Story by JANE WHITE - The Billings Outpost
Jasmine Drange and her brother Spencer celebrated the centennial anniversary of 4-H as they created, controlled and repaired – especially the hoop obstacle – the goat obstacle course during the junior showmanship goat competition on Aug. 16 at MontanaFair.
“Our duty as 4-Hers is to make sure our animals are prepared before we get here,” she said.
She had a long blonde braid wrapping from behind her ear all the way down to her elbow and was dressed in a kelly green tie-dye shirt with big bejeweled heart earrings and a similarly jewel-bedecked medallion around her neck. She cheerfully made sure all goat-related activities flowed smoothly at the obstacle course.
Sending goats home if they were sick and reminding goatherds to rasp excessively pointy, dangerous horns, the Dranges calmly kept the bleating goats and the playing children under control in the chaotic, sawdust-covered corral at the Expo Center.
Ms. Drange said she teaches kids how to show their animals and how to keep their areas clean. In addition to teaching, she and her brother set up and tear down the obstacle course.
Ms. Drange conducted a quick demonstration of the obstacle course, including the canopy, the water, tires, hoop, balance beam, four bales of hay with delicious goat-attracting foliage stuck in them, a wood bridge, a tarp, and a concluding run between two chutes. This is the first time a hoop was used in the goat obstacle course.
“We used pieces we had at home so we could share obstacles with the llama obstacle course,” Ms. Drange said. “This is more about fun than competing. Whey they have a big smile on their faces, that’s what we want.”
Spencer Drange said, “We do this for fun. It’s like: “Oh, you won the goat course last year. All the goat kids know each other. How much fun you have depends on how much you’ve worked with your goat.”
Two young goatherds, Alden Jaeger and Adria Gertsch, Ages 11 and 9, are two 4-Hers who have had great fun with their goats. Bitsey is his pygmy goat, about 3 years old. Hers is named Sage.
At the last fence of the obstacle course, Bitsey stared out at all possible options except over the fence. Alden was huffing, directing her over the fence. He lifted her by the chest and tail. Over she went.
Next year he is getting a milk cow. His aunt in Nevada currently has a farm and will bring the cow to Montana next year.
Alden has dogs now where he lives in Billings, while his goat lives at his grandmother Cathy Garying’s farm, out near Pryor. He said the goat Bitsey is not very well behaved.
“She is like, at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said, referring to the ranking system that herd animals impose on themselves. Bottle-fed and part of a triplet, whose two other kids had died, Bitsey likes all grown-ups, but not other goats. There are 11 other goats in Bitsey’s herd.
Two of them are half la mancha sheep and half pygmy. “They are pretty ugly,” said Alden. He said he is in everything in 4-H, including archery, skateboarding and cooking.