While most of us are curled up near the wood stove with a cup of hot chocolate, there are young people all over the Rogue Valley out tending to animal projects that will be shown at the Jackson County Fair in July. Animals were either purchased at the Club Calf Sale in October of last year, or at other sites at a slightly later stage of development.
4-H clubs and FFA members have been working with animals to get them ready for showmanship and for the auction ring. The beef projects take longer, and much more work than either sheep or hogs, so those youngsters have been out in the cold while we watch market reports on T. V.
Three of those youngsters are Emmit and Wil Bateman of Eagle Point and Sierra Kirkpatrick of Butte Falls. They are members of the Butte Basin Beef Club, led by Bob and Tess Fisher of Eagle Point.
Emmit and Wil have been showing beef for many years now, starting with jackpot shows from Corvallis to Fresno. During those years, they showed Beef Master Cattle. They began at the ripe old age of “six or seven” says Emmit, long before they were eligible to show animals through their 4-H Club. “We showed mostly heifers and cows” adds Wil. So when the boys were old enough they joined the Butte Basin club because they liked the small size and they liked especially Bob and Tess.
Emmit, now 15, is a sophomore at Butte Falls High School, Wil is in the 8th grade. They transferred from the Eagle Point system a couple of years ago. They have no FFA program at Butte Falls, though they say there has been interest there but no money for the program.
Sierra Kirkpatrick, Emitt’s girlfriend, is also a member of the Butte Basin Beef and is taking her first steer, Winston, to the 2012 Jackson County Fair. Sierra is also enrolled in Butte Falls schools.
Younger brother Wil has decided to take a lamb to the Spring Fair, his second. He doesn’t have far to go for advice on lambs, his mother Sharon is the leader of Butte Creek Sheep, a lamb club with about 10 members.
According to the boys, two older sisters have been through the program and all have done well. Of special importance to them is showmanship, so much so, they place that above market standings. Each year, Bob and Tess Fisher donate a belt buckle to the top showman, three out of four of those have been won by the Batemans.
What do they owe their success to? Mostly hard work, a good diet, experience of long years showing cattle and a good eye for picking good stock. They find sound cattle in California and have not yet purchased stock through the Club Calf Sale. Some of their expertise has, no doubt, rubbed off from their mother Sharon, who as a youngster was a member of Butte Basin Beef Club under Bob and Tess.
Last year, the boys did well, selling 15th and 36th respectively. The year prior to that, Emmit sold in the #6 spot. So far, they have sold their animals for a profit, despite the fact that they are more interested in showmanship. That is where they say they excel, and they are shooting for another of Bob Fisher’s belt buckles at the 2012 Fair.
By Ralph McKechnie
For the Independent