By Cheryl Hoefler
Blue Mountain Eagle
What would the Grant County Fair be without the sights, sounds and – yes, the smells – of animals?
For some families the fair revolves around animals, with the Heritage Barn their home for the duration of the fair.
However, long before that animal ever gets to the show ring, there is much work and preparation involved.
The Eagle asked siblings Cinch, 13, and Raney, 10, Anderson of Izee to talk about some of those preparations and share their experiences with showing animals at the county fair.
Q. How long have you been showing animals?
Cinch: I’ve been showing for seven years.
Raney: I started showing when I was 7, when I had my first heifer.
Q. What animals are you showing this year?
Cinch: Beef – a market steer, a heifer, and a cow and calf.
Raney: A market steer and a breeding heifer. My heifer is bred from one of the cows I owned and showed a couple of years ago.
Q. Where do you get your animals and how did you get interested in doing this?
Both Cinch and Raney said they buy their animals from their parents, and said their mom grew up showing cattle and her parents did it, too.
Cinch: My mom’s taught me everything I need to know.
Raney: I had quite a bit of help from my mom.
Q. How long does it take you to prepare for the county fair?
A: Cinch: In October we start them on feed and halter-break them. Then we take them to a few jackpots and show and place them. To get them ready for fair, we start washing them about two weeks before fair, every day – sometimes twice a day. A couple of days before the fair, we’ll clip them.
Q. What are some of the other things you have to do?
Cinch: I have to keep up my record book for 4-H, and we also go to other shows with our other cattle, registered Hereford.
Raney: My record book. This is my first year in 4-H.
Q. What’s your favorite part about showing animals?
Cinch: I really like going to the shows and showing them in the ring. Everything is fun for me. I got reserved grand champion with a registered Hereford last year.
Raney: I like everything about it. I like getting them ready and showing.
Q. What do you do with the money you earn?
Cinch: I put about $1,000 in the bank and give some to the church. I pay my mom and dad back for feed, and then I save some too. I usually have about $200 left over for spending money.
Raney: From my steer, I’ll put $1,000-$2000 in my college account, and save some for my steer the next year. Whatever is left I pay mom and dad for my feed.
Q. What’s it like when fair is over? Are you sad to leave your animal?
A Cinch: Nope, not sad at all. It’s a business thing. My first steer was probably the hardest one, but now it’s no big deal.
Raney: No, I’m not emotional. I just start with another animal for next year.
Raising cattle – registered Herefords – is the family business, High Desert Cattle Company in Izee, for the Andersons.
The breeding animals, Cori explained, are what they continue with in the business, and the market ones are what their children show.
“It’s a family deal, and what we do for a living,” she said.
Cori said going to the county fair and showing animals is a great experience for their children and also helps them save for college, and “they are very good help, too.”
The children are members of both the American and Oregon Junior Hereford associations, she added, and members of the Izee Livestock 4-H club.
Cori herself is involved in the 4-H program, and an active presence during the county fair, where they exhibit their cattle to the public.
She also gets to connect with friends from all over the Northwest during that time.
The Andersons moved to Izee about 11 years ago from Central Oregon.
The youngest member of the Anderson family, Monel, 8, is an active participant in the family business too, playing a supportive role, helping her older brother and sister get their animals ready for fair.
Cori said Monel might show next year, but it will be two more years before she can show a steer.
The livestock auction at the Grant County Fair is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, in the Heritage Barn at the Grant County Fairgrounds in John Day.
See the full fair schedule in the Aug. 5 issue of the Blue Mountain Eagle.