By Toni W. Riley
It would be hard to find three girls who are more enthusiastic about 4-H shows than the daughters of Brock and Laura Sargeant.
Sofia, 12, Sarah Anne, 10, and Susanna, 7, light up when they talk about livestock competitions and the great deal of work that goes into winning a first-place ribbon.
The three sisters started showing heifers last year after encouragement from their parents.
“Dad kept talking and talking about 4-H, so I decided to give it a try,” Sofia said. “I went to the first meeting and fell in love.”
Brock, who grew up on a farm, was active in 4-H raising and showing rabbits as a kid. He remembers being in Dottie Gray’s club and the talent show, and although he didn’t show cattle, he ran around with a group of friends who did.
Laura, who was also in 4-H, grew up working with her grandfather, the late Charles Garnett, one of the largest farmers in Christian County.
First, the couple’s daughters learned the ropes of feeding, cleaning stalls and teaching the animals to lead. Every day, the girls tended to their animals on the same farm where Brock grew up. Sofia, the main caregiver, helped Brock break in the cattle for her younger sisters to show.
Collectively, they showed steers, heifers, pigs and even lambs this year. The girls laughed, saying they felt like Noah’s Ark when they went to a show because they had two of everything.
The girls used their sense of humor to name their animals. One pig was named Anthony Davis because it had a unibrow like the former University of Kentucky basketball player.
Although raising and showing animals was considerable work, the Sargeant sisters made it enjoyable. Susanna loved laying on the pigs, and even kissing them. Laura noted that Suzanna would gauge how well work went with how muddy she would get.
The sentiment wasn’t the same for the lambs they had this year. The entire family quickly said there will be no lambs in 2015.
“They were stupid,” said Sarah Anne.
However, when Brock sold the lambs at the state fair before the girls had a chance to say goodbye, the flood of tears began. Brock delivered the news at the Cheesecake Factory, where the girls caused such a commotion that the staff brought them extra food to settle
Despite the meltdown, Laura said the 4-H projects brought them closer as a family.
“We had weekend trips, we got to eat together,” she said. “It was family time … The rewards are twice as much as other extra-curricular activities.”
Brock wanted the girls to make friends, learn about the outdoors and animals, especially cattle. More importantly, he wanted them to learn about what could be their future. Brock summed up their show season in a Facebook post, “Well, we had a very good day. We might not have won grand champion steer (or) sheep, but my kids are my champions,” he said. “They started a project and worked hard to finish it. They played with the big boys and won in my heart. We made some fun memories, and I look forward to future ones.”
The girls all had a different part of the project they liked best. Sofia loved the new friends she made; she and one friend even dressed alike at competitions when they could. Susanna liked scratching the pigs belly, so they would wiggle like a puppy.
Sarah Anne looked out of the corner of her eye and quietly said, “I like the money and
The word the girls used over and over again was love. They loved the animals. They loved the friends they made, the shows, the fun, and, while they didn’t love the hard work as much, it’s evident how their love of agriculture brought the entire Sargeant family together.
By Toni W. Riley