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Raising fair animals in city limits a rewarding challenge
Raising large animals within the city limits may be more challenging than on the outskirts of town, but in the end, it is worth it to have the opportunity to learn invaluable life skills, students say.
Kofa High School senior Allison Hotel, 17, has been showing pairs of sheep since she was in eighth grade and explained that the experience has ultimately aided her in becoming a more responsible person.
Some kids have a flippant attitude toward animals, she said, but raising livestock helped increase her respect for animals, especially after having to watch them go off to the slaughterhouse.
“It gets easier each year. Each year you cry a little less,” said Hotel, who is the Kofa FFA chapter president and the vice president of the 4-H community club Yuma Mesa Jackrabbits. In addition to raising sheep, she has raised goats and rabbits.
When asked if her neighbors ever complain about the noise of the sheep, Hotel, who lives near Kofa's campus, said that her older brother also used to show lambs and they have had the same neighbors for the past 16 years.
Thankfully, they adore the animals, Hotel said.
Yuma High School senior Kelsie Grimsley, 18, who started raising sheep for the first time this year, wasn't so lucky.
Her neighbor complained about the noise and Grimsley had to move them to her grandparents' house, which is also within the city limits.
“If they write a written complaint, there's nothing you can do about it,” she said, noting that it makes it more difficult to take care of the animals when they are not at her own home.
According to city regulations, 4-H and FFA students are required to let their neighbors know that they are planning to purchase an animal, she said, but her neighbors had been renting at the time. When the owners came back, they were unhappy with the noise level of the animals and wrote a written complaint, Grimsley said.
Grimsley, who also raises rabbits and cavies, explained that raising larger animals for the first time was quite a different experience than raising the smaller animals she was used to.
“They're small when you get them, but they grow up quickly,” she said, noting that she is the only one from the Yuma High FFA group raising lambs this year.
She explained that it is a lot harder than it looks because the animals require a lot of work to curb their stubbornness.
“If you don't take the time to work with your animals, they're going to run all over you. It's a huge time commitment, but honestly, I think it's worth it,” she said, noting that the experience has helped her gain confidence in herself.
Kevin Eatherly, a member of the Junior Livestock Committee of the Yuma County Fair, said it is important for all kids to get the chance to raise animals, no matter what their address.
“We're here to make sure these kids have a local opportunity to raise animals and that it continues generation after generation.”
Not only does it teach the students about responsibility, said Eatherly, but it also teaches them how to manage their money when taking care of their animals. Students keep records from the day they purchase their livestock up until the day they are sold in April, Eatherly noted, commenting that they need to monitor their spending to ensure that they can reinvest in an animal for the following year.
He said that a large majority of kids with projects for the fair actually live in neighborhoods within the city limits. The city regulations state that of the larger livestock animals, kids can only raise goats, lambs and Holstein calves within the city limits from Sept. 1 to April 15, said Eatherly.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858.