Group effort at the fair

MARSHALL – Minneota junior Garrett Moorse got his first goats as a birthday present when he was in first grade, before he was even old enough to show goats at the fair. Now, 10 years later, Moorse has earned the reputation for being the go-to guy when it comes to showing dairy goats and dairy cows.

Along with Moorse’s own animals, those of his three younger siblings and others that are leased by additional 4-H members, a total of 24 cattle and 35 goats from his farm will be shown this year at the 110th Annual Lyon County Fair in Marshall.

“I showed five rabbits (Tuesday night), and then I have five dairy goats to show (today) and eight dairy cows to show (today),” Moorse said. “I enjoy it. I go to a lot of open dairy goat shows, and I’ve done very well, so I’ll just keep going. I also lease dairy goats to about 12 different kids, so there are about 15 of us that show goats from our farm.”

Throughout the afternoon Wednesday, Moorse was a busy 16- year-old, clipping, cleaning and milking various goats for people. A Wahl clippers, wet wipes, Fight Bac teat disinfectant, milk stand and grain were some of the essentials he used to get the job done.

“I woke up really early, did all the chores, washed the cattle, got all the goats here and put them in their pens,” he said. “Now, we just have to finish touch-ups on the goats and the cows.”

Along with Alpines, Lamanchas and Saanens, Moorse and his family also have about 75 Boer nannies for a commercial herd. Moorse uses the comprehensive knowledge and experience he’s gained from raising both dairy and market goats to help others with their projects in addition to raising the bar for himself. He is currently the Lyon County 4-H Federation president.

“I’m the county youth leader, so a lot of people know me and know I have a lot of goats,” Moorse said. “I’ve taken dairy cows every year I’ve went to the state fair. Then, I’ve leased dairy goats to the state fair the last three years. Every year, we’ve come home with at least one champion.”

The first year, the Moorse family sent two goats. The dairy goat earned champion honors, and the market goat earned a top five placing. The next year, the Moorses sent three dairy goats.

“One goat was champion, and the other two both won their class,” Moorse said. “Last year, we sent five up there from my farm. Everyone won its class and we had two champions, and three honorable mentions.”

This year, Moorse is looking to have at least three champions at the state fair.

“I know we’ve got the potential,” he said. “The kids just have to listen to me, trust that I know what I’m doing and set them up how I say.”

One doe that Moorse leases to a fellow 4-H member recently earned reserve national championship recognition at an open show. As he continues to improve his herd, Moorse enjoys taking time to help others learn.

“Kids come to my house once, twice, three or four times a week to work with their goats,” Moorse said. “We practice showmanship every time, especially how to walk them.”

Moorse said that the kids also learn how to properly clip their animal.

“Sometimes we have to stop them and redo it, but it’s all part of the learning,” he said.

For Moorse, the best part about 4-H and showing livestock is “learning, having fun and meeting new people.”

It takes a great deal of preparation and effort, however, to bring livestock to the fair. Tracy senior Jacob Bengtson had his hands full while taking numerous calves back and forth to the water trough.

“I’ve never had a calf this strong,” Bengtson said about his sister’s fall calf. “Dad bought her at a sale, and I’m glad he did.”

While getting bathed, two Highland cattle, a Scottish breed, stood still for Bailey McConnell and her father, Tom, although it took some time to get the cattle clean. While Tom McConnell sanded 5-year-old Holli’s horns, his daughter applied and rinsed shampoo on the 1,200-pound animal.

“She likes the pampering,” said Bailey McConnell, a junior from Tracy.

The McConnells also washed Holli’s 4-month-old calf Fergus, who waited patiently for his turn.

Tracy Area ninth-grader Hannah Brockway took time to bathe her two Suffolk sheep before showing them on Wednesday.

“Mary Jane and Peter have to be clean,” she said. “I think the cold water feels good, but they don’t really like getting a bath. They especially don’t like their faces washed or if you get water in their ears.”

Brockway, who is also showing a horse, yellow beans and a shirt and skirt she sewed, is optimistic that she’ll do well this year but said that the showmanship competition could be interesting.

“I got them at the beginning of the summer, and the first time I was trying to lead them, they laid down on me,” Brockway said. “But they’re leading better now.”

Lakeview senior Caitlin Louwagie won the senior showmanship category for dairy cows last year and is hoping to do well again this year.

“For showmanship, you have to pay attention to the judge and your animal,” she said. “Your goal is basically to show off your animal the best you can.”

Using her brother’s winter calf Renae as an example, Louwagie took time to talk about dairy traits with Jacob Orren, Mickel Goepferich and Cole Remiger.

“The judges look for a sharp dairy animal,” Louwagie said. “You want long legs and a deep body from the shoulder to the hook and pins. You want them to be deep through the back line, down all the way through her belly. And you want them to generally have straight legs. You don’t want their toes pointing out at all.”

Remiger, 7, who is showing calves for the first time, is leasing Renae from the Louwagie family.

“I’m not nervous at all,” he said. “I’ll be showing two calves.”

In his final year of 4-H, Orren is showing four pigs.

“I hope to do well,” Orren said. “I earned a state fair trip last year and got a blue ribbon up there.”

Along with their daughter Jenni Bartmann and their granddaughters, Grace Dulka, Christin Bartmann and Kendra Gilbert, Barb and Al Gilmore made preparations for the draft horse show Wednesday evening. In addition to primping six massive horses, each of them weighing 2,000 pounds, the crew also cleaned the collar, housing, harness and other equipment.

“They’re a lot of work, but they’re a lot of fun,” Al Gilmore said.

While the Gilmores have had some of the Percherons out for three weddings and one funeral so far this year, they had not showed the entire team of six yet. It’s something they were looking forward to.

“The best part about showing horses is the time together,” Barb Gilmore said. “It’s a family affair.”