Archive for August, 2011

Faring the Fair

Today is opening day of The Ventura County Fair, located at beautiful Seaside Park in Ventura CA.  The 2011 theme is “The Bounty of the County”.  This year we were invited back to Uncle Leo’s Barn, an area of the fair set up for children of all ages to come and get an up-close look at a variety of farmyard animals from this county. The helpful staff is always on hand to answer questions and tell the stories of the animals’ lives on their respective farms. Since I was a city kid growing up, many of my first and fondest encounters with farm animals happened at our local fair, so this is something that I am always happy to participate in. I love to see the children interacting with the animals and wonder which ones of them will possibly someday become our future farmers of America.
Our adventure began just after supper last night when Christy and I accomplished the arduous task of collecting the selected animals (Kitty the pygmy goat and her 6 week old twins)  and systematically loading them into the back of the Dodge Dakota for the short ride to the fairgrounds. Kitty was not very keen on the idea (to say the least) and she would not budge an inch, and needed to be hoisted up and carried-she objected to this to such a state that we had to get a rolling cart to stand her in to get her the rest of the way down the driveway (the only thing that got hurt was her pride). Once in the truck with her kids, having located some feed, she calmed back down. The next stop was over to our neighbor Katie’s farm to help her load up her three Emden goslings into crates, and then everyone into the truck!

Kitty was not really very happy about having to share her ride with the poultry, but there was not much she could do about it anyway.  Total- three pygmy goats, three giant white geese, and three silly gals- needless to say there was MUCH squawking going on in the truck the entire ride to the fair by both humans and animals alike.
Arriving at the Garden Street entrance of the fairgrounds, we were ushered in and allowed to park right out in front of the barn. Some of the staff was there to greet us and help us unload. The geese were carried in their crates and the baby goats were scooped up in our arms and carried in without any problem. Then there was Kitty, who once again would not budge an inch towards the barn. Even just 30 feet seems like a very long way when you are on the other end of the lead of a stubborn animal that is determined NOT to walk for ANY reason we could give her. We tried to coax with a feed bucket, we tried to let her follow her two babies – nothing. She would not budge. In the end, Christy hoisted her up unceremoniously and carried her stubborn butt all the way into the barn and plopped her down in the pen. No small feat, as she must weigh 65+ lbs, has a full udder of milk, and had all four of her legs as stiff as iron and unbending every inch of the way. Not to mention the evil eye she was giving everyone or the unhappy grunts she was voicing at all of us the entire time. But as is the ways of most creatures, once she found the feeder she was content with the new digs. The display pen for the goats is set up with a tall wooden ramp with a platform at the top, and also has a big rubber tire for the kids to play on. The doe kids were not too sure about this setup at first, as they only have had logs to jump around on in their pen at home. Diana was the first of the two kids to be brave enough to try out the ramp but I was sure by the end of the night she and Tess would both be playing “queen of the ramp”. After fair notice to the barn staff that Kitty is clever enough to not only open up the latches on her pen for untimely escapes, but if left unchecked she may also let the others out as well, we went over feeding and care instructions.  We left the animals to settle in a bit and went out and turned up the main thoroughfare to stroll along and cool off from our struggle with Miss Kitty.

Although the fair was not yet open there were tons of people all around. Trucks were parked over every foot of the walkways and the place was bustling with activity. Vendors were setting up booths and unloading boxes, rides were being tested and everyone else seemed to have a bucket or a broom in their hands. Officials in electric golf carts were swerving by on all sides and last-minute touches were being put on displays everywhere. Halfway down the fairway we ran into the small livestock superintendent, Elzie Daniels, who we then had a nice chat with about what has been going on in everyone’s backyards and barns for the last year, livestock births and deaths,  and things we wished to purchase. It is always nice to run into old friends and catch up on each other’s lives. He even had some photos to show us of his beautiful Jersey calf born on the 4th of July. Congrats Elzie, she is a beaut!

We continued our walk all the way down to the main gate and then turned around and headed back to the barns to check and see how the critters were doing. We ran into a couple of 4-H kids bringing in their animals in the rabbit and poultry barn and after a few more short chats we did one last check of our animals before heading back to the truck. The geese had found the wading pool and Kitty already had her head in the feeder. The twins were bouncing on the big rubber tire and it looked like they just might be the hit entertainment of the barn this year. I know the children will love them. Things were all in place as they should be, and we are all ready once again to fare the fair!