HEUVELTON Ten-year-old Madelyn A. Hunter, Hammond, was the lucky recipient of a lamb Friday, courtesy of St. Lawrence County Cornell Cooperative Extensions Lamb Program.
She has been showing her grandparents cows at the Gouverneur Fair for a few years, but shell be new to the sheep program, said Amy L. Sands, a Cooperative Extension youth educator for the past 11 years.
Joined by Mrs. Sands and parents Karalee Neuroth and Jeffrey D. Hunter, Madelyn visited the 256 Irish Settlement Road Pair-A-Docs Ranch of Carolyn M. and Kelvin D. Pierce on Friday afternoon. There, she was presented with one of Mrs. Pierces Suffolk lambs.
Over the past six years, Mrs. Pierce said, she has donated four or five lambs to the project. My main goal is to churn up interest and some exposure for the countys 4-H sheep program, Mrs. Pierce said. I understand that people are moving away from farms and farming, but getting the kids involved teaches responsibility and promotes hard work. The county sheep group is small, but dedicated. There are still farmers remaining who are attempting to ensure there will continue to be a program.
Open to all youth involved with 4-H, the lamb award project has seen its numbers decline over the past decade owing to a turnover of membership and the fact that local farmers are selling their sheep herds, Mrs. Sands said.
Numbers are declining every year. Thats the trend for both open class and for 4-H at the shows, she said. Our 4-H kids are graduating and new kids are not coming in. There are still sheep on the farms, but kids arent showing them.
Madelyn actually became the first youngster to adopt a lamb through the project in two years, Mrs. Sands said. To qualify for the donation, Madelyn was required to write an essay explaining why she wanted a lamb, how she would care for, feed and house it, other experiences and responsibilities she has had with other animals, and her plans for raising and showing it, which she is required by the program to do.
I want a lamb because I would like a bigger responsibility in my life, she said. And I want to start showing sheep by myself. The 10-year-old went on to explain her feeding and watering plans for both good weather and bad, and described the barn the animal would be in as a nice big area where it can run around in.
She said she plans to shear her lamb with her own clippers, a practice she said she learned at 4-H dairy camp.
My parents are planning on getting some sheep to raise the same way, she said.