4-H families: a legacy of generations

TYLER – Lincoln County Fair and 4-H kids were busy grooming and preparing cattle for judging Friday afternoon at the fair.

Jake Fischer, 13, an his brother Kyle, 11, were getting their entries Oreo and Tornado ready.

“She’s called Tornado because the white on her nose looks like a Tornado,” Kyle Fischer explained.

The Fischer boys live with their parents near Tyler and belong to the Marshfield 4-H chapter.

“I love it that they’re in 4-H,” said their mom, Cheryl Fischer. “It’s very good for them and it helps them grow and learn.”

But 4-H is not just for farmers, Cheryl explained.

“There’s lots of non-livestock activities,” Cheryl Fischer said. “There’s photography, food, clothing, safety, health, and you can even lease animals.”

The Fischer boys’ uncle has a dairy farm, and they take the calves during summer for their 4-H activities and return them in the fall when they become big enough to breed and milk. Cheryl Fischer said she thinks the boys like the idea of dairy farming but don’t yet understand the hardships involved in a business you cannot take a break from.

Jenni Wendland’s four children are all in 4-H. The Wendlands have a dairy farm near Arco, and Jenni’s daughter, Maddison, 10, has a cow in the show.

“I wasn’t in 4-H,” Wendland said, “The kids saw all their friends in it and wanted to do it. It’s been a learning curve learning to show. I think it’s good for the kids and teaches them responsibility.”

Wendland said she thinks her son, now 12, will go into the family business because he’s involved in all aspects of the farm.

“The girls are more into milking and there’s only so much farm to go around between four kids,” Wendland said. “We finally got a vacation, our first alone after five-plus years, because my son milks and we got a man to help.”

As hard as the livestock business is, there are still people who grow up in it and want to continue.

Jake and Shelly Delaney have a Hereford ranch near Lake Benton. They are second generation 4-Hers, and recently welcomed a grand-daughter who they fully expect will be a fourth generation 4-Her.

“It’s been a great experience for our children,” Shelly Delaney said. “They met a lot of people and learned a lot of things about cattle.”

The Delaney children are all following in the family business. They have one child still in 4-H.

“We’ve got three in the business right now and one starting SDSU majoring in ag in the fall,” Jake Delaney said.

Kids growing up on farms and tending livestock know first-hand the work is hard and vacations are few. Jake and Shelly Delaney’s daughter, Katie, grew up with the business and was in 4-H.

“If it’s in your blood it’s one of those things that’s hard to kick,” Katie Delaney said.