CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson A hog looks through the gate of a washing station at the Curry County Fair Grounds Tuesday as his owner, 15-year-old Kayley Pelfrey scrubs his hind feet. Pelfrey said preparing livestock for show is a lot of hard work.
By Sharna_Johnson: CNJ staff writer
On the surface, it seems like an average beauty parlor. Clippers buzz. Combs work through tangles and fingers massage through fruit scented, fluffy soap suds.
But in this case the primping is for the livestock at the Curry County Fair.
Inside the animal barns, 15-year-old Kayley Pelfrey squirted orange soap on her hands and smoothed it across her hog’s back and legs, scrubbing him with a bristled mitt Tuesday as the swirling muddy water danced down the cement and metal drains to the sounds of moos, snorts and bleats.
In her second year showing livestock at the fair, Pelfrey said she raised and prepared her 5-month-old hog for show from the time he was a few weeks old.
“It’s fun,” the Texico teen said. “(But) it’s a lot of hard work.”
In the sheep section of the barn, 13-year-old Mitchell Pinnell scrutinized the wavy lines created by Garrett Foote’s clippers along a sheep’s back.
“After you do quite a few sheep it gets old,” Foote said.
The 15-year-old said he has been showing livestock for about five years and sees a future for himself in agriculture.
Outside the livestock barn, Garrett Ford, 11, tugged on “Lily’s” lead rope, trying to guide the 5-month-old heifer in a straight line through a small, grassy paddock.
“My cow doesn’t like the show halter,” he said. “It makes too much noise.”
Garrett and cousins Ethan Baldock, 9, and Taryn Baldock, 12, were practicing handling techniques for their moment in the show ring.
“She’s small but I think she’s going to do good,” Taryn said of heifer “Sweet Tart,” who stood placidly as the Texico girl stroked her forehead. “I placed last before but I think she’s going to get me higher than that.”
Taryn said last year she jokingly suggested her city-living cousins Garrett and Ethan raise animals at her home and show them. They took her up on it.
“And it came with some hard work,” Ethan said.
Taryn’s step-mother, who manages a Friona dairy, said learning to work with livestock through the 4-H program is a valuable lesson for youth.
“I grew up on a farm, but my husband and his whole family grew up in the city,” she said.
Looking at her nephews leading their heifers away, she said, “doing this teaches respect and gives them confidence. And it keeps them moving and keeps them outside.
“It’s all about stuff that’s been forgotten in the big scheme of things.”