4-H 4EVER

This lit­tle lamb went to col­lege...

The Covington News - - Local News -

At first glance, she’s an or­di­nary sec­ond grader.

Her shoes are un­tied, tiny lamb ear­rings dan­gle from each ear, and she’s do­ing a pre­car­i­ous bal­anc­ing act on her dad’s rolling chair while do­ing math home­work.

Ava Teasley shows me her work, us­ing ad­di­tion to check dou­ble digit sub­trac­tion, and de­clares that sci­ence is a bet­ter sub­ject.

But­ter­flies, la­dy­bugs, flies, and bees top her list of fa­vorite sci­ence top­ics, and she quickly cor­rects me when I re­fer to spi­ders as in­sects (they are arach­nids).

Some would say all 7-yearolds are per­sis­tent when they want some­thing, but I’ve no­ticed that many move on to their next “must have” within days, or even hours.

Last year, how­ever, Ava asked her par­ents for a lamb.

Her dad, FFA-FCCLA Cen­ter Di­rec­tor Todd Teasley, said he en­cour­aged her to get a hog in­stead, be­cause he thought it would be eas­ier to show.

Ava per­sis­tently asked for the lamb — for three straight months.

Her par­ents agreed, but only if she’d show the lambs in 4-H live­stock shows in the fall. And so it be­gan. In­stead of ris­ing just in time to throw on clothes and eat break­fast on the way to Ms. Wat­ter­son’s class at Heard Mixon Ele­men­tary, the fam­ily rose early to feed lambs Mag­gie and Moses.

Af­ter­noons were spent ex­er­cis­ing, train­ing, or wash­ing the lambs, and clean­ing the barn.

Ava tells me she did not do all the work— it was a fam­ily af­fair.

“It’s all about hav­ing fun, but it’s also some­thing our whole fam­ily can do to­gether,” said Todd Teasley.

Ava re­ceived help and lessons from her par­ents, FFA camp em­ploy­ees, and UGA county agent TedWynne.

By the end of the sea­son, she was do­ing most of the work her­self, even clip­ping the lambs.

In ad­di­tion to learn­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity, there were ad­di­tional ben­e­fits.

“I like spending time with my fam­ily,” said Ava. “The best part is winning, though… and rid­ing rides at the fair.”

She stretches her arms out to de­scribe the length of her largest rib­bon. She also won cash prizes.

Lambs are judged in weight classes based on mar­ketabil­ity, and youth are judged in show­man­ship by how well they can con­trol the lamb, set it up (brac­ing), and do it all while looking at the judge and smil­ing.

At one show, Ava’s dad of­fered her $50 if she won first in show­man­ship.

Ava says her dad gave her the money even though she came in sec­ond, but he quickly re­minds her he did it for a rea­son.

Be­fore she goes into the ring, Ava’s fam­ily talks about her goal: “to glo­rify God,” Ava says.

She does this by do­ing her best work and smil­ing for the judges, but at this show the child ahead of her had a stub­born lamb.

While Ava could have cho­sen to keep her at­ten­tion solely on her own lamb to be sure she won, she in­stead helped the other child while her own lamb acted up a lit­tle.

The fam­ily agreed she had ac­com­plished her goal by help­ing the other child be­fore think­ing of her own pos­si­ble win­nings.

At the Ju­nior Na­tional Show in Perry, Ava earned 2nd in show­man­ship and 5th and 8th in weight classes.

Ava’s win­nings and in­come from sell­ing the lambs will go in part to pur­chase her lambs for next year, when she hopes to show three and have one as a backup.

“I don’t like to talk about that part,” she says when I ask about the lamb sale. “We say Moses went off to col­lege, and Mag­gie went to get mar­ried.”

Her dad ex­plains that Moses was bought by UGA for use in live­stock judg­ing classes, and Mag­gie was pur­chased back by her breeder. Ava hopes to show one of Mag­gie’s lambs next sea­son.

Ava says while all chil­dren may not be will­ing to do the work, she thinks most would en­joy rais­ing and show­ing a lamb.

Youth in the first grade next year can start looking for a lamb to pur­chase early in 2009.

Ava shared a tip for keep­ing lambs calm: “I hum to them in the ring.”

She says it took sev­eral tries to fig­ure out each lamb’s fa­vorite, but Moses pre­ferred “Up on the House­top” while Mag­gie most liked “I Love You” from Bar­ney.

Terri Kim­ble is the 4-H Pro­gram Spe­cial­ist for New­ton County 4-H. She can be reached at 770-784-2010 or tkim­ble@ uga.edu

Sub­mit­ted photo

Ava had a lit­tle lamb: Ava Teasley, 7, a sec­ond grade 4-H Live­stock Team mem­ber at Heard Mixon Ele­men­tary, with her sis­ter El­iz­a­beth, who won a tro­phy in the pre-K “fun” show , and lamb Moses at the Ju­nior Na­tional show at the Ge­or­gia Na­tional Fair in Perry, Ga. 4-H lamb show­ing was a fam­ily af­fair for the Teasleys.

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