MINFORD — Cocoa and Snowball are two playful, frolicking, somewhat mischievous but visibly happy goats as they play (and even annoy) their loving young owner, Kristen Bailey, the 10-year-old daughter of Misty and Roger Bailey, of Minford.
Kristen spends countless hours everyday caring for her goats as part of her involvement in the 4-H program, a program that her mother says has really impacted who her daughter is as person. In fact, it has been so influential that Kristen’s siblings Daniel Bailey, who is 5, and Alyson Bailey, who is 12, have even gotten involved.
“They all started in 4-H because of Kristen,” Misty stated.
She went on to explain that when Kristen was younger, she wanted to be a veterinarian. Wanting to encourage her child, Misty spoke with Kristen about 4-H.
Misty explained that growing up she did not get involved with 4-H and didn’t have experience with raising animals such as goats.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm,” she said.
Still, she wanted the best for Kristen and knew that 4-H could help expose her to animals and help her learn about their care.
Since that time, Misty has seen that 4-H has taught Kristen and her other children much more.
“I think 4-H has been a great way for them to learn sportsmanship,” she said as she explained that the children are not active in sports, but through 4-H they still learn to be competitive but also learn about both accomplishments and let downs.
In addition to learning sportsmanship, Misty says the children also learn to be humble.
“They see how hard they work, and they are proud, but they are not boastful,” she commented.
Hard work certainly is a characteristic of a 4-H kid. Misty says the children work hard and have learned diligence.
“Both girls are up at 7 a.m. (to feed their animals),” Misty said. “I do not take care of their animals.”
Additionally, Kristen pays for half of her goats’ feed.
“I don’t have any money because I still owe some from last time,” Kristen burst out with a sense of accomplishment and a huge smile.
Daniel is very excited about his first year as a Cloverbud; however, his sisters both have much more experience and will working this year with the Webster Wranglers 4-H group.
Kristen was a Cloverbud for three years. This is now her 5th year in 4-H overall. Last year, Kristen showed goats and also did a veterinary science project. This year she will be completing an “All About Dogs” program with her 9-year-old beagle Emma, doing an art program and showing her goats.
While walking her goats on a lead, Kristen explained that Cocoa is her female dairy goat, who will be a year old in April.
“She is a lot calmer than her brother Snowball, and she knows how to open both our screen door and the gates on both pins,” Kristen said with a chuckle.
Her second goat, Snowball is a one-year-old pygmy.
“He’s a very bratty goat,” she said before explaining that he also is not housebroken.
Kristen has raised both goats since they were young enough that they required bottle feedings. Snowball was so small that he could fit in her hand.
Kristen explained that showing goats is a lot of work. She has to feed them a cup of grain every morning, give them hay every night, clip their hooves, groom them, walk them and play with them. But, all that work is worthwhile to Kristen.
“I love animals,” she said. “First of all, it’s definitely very entertaining. They’re (Cocoa and Snowball) very fun, and they’re fun to show.”
Kristen added that being in 4-H has given her the opportunity to learn about her interests while also making lots of close friends.
Alyson went straight into 4-H rather than starting as a Cloverbud. She has been in 4-H for three years. Though she does not show animals, Alyson also enjoys learning about her passions. This year, she will be doing a second year of cake decorating and will be doing a dog obedience program with her dog Sadie.
Alyson explained that she wants to have a career as a baker, and 4-H helps her to learn some of the skills she will need later in life.
Through 4-H, Alyson has learned to persevere. Last year, it took her three attempts to have a entry worthy cake. She explained that she burnt the first cake and iced the second while it was still warm. Her third cake, however, was not only good enough to enter, it placed. For her first year, she made and one layer iced cake. This year, she plans to step it up with a two layer cake that has fondant and some more complex design work.
The dog obedience project is a much more fun activity that allows Alyson to engage with her dog that she already enjoys spending time with.
“We got Sadie last year that day after Father’s Day,” Alyson explained. “She was about two-months-old when we got her.”
She added that the dog is half black Labrador and half Siberian Husky as she showed off Sadie’s one blue eye and one brown eye.
Alyson is excited to see what all the dog obedience program will include.
“We’re going to be going to the meeting, and someone is going to be there to help us with the dogs,” she explained. “I think it’s just going to be like basic training like sit, stay, come, yield and things like that.”
Although 4-H is hard, Alyson says enjoyment makes up for the effort.
“It’s work, but it’s fun,” she commented.
After seeing all the ways her children have benefited from 4-H, Misty is quick to suggest the youth development program to others.
“As a parent, if you’ve been thinking about 4-H, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try it,” she said.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.