The 30 seconds to three minutes inside the ring of the Grays Harbor 4-H & FFA Livestock Auction could seem like an eternity for the young individuals who rounded the enclosure with their animals. The few anxious moments spent waiting for the bidding to begin seemed brief, however, compared to the time put into the care of the animal. Yet in the end, it was worth every minute to bring home every penny from the sale of the projects.
The 2014 auction at the Grays Harbor County Fair on Saturday earned a record amount for the 4-H and FFA participants with the animals sold raising more than $91,000 in purchased price and donations. For most of the students, the auction is the end of a project that has been months of hard work and dedication to raise an animal, and while the funds raised from the sale may be used for school clothes, a car or college tuition, the lessons the students take from the projects are truly priceless.
For Colby Trusty, of Porter, the sale marked her 11th and final year showing cattle and her fifth year selling her animal at the auction. The recent Elma High School graduate would wake up early every morning to check on Bob, her 1-year-old Charolais Angus steer.
“Responsibility is one of the things that you learn because you have to wake up, you have to feed them twice or maybe three times a day, you have to work with them constantly and make sure they are OK,” Trusty said.
Trusty began her work with Bob back in February, spending a few hours each morning working so the steer would be well behaved in the show ring and perfecting her own showmanship. The hours spent working paid off as Bob won grand champion overall FFA steer and Trusty won grand champion in overall showmanship, but the true payoff came on Saturday when the Charolais steer sold for $3.75 a pound and a total of just over $5,000. Not a bad payday for Trusty, who plans to use the funds to study for a career as a school teacher, even after her expenses on the steer, but a payday that she went the extra mile to earn, literally.
“One of the things that I really liked with auctioning is you learn to market,” Trusty said. “You go out into the public and you go to any business and talk about your animal that you know and that you know well and say here are the qualities of this animal.”
Trusty was one of only two individuals who raised a steer to sell at the auction. Linghong Schoch, 15, sold the other steer, weighing 1,164 pounds. She will be a sophomore at Montesano High School.
The numbers of steers entered in the auction has steadily declined from the 14 sold in 2006 to only two being sold each of the past two years. Despite only having two steers being sold this year, the average price per pound was almost a dollar higher than it has ever been since 2002. Last year, the average price for market steers was $2.88 per pound and in 2014 the average was $3.75 per pound.
The number of steers may have held steady, but the number of market lambs dropped to just five animals being sold, which is one less than each of the last two years and the lowest number ever sold. The average price per pound for lambs set a record by 20 cents by bringing in $8.10 per pound. While steer and lamb numbers decreased, the number of hogs in the auction was the second highest ever with 36 animals being sold. The number was down from the 40 sold last year, but was five more than any other year since 2002.
Twin brothers Andrew and Evan Werner of Elma accounted for two of the hogs in the sale. Raising one of the projects isn’t always just work, but there is plenty of fun as well, such as with naming the animals. Evan named his hog Hashtag.
“I was going to name it the mathematical equivalent of pie, but I couldn’t,” Evan said.
Andrew channeled Shakespeare for his hog’s name, Mirinda.
“It is from The Tempest,” Andrew said. “I studied it for eighth grade so I decided to name my pig after it.”
Both of the brothers have raised a hog each of the last six years. After putting in at least three hours a day working to care for the hogs, the boys have raised more than $4,000 each toward a college fund. The ninth-graders understand the importance of the funds they raise and the lessons they learn.