4-H is all heart Friends help pal after steer dies | TheUnion.com

4-H is all heart Friends help pal after steer dies

John HartDaniel Avera (foreground), 13, stands in front of friends and leaders from Cool Hollow 4-H. Daniel's fellow members contributed $900 to help him buy a new steer after the one he raised for a year died just before auction.
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Daniel Avera worked hard raising his steer for the Nevada County Fair, only to see Big Mac die just before the annual auction.

So his Cool Hollow 4-H pals kicked in money from their own sales to help him buy a steer for next year’s fair.

“It’s pretty cool,” Daniel Avera said. “I’ve never had a youth group do something like this for me.”

In all, Daniel’s fellow 4-H members have contributed $900.

“They all pitched in $100, except for Josh Garner, who got an incredible $4 a pound for his steer and decided to give $200,” said Daniel’s mother, Cathy Avera.

Daniel’s sister Erika donated $100 toward the purchase of the new steer – even though brothers and sisters aren’t supposed to get along, their mother said.

“She wanted to put her ribbon up on Big Mac’s stall because she felt bad for Daniel,” said Cathy Avera.

Auburn cattle rancher Mike Watson supplies steers to 4-H kids every year and will contribute to Daniel’s cause with a $200 discount. The kids buy the steers at $1 a pound, Cathy Avera said, so prices start around $800.

“I always support the 4-H kids,” Watson said. “It’s a good program.”

But is it hard for the youngsters to raise a steer, tend to its care all year long, then auction the animal off to be slaughtered for beef when the county fair comes around?

“The first time it is,” said 14-year-old Emmalee Casillas. “You get attached, but after you’ve been doing it for a while you understand the purpose of animals and why they’re slaughtered.”

Some kids have a hard time letting their animals go, but understand why they’re raised and what the ultimate results are, said Emmalee’s father, Dan Casillas, Cool Hollow 4-H beef adviser.

Before the kids take on a large farm animal project, Cathy Avera said, adult 4-H volunteers and parents explain that the fair is a “terminal sale” and help the youngsters understand that the animals they raise will be slaughtered.

“They know from day one that they’re not going to take them home from the fair,”Avera said.

Kids must be age 9 before they can take on a large farm animal project, she said.

Daniel Avera plans to buy a new steer next month and begin the process of raising it and readying it for sale.

“I’m looking forward to getting a new steer and auctioning him off at the fair next year,” he said.

Daniel said 4-H has taught him self-discipline, patience and not to get so angry with his steers.

The 13-year-old said he felt bad when Big Mac died, but he didn’t fret over raising the sometimes ornery steer for sale.

“When I first got him, I didn’t like him at all because he butted me around all the time,” he said.

Even though she understands that cattle are raised for beef, Erika Avera said, it was hard giving up her steer.

“I want to raise a steer and a heifer next year so I can take the heifer home,” she said. Heifers are raised by 4-H clubs for breeding purposes.

Other projects involve raising animals such as dogs, cats, pigs and horses, to name a few; and include canning and preserving produce, and gardening, horticulture and marine biology.

“The youngsters can do all kinds of things through 4-H,” Cathy Avera said.

“It’s great for the kids,” said 4-H father Rich McClure. “4-H teaches them responsibility, patience and great work ethics … and charity towards others.”

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