The hundreds of hogs, goats, beef, sheep, poultry and rabbits that went up for auction on Saturday at the 79th annual Colusa County Fair marked the culmination of months of hard work for local FFA and 4-H members.
For most of the 495 youth who had a market animal in the 2018 Livestock Auction, the money raised will be saved for their college educations.
Some of the youth had other or mixed plans for all or part of their earnings.
Aubriana Keeler of Stonyford, an incoming junior at Maxwell High School, said the money she raised from her market lamb this year will pay for her drivers training program so she can get her license.
“I have my permit, but it’s going to expire soon,” she said.
William Dafoe, 12, a member of the Arbuckle 4-H, said that in addition to his college fund, he plans to set aside some of his money from the sale of his Blue Butt hog to save up for a dirt bike.
Colusa County’s youth were heavily invested in their animals, knowing their hard work would be rewarded at the auction by local farmers, business owners, family, friends, and groups – many of whom donated the meat to non-profit organizations, associations, and special causes.
Keeler said she got her lamb in January, and made sure to give it special feed and care, as well as trained it well for the show ring.
Total sales at Saturday’s auction grossed $1,023,738.50, with $24,978 added on, down from $1.3 million last year, and still well below the 2015 record of $1.5 million.
Buyers purchased 192 hogs at an average of $9.47 per pound; 202 lambs averaged $10.85 per pound; and 32 goats sold at an average of $19.61 per pound.
There were 30 steers sold at action, averaging $5.02 per pound.
Market animals also included 27 rabbits, averaging $72.05 per pound; seven turkeys sold at an average of $32.64 per pound; and five pens of chickens sold for an average of $200.80 per pound.
First year 4-H member Isaac Tirado, 10, jumped into the ring for the first time with a 236 pound hog, and picked up $10 per pound, just above the show average.
“I’m pretty happy with that,” Tirado said.
For many longtime participants, high school graduation marked their end of the FFA or 4-H careers.
Michael Grimmer, 17, of Arbuckle, whose champion meat turkeys were among the last animals up for grabs at Saturday’s Sale of Champions, said his many years in 4-H have prepared him well for his future, though it was a bit sad for him to see it come to an end.
“I’m really not sure if I will miss it,” he said. “I will just have to wait and see how I feel about it.”
Grimmer, who graduated from Pierce High School on June 1, heads to Yuba College in the fall, where he plans to study x-ray technology and play football for the 49ers.
Grimmer has shown turkeys since they were added to the fair as a project several years ago.
“I’ve had a lot of success with them,” he said.
Grimmer younger brother, Keith, whose 4-H career has also included champion chickens and turkeys, switched to a market hog for the first time this year, getting $9 pound for his 293 pounder – one of the biggest at this year’s exposition.
Abby Myers’s hog tipped the scale at 306 pounds; David Heidrick’s weighed 308 pounds; and Alex Jorge’s hog was a whopping 312 pounds. They were the tree largest hogs in the ring.
Not all animals shown at the 2018 Colusa County Fair were sold for market, including Alexandra Rubendall’s pen of ducks, which went home with her on Sunday.
“My ducks are Khaki Campbells,” said Rubendall, 11. “They were originally bred for meat purposes but they are the best egg-laying ducks in the entire world.”
This was Rubendall’s first year showing ducks, and she got sixth place in the ring after her ducks flew off the table. Still, Rubendall, a member of the Arbuckle 4-H, said she was pleased with their performance. She previously had chickens at the Colusa County Fair, and said she wanted to make the experience this year more challenging.