From rabbits to beef cows: Lincoln County 4-H Achievement Days

By Garrett Ammesmaki,

Editor



(Above) Austin Strasser of the Teapot Troopers 4-H Club shows his calf in the beef show. Photo: Courtesy


Youth from all over Lincoln County came out to show their projects from July 23 to Aug. 4 at Lincoln County 4-H Achievement Days. It is the first Achievement Days to take place at the newly built fairgrounds off Highway 17 near Lennox.


“It went pretty good, for the most part” said Wendy Sweeter, Lincoln County 4-H program advisor. Sweeter is also a contributor for the Lennox Independent.


Despite some rescheduling caused by record-breaking heat, as well as a current lack of electricity to the new show ring, this years’ Achievement Days succeeded with more than 200 Lincoln County kids participating in various shows, competitions and events.


Emily Rose Harrington was there through the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 3, to show her lion head rabbits. The 17-year-old Lennox local has spent five years working with rabbits. She has spent the last four years focused on lion heads.


The breed is relatively new, having only existed for the last 40 years or so, she said. They get their name from their luxurious mane that looks fit for a shampoo commercial.


For shows, Harrington is mainly interested in the genetics of her rabbits. She focuses on enhancing attributes that include hair length and color, ear length, and other specifics such as the color of the rabbits’ nails.


A main aspect that Harrington is focused on at the moment is breeding rabbits with solid colors, and maintaining the manes of her male lion heads as they get older.


Male lion heads have a tendency to lose their mane as they grow, she said, but it’s a key area for competitions — a clean break between the mane of a lion head rabbit and its shoulders is important for judges.


The operation takes a lot of time and effort, said Phyllis Meyers, Harrington’s mother. They have 30 rabbits, and it takes work — not only to breed out genetics that they don’t want, but to keep their long hair well-groomed enough to take home a purple ribbon.


The hard work has been worth it, though, as they were able to take home almost all purple ribbons after the judging round on August 3. All but two of the rabbits they showed will go on to the State 4-H competition.


“You can look at some of our older rabbits and compare them to our new ones, and see just how much we’ve been able to make them better,” Meyers said.


Lion heads are also very social and personable, Meyers said. Typically, lion heads are fun and playful, which is why, as their rabbits pass showing age, they intend to donate them as companion animals.


A lion head is usually passed showing age around one and a half years old, Harrington said.


Alongside the animal showings, Achievement Days featured 900 static exhibits that included everything from baking to photography. All was put on with the help of 4-H volunteers, parents and other family members.


The only issues included the heat and a lack of electricity. Due to the continuing heatwave, they were forced to reschedule the swine showing to a morning for the sake of the animals’ health. And, for power, they used a couple of generators and borrowed a battery operated PA system, Sweeter said.


“Our shows wouldn’t go on with our 4-H volunteers, parents and family,” Sweeter said. “We’re very grateful for them, and we’re grateful to the entire Lincoln County community who come out and support our 4-H’ers.”