Life

Baby cow, buckin’ muttons, and disrobing cowboys ~ YEE HAW!

We met Briar today! His birth announcement appeared on Facebook — man, I love technology sometimes — so we knew right where to go.

Briar, a brand new bull born on Monday, was predictably adorable and was already very sturdy on his feet. Mom was a pen away and occasionally mooed to let Briar’s admirers know of her presence and protection. The 4-H girls invited me to pet Briar. So soft! And what a face! The irony was lost on me at the time, but now I feel really bad that the next stop we made was a beef brisket sandwich for lunch. Oops.

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So close yet still so proud Today was one of my favorite events of the Fair: Mutton Bustin’! It’s basically bull riding for little kids where the bull is replaced by a wooly sheep. The kids wear protective gear and typically get dirty but I’ve never seen anyone get terribly hurt. With the unpredictability of both the sheep and the kids, there is lots of opportunity for drama and suspense. Today was no exception.

I was very excited that my pleas for friends to enter their kids worked. I knew three of this afternoon’s busters!! Two were competitive and hearty siblings just about a year apart (ages 5 and 6), and the third was a cutie-patootie 4-year-old girl who loves anything to do with animals.

All three put their game faces and helmets on and bravely entered the arena on jumpy sheep, with nervous moms standing by. The kids did fantastic! They stayed on their sheep as long as they could, got tossed off into the dirt, got up, dusted themselves off, and handled the cheers and accolades from their fans like bustin’ pros.

The top ten busters advanced to the final round held later in the evening during the bull riding show. As the names were being announced, we realized we needed some instruction about how to root. Turns out both of the girls wanted to advance and the boy (the oldest) never wanted to ride a sheep again. He had had a bit of a rough ride, getting bumped around by both the sheep and the metal gate that the sheep seemed very drawn to. Naturally, he was the only one of the three that made the top ten. Cue tears.

A group of supporters gathered in the stands for the evening show, hoping the afternoon of Fair Fun made the thought of riding another sheep a bit less terrifying. We cheered on a total of eight young riders, cameras at the ready for when our guy’s name was called. But the eighth rider was the final one. Two busters, our rider included, exercised their right to say “Nuh-uh! I’m not gonna! You can’t make me!” So close! But still so very, very impressed.

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Utterly fascinating Once again meandering to nowhere in particular, we stumbled upon 4-H Fun. The 4-H goat kids were having an awards ceremony (their part of the Fair ended today; Open Class goats start tomorrow). We got to the ceremony just in time for the awards for a milking contest. That sounded straight-forward enough — the winner would be whomever got the most milk out of their goat. And ultimately that was indeed the criteria (11.8lbs, by the way).

But the adult holding the microphone included a lot of additional details about test results taken from each milk sample. She discussed somatic cell count and butter fat and protein and utter health. She warned that some results could signal utter drama. I laughed, assuming she was being punny. She wasn’t.

Nevertheless, I was learning quite a bit from her impromptu awards ceremony-turned-dissertation, including that a diet of blackberries can make your butter fat content skyrocket. Yikes about yesterday’s mixed berry pie! Sadly, though, I doubt many of the kids were actually hearing any of her wisdomy pearls. While they were being very polite and quiet and appeared attentive, I am pretty sure the hungry 4-H’ers were actually looking right past the woman to the dozens of Little Caesar’s pizzas that were being delivered behind her for the post-ceremony party.

Cowboy strip show We have a favorite seating location for events in the Grandstands. It involves the direction of the sun, shade, and back support. Today it also involved some behind-the-scenes footage of bull riding cowboys. Not that I’m complaining.

While it seemed very strange when the first guy did it, it became clear that it was acceptable cowboy behavior since a number of them were doing it. Doing what, you ask? Using a pen as their dressing room. A pen that was highly visible to anyone over in our section. A pen that only had metal rails as walls. A pen that was within my camera’s zoom length. Yee haw!

Now before you go getting too excited, I need to clarify that when they took off their pants, they were all wearing what looked like bicycle shorts underneath. Nevertheless, we got a nice view of their legs and the preference for white socks. None of them were wearing undershirts, though. Again, I’m not complaining.

If at next year’s Bull Riding competition that particular section of the Grandstands is filled with women with impressive camera lenses, you’ll know why.

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On the schedule for tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug 8):

— The second round of entries for vegetables, fruits, special crops, and flowers need to arrive at the exhibition hall by 9:00am. My husband is entering a few things so we will have an early start tomorrow.

— Tai Chi at 10:00am. Tomorrow is “Prime of Your Life Day” with activities aimed at people 50 years old and over. Although I don’t qualify, I doubt they’d kick me out if I decided I want to learn “Daughter on the Mountaintop” or “Bird Flaps Its Wings.”

— 4-H Kitchen Activities from noon to 8pm. The list includes presentations on Beverages, Bread Baking, Foods of the Pacific NW, and Foods for All Occasions, among others. Sounds ripe for more 4-H adorableness!

— Sheep Market Weigh In at 1:00pm . I have no idea how much a sheep weighs but it might be great fun to guess!

— Family Feud at 1:30 on the Jest in Time stage. It is billed as part of the People Over 50 theme but I have no idea why. Maybe because Richard Dawson was over 50 (or at least looked like it) when he hosted the show? I think I need to find out.