Animals are a lot more work, young ladies say

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., The Premont Journal

Morgan Gwosdz spent many hours stroking Dixie's neck in an attempt to calm her down. Heifers, like people, come in a variety of temperaments. Dixie's could be described as spirited.

Morgan's skills normally involves projects of the swine persuasion, where she's done pretty well for herself the last five years in competition at the JWC fair.

This year, the Orange Grove FFA member was looking for even more of a challenge. Morgan branched out to heifers, and the experience wasn't easy.

"They're both a lot of work," her father, Martin Gwosdz said. "But she wanted to do something different, try something new for a change."

Dixie was selected from the family's own cattle, and despite her rambunctiousness at times, Gwosdz said she really hasn't been a problem.

"I have to calm her down pretty often," Morgan said, as she stroked Dixie beneath her chin before the heifer show on Friday. "Heifers are harder than swine. You have to work with them a lot more, to make them tame enough to breed."

At nine months old, Dixie is also considerably larger than the pigs with which Morgan is used to dealing. Dixie tips the scales at nearly 800 pounds. She's a big girl.

"I was a little afraid at first. She kicked me once, but I got better with her, and she finally calmed down," Morgan said. "I don't really know how I'm going to do, I'm just showing her for fun."

Of the opposite temperament is Shasta.

Shasta never showed her face before competition. She was content just to lay in the sand of her pen, staring at the wall and trying to take up as little space as possible. Shasta isn't lazy, Brianna Saenz said, she's just very tame.

"She's been like that from the beginning," Saenz said.

Shasta is a girl with papers, a registered Santa Gertrudis who enjoys eating large portions of food, taking long walks with Brianna and being an overall sweet animal. Saenz said Shasta has always been a very sweet and kind animal.

Over the last few months, Saenz religiously fed her heifer, once in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Shasta seems to really like being petted and often walks around her home in Premont. Brianna said she's easy to lead.

"She's going to be tall," Brianna said, brushing Shasta's coat. "You could tell at a young age."

Her height was something Brianna hopes will distinguish Shasta from the group. Heifer competitions at the Jim Wells County Fair are generally small. Shasta was in a class with two other heifers. Unlike some competitions, where there are 10 or 15 in a group, Brianna was competing for a first, second or third place ribbon.

Brianna was focused on the win, but what ever happens, she said she would come back with Shasta again next year. Win or no win.

The Jim Wells County Fair concludes today.