Manifolds, Manolos and Manure
Three years ago, my blue-eyed girl who quietly entered the world one hot Father’s Day joined 4H. Each year, we pour over the 4H project book to select her projects for the year.
Each year I suggest photography. We have a great camera. Dog obedience. Our corgi spent years in lessons until I gave up on him ever having the speed or grace for agility. Plus “Memphis” is quite stubby legged. 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.
For the past three years she’s selected sewing, cooking, and rabbits. I don’t know how to run a sewing machine or read a pattern. I can repair a tear or replace a button but that’s where my skills end. Earlier this year I learned how to use a“tear mender” to fix rips in the big red beast’s blankets.
I can, however, cook. I’m not great and I certainly don’t enjoy it, but I do know how to follow a recipe. 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. But our blue-eyed Holland Lop senior buck named “Hedwig” is a 4H failure. He’s too small and his teeth are crooked. Instead of competing at fair, he moonlights as comic relief and has been “joining” me on Zoom conference calls. He’s currently my favorite remote co-worker.
To my delight, last year my blue-eyed girl signed up for cake decorating. Together we practiced stars. Shell borders. Basket weaving. Drop flowers. Zig zags. And pipe beads. Too put it mildly, we made a colossal homemade buttercream frosting mess and one incredibly small inedible cake.
Last year my blue-eyed girl also signed up to show a March dairy heifer named “Lickey”. our best efforts, “Lickey” never went to fair. Every time my blue-eyed girl went to lead her around “Lickey” would escape. Through fences. Over fences. Through windows. Needless to say, “Lickey” earned her registered name… “Lickety Split”.
This year, my blue-eyed girl selected a gorgeous granddaughter of KHW Regiment Apple-Red-ET. “Apple” is among a very elite group of cows to command a $1 million price tag when she sold in 2008 and was named the Holstein World’s all-American junior 2-year-old in 2006 and the Red and White Dairy Cattle Association’s all-American as an aged cow in 2011. Although “Apple” passed away earlier this year, her lineage continues to thrive.
Red Carpet Jordy Applecrisp-Red-ET or “Apple crisp” was chosen for her rambunctious and fearless personality rather than her pedigree. My blue-eyed girl named her “Applecrisp” after her grandma and for her dad and great grandpa who love apple crisp. I wanted her to start showing with a decent looking calf so as she got older and could afford better pedigreed animals she would appreciate them more but I lost that battle to my youngest brother-in-law and my blue-eyed girl who claimed the prettiest red and white calf born in March on the farm. Of course, she had to be one of “Apple’s” granddaughters.
Like everyone else, we’re not sure that “Applecrisp” will make her showing debut this summer but that isn’t stopping my blue-eyed girl from putting in the hours and the work to build their relationship. 4H is a lot like that. Time. Work. And an opportunity to learn and grow.