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Thompson sisters have got it covered

Thompson sisters have got it covered

The Thompson sisters of Oakdale show a few of their 4-H and FFA project animals that they have entered at this year’s Stanislaus County Fair. From left, Natalie with her heifer, Tiffany with her ho...


POSTED July 11, 2012 3:21 p.m.

Oakdale’s Thompson sisters, Tiffany, 17; Melissa, 15; Denise, 14; and Natalie, 12, have covered almost all the bases when it comes representing the various 4-H and FFA exhibits at the Stanislaus County Fair.

While at the fair, visitors are bound to see a number of their projects. Between them, the sisters are exhibiting beef cattle, sheep, a dairy replacement heifer, swine, poultry, and rabbits, and they also have Home Economics entries for sewing and home furnishings at the fair this year.

Each of the girls joined 4-H as nine-year-olds and each has learned from and helped the others.

“All of us started with sheep,” said eldest sister Tiffany. “Then we all found different interests in different animals for projects.”

Melissa was the first to start with beef cattle for a project, and Tiffany and Denise began to raise rabbits about the same time. Youngest sister Natalie had beef cattle her first year in 4-H, taking advantage of her older sisters’ beef project knowledge and experience.

“When Tiffany was doing sheep (for a project), I learned how to show sheep before I even got into the project,” Melissa noted.

“I would help them before I even got into 4-H, so I had a head start,” Denise added.

Tiffany is in Oakdale FFA with her sheep and a market hog. Melissa will represent Orange Blossom 4-H club with her Buff Brahma rooster and hen, as well as a Dutch rooster and hen, and Oakdale FFA with her Hereford beef cattle and first-year Holstein dairy replacement heifer. Denise competes with her sheep for Oakdale FFA. Natalie competes for Orange Blossom 4-H with all her projects that include beef, sheep, and poultry.

That’s a lot of animals to keep track of at the fair and they have responsibilities with care and showing in various animal barns.

“We kind of help each other out. If Melissa is going to be somewhere else, we’ll help,” Denise said.

The sisters acknowledge that they stay pretty busy, and summer is definitely one of the busiest times of year, especially around fair time.

Melissa reported that a typical day starts with feeding the animals in the morning – the cows take about a half hour and the sheep take about 15 minutes. After they’ve fed all the mooing, bleating, oinking, crowing, and hopping critters, they work with their respective project animals by exercising, practicing showing, and washing them. Tiffany added that when they finish, she and her sisters go home to eat lunch and then return to the barn in the late afternoon to feed and practice more showmanship.

Tiffany added that their schedules are also a lot more intense during the summer because they’re also involved in a number of other 4-H and FFA activities such as Fashion Revue, Presentation Day, Creed contests, and club officer events and contests. All four girls are officers in Orange Blossom 4-H Club, and Tiffany and Melissa are also Oakdale FFA chapter officers, plus Tiffany is also a FFA sectional officer.

Going to the county fair is a rewarding experience for the sisters. Tiffany said that they like being able to show off all their projects and what they’ve done throughout the year, plus seeing their friends from around the county. Melissa added that she really enjoys the experience with the animals because, she said, they bond with them.

All four sisters have sewing projects entered and three of them also have home furnishings projects entered at the fair. They said that the sewing takes a fair amount of time, but they finish those fair entries earlier in the year. In sewing, Tiffany made a dress and tote bag, Melissa made a fun duct tape and table cloth outfit, Denise made a tote bag, and Natalie also made a dress and tote.

“(Through 4-H) I’ve learned how to talk in front of a big group of people, learned how to sew, take care of animals…” Natalie said.

Melissa added that they’ve learned responsibility, leadership, public speaking, and other skills that have made them more prepared for future jobs. Denise also noted how those skills translate to job interviews and doing hard work.

“Overall, it’s just a really good experience,” Tiffany said, “…and it’s fun. We meet a lot of new people. A lot of our closest friends we’ve met through 4-H and FFA.”

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