Friday, January 18, 2013

4-H in the Osage

I cannot tell you how much 4-H added to my life growing up on a farm and ranch in the Osage.  If you recall from one of my earlier stories about getting my first bank loan at about the age of 9 (a very scary event) and then all through school and even up to day I am still working with banks and financing and using what I learned when I was 9 years old.  It started with the purchase of two Ewe lambs and no Ram (go read the story) and today it is investing in real estate, equities, bonds and even doing what is called Angel investing.  All of this is from my early learning as a farm boy.  WOW!  I am so thankful.  Back to 4-H.

At least in Shidler and the surrounding school district we did not have FFA although I was a little jealous of their blue jackets.  4-H had its advantages over FFA in that it included a lot more girls, just kidding - kind of.  4-H was king and at our house it was focused on animals for Larry and me but Debbie (my older sister and only sister) focused on raising sheep and showing them at the livestock show to cooking and sewing.  She was excellent at all of the above.  I think she got a lot of satisfaction out of cooking and spoiling me.  Regretfully she still calls me her baby brother but I don' complain as she ALWAYS remembers birthdays and special events.  One year Debbie won the Grand Champion ribbon at the Osage County Junior Livestock Show in Pawhuska which was held in the first week of March every year.  I should mention that she was showing one of her sheep to win the prize.  Typically she would win contests every year in sewing and one year she was the 4-H girl of the year.  One of the things required of every 4-H member was keeping a record of the events and income and expense of anything you did.  What a novel idea for a young person to start early at being responsible for expenses and income and writing down what they worked on and what they accomplished?  Yes, I am being facetious.  In my opinion that is what is wrong with America today  - No responsibility for yourself, No discipline, Low expectations and I can go on and on.

Well my part in 4-H centered around sheep at first then I added some hogs (pigs for city folks) then steers (that means bulls that were de-bulled, get it? castrated and I am not going to explain).  I also even took a shot at canning one year where I learned to put up fruit in jars and preserve them for the winter using a pressure cooker.   That was fun and interesting as I helped mom every year put up all kinds of things for eating during the winter.  Now for some folks "put up" does not resonate with your up-bringing so here is a little enlightenment.  Everyone had large gardens and even fields of crops that a person could eat if you could preserve them for later.  For example:  we had what seemed like thousands of green bean plants and we put up THOUSANDS of jars and later we learned how to freeze them which was much easier.  However I have to warn you that putting in jars was safer because if you ever lost power to the freezer the frozen items would spoil and there would be no food for winter and there was no WalMart (thank goodness).  We also picked, shucked and then cut corn off the cob for canning (put-up).  Tomatoes, rhubarb, apples, strawberries and anything we could grow was PUT-UP for winter.  There were two things I was glad we never put up for winter - radishes and celery. Those things are disgusting.  In fact I propose to you that there are only two things God does not like and they are Sin and Selery (Celery), get it?

4-H added so many other things to my life that just need to wait for another story.  I would just encourage anyone to get their kids involved in 4-H and then spend time working with your kids.  It brings parents and kids together with a common cause and together you win and lose but it is together that matters.

So what do you learn in the Osage?

  • Responsibility
  • Free enterprise
  • Love of the farm and God's creation
  • Appreciation for down time because there is always something to do

Thanks for your time,
gary@thepioneerman.com

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