Mansfield FFA set for NCW Fair

David MacDonald with his goat Jackie says they are almost ready for the NCW Fair taking place from Aug. 24-27. (Empire Press photo/Adrienne Douke)

 

By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Mansfield Future Farmers of America students are busy preparing their animals for exhibit at the North Central Washington Fair in Waterville, Aug. 24-27.

For the participants, exhibiting their animals is the highlight of the season, the culmination of their hard work.

(Provided image)

The FFA program makes a positive difference for students who participate. It helps them develop their potential in leadership skills, and fosters personal growth and career success through rigorous agricultural education.

For David MacDonald, a Mansfield High School junior and an FFA member, the month of August is showtime. MacDonald has worked hard for months to get his goat Jackie ready for exhibit. This is MacDonald’s second year of exhibiting livestock at the NCW Fair.

A lot of work goes into the animal exhibits. Not only must they be in their best condition, they must demonstrate obedience. MacDonald explains that he began training Jackie as soon as he got her when she was 3 months old. It takes patience to tame and train a goat, and it’s a daily exercise.

MacDonald sees that Jackie has fresh water daily. “And plenty of nutritious food is a must,” MacDonald said as he tossed several cans of feed into the her dish. “They like to eat all the time, the rest of the time they chew their cud.”

MacDonald’s first order of business was to tame his young goat. He had to establish trust and friendship, so that when they are in the arena she can trust him as her guide. It is a daily practice to get her used to him and to behave herself. Good behavior is not something that comes naturally to goats in general. They are well known for their mischief making.

Once Jackie was tamed and docile, MacDonald could work with her. MacDonald explained that this was important for the next step which was to shave her to remove her hair. Shaving the goat gives judges a better view of her conformation. It also makes it easier for MacDonald to bathe her.

Last year, MacDonald won first place in the Meat Market category, and first place in Fitting and Showing. “So I have a better idea this year as to what’s expected,” he said.

MacDonald is looking forward to the fair and says Jackie is very close to being ready for exhibiting.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with her, worked with her, and she’s almost ready,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald agrees that it’s a lot of work, but also a rewarding experience “especially when we win.”

He encourages young people to give the FFA program and exhibiting animals at the fair a try. “It requires responsibility and commitment to see the process through. It taught me a certain level of professionalism towards my goat and other people while I’m showing. I think the experience makes me a better person, and I have learned a lot about myself by how I treat my goats. It’s a good place to start to learn about animal husbandry, and about the agricultural industry.”