Saturday, July 20, 2013
If Aidan and Ellie Smith were sent back in time to live during the days of the pioneers, they’d be able to pull their own weight around a homestead, no problem.
That’s because Aidan, 11, and Ellie, 14, who are brother and sister, have garnered a litany of skills over their time in 4-H: a youth development program most often associated with teaching young people about agriculture including how to raise and show livestock.
4-H is a key part of the programming for the annual Hood River County Fair, which kicks off Wednesday, July 24, and Aidan and Ellie are gearing up to compete in the fair once again this year.
Talking with Aidan, Ellie and their mother, Barb, at their home on Post Canyon Drive in Hood River, it becomes pretty clear the youngsters are more than involved with just animal husbandry and will be pretty busy come next week — not that they haven’t been already.
“At the fair, we do sheep, poultry, and rabbits and some inside exhibits,” Ellie explains. “We do sewing, cooking, fiber arts, photography, art.”
Both Aidan and Ellie have been participating in 4-H programs for six years, including a junior 4-H program called Cloverbuds — a nod to the 4-H four-leafed clover logo. Their love of 4-H has been passed down to them from their mother, who also participated in 4-H while growing up in Hood River, as did her mother, Jean Stone.
Aidan and Ellie already have three shows under their belts this year — the Boatman Lamb Camp in Prineville, the Mid-Columbia Junior Livestock show in Tygh Valley, and the Blue Mountain Jackpot in Heppner — but that doesn’t mean they’re slacking off for the county fair. Ellie says she and her brother head out to the pens in the backyard “every night when it’s cooler, to work with the animals.”
Although it isn’t a category of showmanship at the fair, Aidan is also a highly skilled hypnotizer of chickens, which he says are his favorite animals to show.
“You lay them on their backs and let them calm down,” Aidan narrates while performing the procedure on Cuddles, a 3-year-old Copper Maran chicken, “and then you draw a line across the ground in front of them with your finger.”
After tracing the line in the grass, Aidan slowly withdraws his hands while a mesmerized Cuddles lies motionless on her back, staring out into space for several seconds before awkwardly flopping to her feet as if nothing had happened. Success.
While chickens are Aidan’s favorite animal, Ellie prefers the company of sheep, which she feels most comfortable showing at fairs. One sheep in particular, a Suffolk named Louie, is Ellie’s favorite, whom she says is “like a dog” and has no problem getting along with the menagerie of animals present at the Smith estate.
“He likes to play with the cats,” she says. “It’s pretty funny.”
Though Aidan and Ellie may grow close to the animals, many will go to market, meaning Louie may wind up on a restaurant table some day with a side of mint jelly. But they won’t wind up on the Smiths’ dinner table.
“You can’t eat them once you name them,” Barb notes. “It doesn’t work.”
Still, Ellie believes it’s good to not be disassociated from how her food gets to her plate.
“It’s better to eat something that you know where it came from,” she says.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge