Ahh . . .The Lazy Days of Summer . . . NOT at Grieb Ranch!


Chocolate Chip Pancake Santa Barbara County Fair 2014 shown by Ethan Willems

Chocolate Chip Pancake Santa Barbara County Fair 2014 shown by Ethan Willems

Summer brings an increase in activities for Grieb Ranch, as animals are prepped and then taken to “The Fair” bringing on a whirlwind of activities. This year Ethan took a Replacement Heifer to the Santa Barbara County Fair held July 5-12. A Replacement Heifer is a female cow around 24-32 months old that is pregnant and is due to calve her first calf in the Fall. A rancher will purchase the Replacement Heifer to replace an older cow in his or her herd.

At home Ethan prepped “Chocolate Chip Pancake” or “CC” for short, and worked with her to prepare her for being judged in the Replacement Heifer Class and the Showmanship class. He also worked with his 4-H group in designing the stall area for the Fair.

Saturday, July 5 was Prep Day. The stall area was set up by the 4-H kids, which includes educational posters and decorations and name cards for each animal. Ethan’s 4-H group was awarded 3rd Place in stall decorations.

Sunday, July 6 was Move-in Day. This is probably the craziest of the days as EVERYONE who is camping at the Fair grounds is moving in their camper, trailer or whatever into a very large parking lot to settle in for the whole week. Another trip brought the animals and got them and their food and gear situated in the stall area. Imagine cows, pigs, turkeys, sheep, bunnies, chickens and more all arriving with their owners to get set up for a week of fair activities.

Each animal type has a different show schedule during the week. Since Ethan “just” had a Replacement Heifer here is what the rest of his week turned out to be.

Monday, July 7 was Animal Inspection Day. “CC” was weighed and also pregnancy checked. She had to meet the minimum weight and had to be pregnant (due in the Fall) in order to qualify to be shown at the fair. She passed both as she weighed in at 1408 lbs and was 6 months pregnant.

Quiz Jam Flyer for Santa Barbara County Fair.

Quiz Jam Flyer for Santa Barbara County Fair.

Monday evening was the “Quiz Jam” for the fair participants. This was a new event for this year’s fair and sponsored by Farm Supply. This timed event challenged teams of 4 to compete against other teams in agricultural challenges. The challenges were: put on a tractor tire, make an irrigation structure, rope a dummy calf, paint brand the dummy calf, ear notch, band (a form of castration), fill a syringe to give a pretend shot, and gear up in a safety suit which included the boots, gloves and goggles.  It was great fun to watch. Following the Quiz Jam was the Exhibitor’s Test.

Tuesday, July 8 was Rest Day. Nothing major was on the schedule so Ethan kicked back with friends, but still did his barn duties. There really is no rest when taking care of animals.

Wednesday, July 9 was Show Prep Day. This day was spent prepping the animals for showmanship and then the class judging. CC was bathed, rinsed, and groomed with a blow dryer and grooming tools to bring out the best in her coat. Here is a video clip of “fluffy cows” that went viral last summer.

Thursday, July 10 was Showmanship Judging. This class is judged on how well you show your animal. The Exhibitor is judged on his or her placement around the animal during the judging, how well he or she handles the animal, and the animal’s response to the exhibitor. This is where practice at home usually pays off.

Friday, July 11 was the Replacement Heifer class followed by the Auction. Livestock in this category are judged on such things as traits, structural correctness and soundness, style and balance and degree of muscling. CC didn’t get any major awards but she showed well. She then went to the Replacement Heifer auction that evening and was purchased by a local rancher to fit into his cow herd. So Ethan said goodbye to his friend CC.

Saturday, July 12 was the Market Animal Auction. This is the day that all the animals destined for the market are auctioned off. This is where the Junior Livestock Exhibitors get their monetary reward for all the hard work of feeding and caring for their animals. However, probably to biggest reward is all the experience gained and the friendships made and the fair memories to treasure for a lifetime.

Sunday, July 13 was a Quiet Day. With most of the animals gone the fair grounds are quiet.

Monday, July 14 Move-Out Day. Ethan and crew helped load-out the steers at 5 am, then took all the stall decorations down and loaded up the gear and left-over feed and hauled it all back home; another Fair in the books.


Meanwhile, back at the Ranch . . . Papa Carl took his first vacation in 5 years so Connie took on the feeding of all the ranch stock. Some days were better than others, but she was glad to have Papa back for sure.


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