Livestock Inventory – El Defensor Chieftain
The county fair is in full swing this week – and forgive me for saying it every year – but a county fair is one of those rare places where you aren’t judged on who you are, but rather on the appearance of your pig. Or goat or chicken or lamb or rabbit or thousand pound beef.
As far as I know, the first Socorro County Fair was held 72 years ago. That was even before there were carnivals. The showroom was the National Guard armory, cattle were shown and judged on the adjacent open ground, and a roping contest was held in an arena north of town near the Casa Blanca nightclub.
Queen Lila Turner of Magdalena reigned over the two-day event and presided over the fair’s closing square dance. Ahem, the fence what? I couldn’t say for sure, but I guess the days of do-si-do-ing, German left and right left, walking and rocking your partner up and down have been relegated to the trash can of dancing, with the Twist, Hully Gully and Lindy Hop. I have it from a good source, however, one can always take two steps or waltz without batting an eyelid.
Let’s move on. A popular event at the old Socorro County Fair was a 15-mile mule race, but an even more popular event was “Kiss the Pig,” a fundraiser where people could vote unlimitedly at $1 each for the victim of their choice. The person who had accumulated the most votes had to kiss a cute little piglet on the snout. All the money raised went to literacy.
In a 1950 issue of the Chieftain, Socorro County proclaimed “a new era in the development of agriculture and ranching” which would “establish a new level of pride in the economic progress of this county”.
That’s what it’s all about, all ag, and what impresses me is the work the 4H and FFA kids put into it.
Seeing these young people take out the animals they have raised and cared for over the past year gives me confidence in the person in whom we entrust the future. These are the people who will be joining the adult world in not too many years and we need them to turn the rest of us around. With a bit of luck.
If I may, it’s been a few years since I was a 4-H member, and one thing I remember is learning skeet shooting with shotguns in the school playground. I can’t imagine that happening today, but back in the 50s it didn’t raise an eyebrow.
Although we lived in town, growing up in Kentucky, we never missed a day of the county fair. We all piled into the family’s Nash Rambler station wagon and our mother would fry some chicken and transport it to the fairgrounds with all the fixings in a basket covered with a towel. As good as any fair trade food you had to buy.
Thing is, I missed out on the 4-H experience of raising animals – other than dogs, cats, and the occasional hamster – so now I’m like, “Hmm, maybe I should have chickens , or a goat or a pig.” I mean, who’s to say I couldn’t have some sort of barnyard? For advice on the matter, I turned to the reliable old, Old Farmers’ Almanac, where there is practical – albeit ironic – advice for the do-it-yourself farmer on the pros and cons of bass cattle. -court.
For example, the good thing about having chickens is the fresh eggs, but also if you can wring your neck like my grandmother from Tennessee did so skillfully, you’ll have your own KFC. The downside, I understand, is that you tend to steer all conversations towards raising chickens. And this whole twist thing is kind of nasty.
As for the goats, they can provide you with mohair and feta. And they are also hilarious. On the other hand… hmm, there is no other hand. Except maybe the complaints of your downwind neighbors.
Pigs, I was told, are very smart and sociable creatures, and not as dirty as I’ve been led to believe, but all I can think of is… bacon, sausage, ham . Although if you give your oinker a name, say, Wilbur, forget about the slaughterhouse.
Horses are also smart and social, but they eat a lot, so I think the best horse is the one your neighbor lets you ride.
When it comes to cows, there is only one question: “Where’s the beef?” Well, maybe two if it’s a Holstein: “Where’s the milk?”
But I digress.
By Monday, the fairgrounds will be vacant and we’ll all be on our way. Monday is of course Labor Day when everyone who works has the day off. If you think about it, should be called Laborless Day.
The problem is, on the Tuesday after Labor Day, you’ll be working twice as hard to catch up on the work that accumulates when you’re off work on Labor Day.
And so on.