By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer- Stand by to bid on fine livestock lovingly raised by Ridgerunner 4-H Club members at the Desert Empire Fair Junior Livestock Show on October 21 – 2023. Before we go into details, you should know that buying 4-H livestock is a tax write-off and folks often get together to divide up their purchase and spread the cost.
The kids get to the fairgrounds a day before everybody else on Thursdays, where their dairy goats will be judged. Dairy goats do not get sold at auction. After the dairy goats, all of the other animals will be weighed in prior to showing on Friday.
Co-Community Leader for Ridgerunner 4-H Club Candee Coffee explains weighing in, “Each breed of animal has to be a certain weight in order to compete. They get paid by the pound at the auction, they only get paid up to a certain amount.” Each animal must be the minimum weight for their type. “For example, the pigs have to weigh 210 pounds in order to compete.” If they don’t meet the minimum weight, they can compete in the feeder class. The kids show steer, pigs, meat goats, and lambs all day on Friday and Saturday morning. The auction starts at 4 pm on Saturday. Folks who plan to bid are treated to a free lunch and a free dinner with complimentary beer and sangria.
4-H Club kids come from all over to compete. They come from Bishop, Antelope Valley, San Bernardino County. Coffee explains this is the last fair of the season, so we can expect quite a crowd.
You fill out a form when you decide to bid. You will have the choice of picking up the animal yourself, or you can have it hauled out and butchered for a fee. “They take your animal to Barstow Country Butchering and you pay them to slaughter, cut, wrap and freeze. They call you and ask you how you want your chops cut or how thick you want your steaks.”
4-H kids use the money from the auction for many purposes. Some put it in a college fund, some use it to get a new animal the next fair season. “It’s not cheap to raise the animals,” says Coffee. “A lamb will be $300 just to buy the lamb. Then the feed is $30 a bag.” It is a big commitment. They groom, muck out stalls, feed twice a day, and buy supplements. And they only feed them organic foods because they want to do well in auctions.
Coffee is also the owner/operator of C&C Training Stables and THOR Equine Assisted Therapy. She has been involved in 4-H Club for 20 years. She says, “This time.” When her kids were young she was also involved and when they left home, she took five years to “go travel to do that race track thing.” When she returned, the 4-H Club had disbanded, so she and a friend decided to get it going again.
4-H Club is open to kids from five to 19 years old. “From five to eight, they’re called the Clover Buds. Those are the little guys. They can’t show the big animals. They can show dairy goats, they can show guinea pigs called cavies. They can show rabbits. They can do the dog project.” They can also do crafts, cooking and sewing projects. Little kids will be showing their dairy goats at the fair this year. Unfortunately, there was a disease outbreak that wiped out the rabbits, but they are hoping they will be back again when the time is right. From nine to 19, you can raise and show everything.
To join, just show up to their monthly meeting at the Methodist Church on Norma. Unless it is a holiday, it is held on the first Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. The annual fee is $75 for kid participants and $30 for adult volunteers. If a member doesn’t have a place to house their animal, there are pens at C&C Training Stables just for them.
12-year-old Andrew Lockie from Murray Middle School says, “It’s a nice community. It teaches you how to work with animals and how to be good with your animals. You can learn life skills and responsibility.” 10-year-old Quinn Campbell of Inyokern Elementary School agrees, adding, “It teaches you to take care of your animals and get close with your animals and how to love them.”