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As big as a barn

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STRONG LEAD: Anthoney Murray works to keep control of his calf in Holstein Starter Calves Class 3 competition during the Dairy and Dairy Beef Show at the Grant County 4-H Fairgrounds on Thursday.
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MATCHING: Ethan Jackson, left, and his sister, Logan, keep their focus on the judge in Holstein Heifers Winter Calf competition during the Dairy and Dairy Beef Show at the Grant County 4-H Fairgrounds on Thursday. Ethan finished first in the class, Logan second.

BY Sara Barker - sbarker@chronicle-tribune.com

Anthoney Murray, the only 10-year member in Thursday’s dairy show at the Grant County 4-H Fair, knows a thing or two about showing cattle.

Generally, Murray said, the cows that act up while in the ring aren’t used to the noise and the crowd. He also said first-time showers can feel the same uneasiness.

But, being in 4-H teaches you patience, something Murray said showers need a lot of when a cow starts to throw its head around and stomp its feet while being judged.

Sometimes, the over-1,000 pound animals accidentally pin their handlers against the railing.

“You’ve just got to stay calm and try your hardest,” Murray said.

This happened to nine-year old Ethan Jackson with one of his cows the first time he entered 4-H last year. But he agrees with Murray – waiting it out is the best way to make it through a round of judging with an unruly cow.

This year, Ethan’s older sister Logan showed with him, something that he said is comforting.

“You know that they’re going to support you,” he said.

It’s a comfort to mom Christa Jackson, too, who said her kids learn from each other through 4-H.

The size of the animals with her young kids is a concern for her, but in instances like last year, she said all she can do is pray her kids are safe.

Even after 10 years, Murray said showing cows is still a challenge because of their size, but he welcomes the difficulty. This, he said, makes showing in the same county as his seven cousins competitive.

“We’re very competitive against each other,” Murray said.

Another challenge for families on Thursday was the rain, which poured all afternoon long and drenched the fairgrounds. Competitors who entered the ring were sprinkled with rain from standing in the gap between the ring and the cow barn.

Ethan and Logan Jackson said the rain was good for their farm, though. The cool weather takes the heat off of the animals, which Ethan said breathe harder when they get too hot.

“We need it bad,” Logan said.

Murray said he will take what he’s learned in 4-H, like responsibility and planning skills, with him to Purdue University Fort Wayne in the fall. There, he will study civil engineering, a job he said has variety and will never get boring for him.

Reflecting back on his years in 4-H, Murray said he hopes the younger generation of breeders and handlers bond with their animals in the same way he has.