David's project of choice involves Poultry. Unlike the Swine Project, there is no Market Class for poultry at fair to help offset the cost of the project. However, we truly enjoy the eggs all year long!!!
David takes care of the chickens all year long with some help from brother Jacob during the winter months. David goes out bright and early every morning to check their feed and water. During the summer months, they are on an automatic watering system (gravity flow) - but he still needs to check the water level in the bucket to make sure it is full. He collects the eggs - usually leaving one or two in various nests to encourage laying.
During the winter months, the chickens are switched to waterers which need to be re-filled every day. He also has to make sure their light is on in the house. The light provides some warmth, and encourages laying. Chickens need approximately 14 to 16 hours of light a day for egg production. During the overcast winter months, it is important that their light stays on in their coop, not only for warmth but for egg production as well.
The other tasks include keeping their yard picked up, changing the straw in their nests, and cleaning out the coop. Unlike hogs, chickens go everywhere!!! One of these days, we hope to turn the manure into fertilizer, but for now, it goes in the compost pile behind the barn.
While the chickens do not have to washed at fair, they do need a bath prior to fair. If you have never washed a chicken...well a live chicken...it's quite interesting. You need 3 buckets of water. One with soap, one with plain water, and one with vinegar (not for marinating...for helping cut the soap!). You have to be careful not to dunk their heads because this could drown them. Also, you'll need a toothbrush for a chicken pedicure, and to clean their beaks!
At fair, he has to make sure they have food and water every day, and their cages are free of manure.
As I said in an earlier post, the chicken project is more about knowledge of all poultry, as well as knowing the body parts of your animal.
Their are no tears with a Poultry Project, either. You know that your animals are not off to the butcher at the close of the fair - so it is easier on the emotions!
Since David was Grand Champion in Fitting & Showing for the Junior Class this year, he was able to participate in the Round Robin competition, which involves showing an animal from each of the Small Divisions. David had to show and answer numerous questions about...
a chicken (not his own),
and a goat!
The goat was his favorite. This goat is a young Nubian. It is raised for it's milk. Marlee and David have both expressed an interest in raising Nubians, but Dad is not yet sold on the idea *smile*!
After the completion of the Round Robin, the points from each category are totalled. The participants, in order to qualify for the trophy, must have earned a certain number of points. In classes where there are more than one participant, the competitor with the highest point total takes the trophy. In case of a tie, the competitors have to answer additional questions.
David was thrilled to receive the Round Robin for Overall Showmen his first year showing as a 4-H Member. (He has shown in previous years, but not in the 4-H Class. 4-H Members cannot show animals until they finish 3rd grade.)
Portrait of shocked humbleness
We look forward to many more years encouraging the kids and learning with them about God's creatures - great and small!