LOGANSPORT — Eight-year-old Ryan Adams, dressed all in white, helped keep four of his family’s goats in check as his big brother, 10-year-old Nathan, showed a fifth goat in the Cass County 4-H Fair goat show Tuesday morning.
But that wasn’t Ryan’s only job. He was one of 10 Mini 4-H members to join about four dozen older children in the goat show. After leading one of his brother Nathan’s goats into the ring, Ryan kept the goat’s head facing the judge — a skill he’s learned that will come in handy next year, when he graduates into the full-fledged 4-H program.
Cass County’s Mini 4-H’ers are not allowed to enter their own goats in the goat show until they reach regular 4-H age at 9 years old.
However, fair rules allow them to show other people’s goats.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Ryan showed some of the family’s Nubian breed goats both this year and last.
“I thought it would be nice to do and see how it would work out,” Ryan said.
Nathan, the oldest of the Royal Center family’s four boys, started showing goats last year, too, keeping up a family tradition. The boys’
grandmother, Brenda Rusk, is heavily involved in the county 4-H program, and their mother, Diana Adams, also showed goats as a child.
When he finally got to raise and show goats, Nathan learned the distinctive characteristics of the Nubian breed — “the Roman nose and floppy ears.”
This year, the Adams boys raised seven registered Nubians descended from a family line that their grandmother started. Nathan and Ryan took care of feeding and milking the goats each morning and evening in the weeks leading up to the county fair, Diana said.
Then at Tuesday’s goat show, Nathan won reserve champion for a milking doe named Orchestra, or “Orky” for short. Most of the family’s other Nubians share musical names — like Jazz, Singing Sue and Symphony — in a tradition that Rusk started along with the family line.
Nathan will take home the reserve championship banner and trophy for his efforts.
Little brother Ryan looks forward to being able to raise and show his own goats next year, he said.
More 4-H’ers have brought animals to the sheep and goat barn at the fair every year for the past several years, according to Stephanie Rusk, whose husband, Luke, chairs the goat project.
“Sheep even increased this year,” Stephanie said. “A lot of families see the different breeds now and want to try something new.”
Besides the Mini 4-H members, 47 4-H’ers showed goats in Tuesday’s show. Some were from families who had previously shown other animals, like pigs, at the fair. Others brought one of the nearly 20 pygmy goats to show in the pygmy class that was added to the goat show this year.
The new goats — both pygmys and additional dairy and boar goats — packed the sheep and goat barn to capacity. Children have brought in fans to help keep the barn cool and check their animals regularly to make sure they aren’t getting overheated or dehydrated in the close quarters.
“We are squeezed as tight as we can,” Stephanie said.
But so far, this year’s heat is a dry heat, she said, so the barn isn’t as stuffy as it was in last year’s humidity. It’s something she and the young 4-H’ers, like Nathan and Ryan, are grateful for.
• Sarah Einselen is a staff reporter for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.