-eyed girl also received a grand champion ribbon in sewing with an invitation to show at state fair and a reserve champion ribbon in cooking.
I can’t wait to see what the next nine years of 4H brings.