This past weekend, Wee\’s 4-H equine club kicked off another year and we held an introductory ride, barbecue and first meeting here. The entire grand day reminded me that this old log house has likely been witness to more than one such event over the past 30 years, for previous to our family, lived another with a 4-H mom and leader. I love the idea of lingering traditions, so we\’re happy to keep this one up.
It reminded me also of finding this sign sometime after we moved in, tangled and long buried in the tall grass of the ditch, likely having been mowed over by an overzealous grader or snow plow driver. We revived it\’s lease on life and it now hangs on our garage, announcing a 4-H family still lives here.
Roger is Wee\’s cutting horse, and we saddled him up for a new member who hasn\’t quite found her own horse yet. True to the 4-H creed, the older members helped the new members get on with it.
Wee and Blue returned a little worse for the wear, one for perhaps indulging a little too heavily on the abundant pastures of early fall, and the other for staying up too late the night prior. I couldn\’t be too critical, she did get up early to bake and ice two sets of cupcakes!
The day got me to thinking on the big picture of 4-H, especially Equine 4-H. We talk a lot about this at my 4-H circles – events, lessons and meetings. I wonder how the scene and membership numbers compares to say 20 or even 30 or 40 years ago.
I found a few stats on the Canadian 4-H Council website, dating back to 2008-2009. In the five year span from then until now equine club membership has dropped 12%. It\’s an expected drop I suppose, not as much as some of the other ag-centric 4-H projects (Beef membership, for instance has dropped 25%), but a drop all the same.
Later, as we watched the last of the trailers pull out of the yard and I had a chance to give Wee a big hug of pure happiness, I couldn\’t help but get the obvious point – how much fun kids can have when you offer up a setting that\’s relaxing and low-stress. Fill them up with an equal balance of healthy food and sugar, and give them a big open space to run it all off with a game of man-tracker, and a backroad to ride down, and I defy your heart not to sing by the end of the day.
Would love to hear your reminiscences on the 4-H of your youth, and what it looked like then, for you, and what it meant to you, as a member, or parent.