by Emily Armentrout
Dustin Lee is a 10-year member of the Wabash County 4-H. He is a member of the Lagro Speedy Clovers, and he has worked with veal, dairy, beef, feeder calves, garden, goats and swine during participation in the 4-H fair.
“I wouldn’t be doing this without my family. I’ve been doing this for 10 years and I wouldn’t even be in it if it weren’t for our Uncle Larry getting us started,” said Lee.
The family started out in veal. After winning showmanship multiple times with veal and even winning a reserve championship, Lee moved on to feeder calves, dairy beef and goats. This year he is taking two 4-month old feeder calves, a year old dairy beef steer, and five goats, ranging in ages from five months old to six years old.”
Lee’s usual routine with the animals begins at 6:30 in the morning when he milks the goats for the first time that day. While he goes to work at Pefley’s, his brother, Cody, and his Uncle Larry take care of the calves. At night, Dustin milks the goats again and helps Cody and Larry finish bedding, feeding and watering the animals.
“This is a family thing. It isn’t one person who does it all. Dustin and Larry do a lot of it, but it’s all of us. I already put in my 10 years and so did Larry, but it’s a family thing. Growing up around it, it becomes a part of your life,” added Dustin’s brother, Cody.
Even going to the State Fair is a family affair. “It is like our family vacation. We get a hotel and stay down their during the fair. It’s our getaway from everything else,” added Cody. Dustin has been going to the State Fair since 2006, where he has won second in his class in dairy feeder calves.
Wabash County Fair week began Sunday night, and Lee took his animals to the fairgrounds for the final time and where he will be honored with the other 10-year members of 4-H.
Lee’s show days are the Tuesday and Thursday of fair week. Tuesday is the beef show, so he will be showing his feeder calves and his steer. Thursday is his goat show. Show day routine starts with getting the animals cleaned up. They get baths and their pens are to remain clean to avoid having to give them second baths.
Once in the arena, Lee is to be in control of his animal, and he also has to set them up to present the animal to the judge. Setting up an animal is basically making sure their hooves are placed correctly, making a rectangle, so they aren’t bent in under the animal. Beyond control and set up, the rest is at the judge’s discretion.
“You have different judges every year, so you don’t know the criteria because they all have different opinions. I can’t do much other than setting the calf up,” explained Lee.
“You’ll see so many aerosol cans, blowers, and even spray paint for animals hooves. You wouldn’t believe the things they do to make the animals look nicer,” added Cody.
Though they don’t know the exact criteria, Lee must be doing something right because over his 10 years he has won multiple reserve championships, first class ribbons and has even won breed champion with feeder Holsteins five times. Lee has over 100 ribbons ranging from participation ribbons to first in class ribbons to reserve champion ribbons.
Lee anticipates success with his feeder calves this year, which he also plans on taking down to the State Fair at the end of July. “I don’t do 4-H just to win. I enjoy seeing friends and showing the animals but winning is more important this year because it’s my last year,” said Lee.