Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lessons From The Western Idaho Fair

In August, my sainted mother and I took the kids to the state fair, braving the heat and the manure and the carnies and the hot-tub salesmen, all for a few hours of wholesome, barnyard fun. My favorite parts, other than watching Jimmy squeal and flap in front of the quail chick incubator for twenty whole minutes, were the educational 4-H poster projects lining the walls of the small animal barn. I don't know what it is about a nice poster/diorama/chart, but it really speaks to the eager young schoolgirl who lives in my soul. (Fun Fact: I was once, along with my beloved childhood horse, Sugarfoot, a 4-H-er for about ten glorious minutes before I figured out that I was required to wear a cowboy hat and neckerchief and ill-fitting jeans while dragging Sugarfoot around an arena to be judged. Judged!)

So, without further ado, here are the most important lessons I learned from the small animal barn posters at the Western Idaho State Fair.

The Poultry Day Spa
Lesson One:
Washing a chicken goes like this:
1. Dip your chicken in warm water.
2. Dip your chicken in soapy water.
3. Dip your chicken in warm water again.
This procedure is shockingly similar to the correct protocol for breading chicken (dip in egg, dip in flour, dip in breading) and it is strangely reassuring to know that a pretty chicken AND/OR a delicious chicken is only ever three easy steps away.

Lesson Two:
Cavy (which is apparently 4-H code for "guinea pig") are frequently plagued by fairly disgusting, pirate-y diseases (Scurvy? Lice? Overgrown teeth? Pea Eye?), which leads me to believe that cavy are the Pirates of the Small Animal Barn, or perhaps pirates are the Cavy of The Sea. Just something to consider before you welcome any cavy (or pirates) into your home.

Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome
Lesson Three:
There is something called Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) which sounds awfully cute and whimsical and Beatrix Potter-y, but is actually not cute at all, people. It should have its own celebrity telethon, preferably hosted by Dave Coulier or an adequate Coulier surrogate.

How DOES your kitty feel today?
Lesson Four:
If you're wondering how your kitty is feeling today, you might want to refer to this flow chart. At any moment of the day, your cat could be Fearful, Calm, Mildly Anxious, Increasingly Anxious, or Transitioning. I found it odd that our cats' most frequent feelings, Ennui and Lardassery, were omitted.

How to give your hedgehog a bath.
Lesson Five:
Not surprisingly, washing a hedgehog is slightly trickier than washing (or breading) a chicken, and I can only imagine that WHS complicates the matter further. Get Coulier on the horn, stat!

Parts of a Cavy
Lesson Six:
OK, I actually didn't learn much from this poster, but must applaud the lackadaisical minimalism on display here. Do you remember when you had a project due in sixth grade, and you forgot about the project until 8:30 P.M. the night before it was due, and you had none of the actual necessary supplies for the project in the house, and your mother had to drive you to the drugstore to purchase whatever sad, barely adequate supplies were available all while suppressing her urge to wring your procrastinating little neck? This is that project, and I love it. Plus: "Participant" ribbon!

Um, thanks, hogs.
And, finally, Lesson Seven:
Pig: it is in everything, everywhere. Right this minute, you are likely wearing, eating, inhaling, using, or sleeping with a pig. Oink, oink and sweet dreams.

28 comments: said...

Can I go home now? It's 9:20AM here and I've already learned-ed-ed enough today. Thanks for the lesson!

chris said...

I've learned quite a bit from this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I relate to the child who completed the "Parts of a Cavy" project. I did one of those projects in the 8th grade - "How to kill Mr. Bill" ???? (from SNL). My parents were humiliated by my Play-doh and blocks creation at the science fair. All the other genius kids built nuclear power plants (with the help of their engineer fathers).

Great post!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I know exacty what you're talking about with school supplies--I've always kept everything that might possibly be needed for posters, diorama or anything of that ilk on hand.

I hated being all enthusiastic and then having to wait.

a Tonggu Momma said...

We learned quite a few lessons about animals at our local state fair, but we didn't have hedgehogs. Absolutely no hedgehogs at the Maryland State Fair. I know, I know. I'm thinking we might need to move to western Idaho now.

MamaBird said...

All I have to say? Pig parts are now haunting me. And I am just a Wilbur lover, not a vegan.

i am very mary said...

On occasion, I suffer from WMS (Wobbly Mom Syndrome).

lori said...

Things I learned from this post:
1. I'm now hungry for chicken
2. Preferably a chicken who has spent time at a spa (relaxed chicken=tender juicy chicken?)
3. My childhood unease with Guinea Pigs, pardon me Cavy, has reemerged somewhat.
4. I wish I had a hedgehog and if I had one I would be very careful re: WHS thanks to your alerting us to the dangers.
5. I should NOT read BeanPaste at my desk at work as it is NOT possible to hide that much laughing.

Lisa Milton said...

My kids would read those posters, decide it would could never happen to us and beg for said creatures.

The wobbly, the pea-eyed, one and all.

Glad Jimmy enjoyed the chicks. I'm sure it won't be the last time.

the cheap chick said...

I am now SO GLAD that my Mom never bought me a Guinea Pig/cavy/pirate/regular pig when I was a kid. Although, wobbliness and all, I still kind of want a hedgehog.

And is it me, or are many of the small animal barn posters in some way or another related to pigs or hogs?

Tammy said...

Yet another reason why Guinea Pigs/Cavys are not allowed in my house. Because, Pea eye? Eeewww!

Loved the Chicken Spa poster...lots of moxie going on there.

dharmamama said...

There is NOT pig in glass! wtf? (google, google) Nope. No pig. Propaganda!

I love that you made the connection between washing a chicken and breading it; that didn't occur to me, and made me laugh! Thanks.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I think I love you.

Can I say that without seeming like a stalker?

The I-forgot-about-this-until-last-night poster was CLASSIC!

Mrs. G. said...

Sure, this post was all warm and cavy and cuddley, but I felt that Coulier smack right between my eyes.

Stu said...

Washing a chicken? All we ever did was chop their heads off and eat them. I think my Dad would shoot his drink out his nose if I asked to wash our chickens.


J. said...

That is no pig, madam. That is my husband.

Nora Bee said...

First of all, they forgot scrapple on the last one.

Second, thanks for the CAVY TUMOR PHOTO, yo. Pleasant dreams to you also.

Irene said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this and can sympathize with the kid with the minimalist project. That would have been me.

I am a vegetarian and now totally concerned about what object I am using that may contain some part of a pig.

Anonymous said...

plastics, caryons, cement? Excuse me whilst I go burn down my house.
I may never forgive you for bring this to my attention.

Although, if you were to make me a psaty pal...I could reconsider.

The Boddeker Blog said...

My little brother used to walk his guinea pig(s) around the neighborhood on a leash. Then it died, then the next one died, Max III died as well. Perhaps a pirate can't be tied to a leash!

Anonymous said...

I love the washing chicken/breading chicken correlation. Who knew?

Michele said...

I laughed till I cried but stopped short of wetting my pants. Good thing too because I'm at a hoity toity conference.

Moxy Jane said...

Wow!! This was so enlightening. And all the more so because it took me back to my 4-H days in rural Minnesota. I actually WENT TO STATE with the Golden Gleaners - we did a kick ass drama skit, thank you very much.

I wasn't much into agriculture, though, so I still have a lot to learn...although, quite a bit less after reading this.

I once told my mom I had to make the human digestive track out of salt dough at 8:30 p.m. We pulled it off.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Homer Simpson: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

Lisa Simpson: No.

Homer Simpson: Ham?

Lisa Simpson: No.

Homer Simpson: Pork chops?

Lisa Simpson: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!

Homer Simpson: [Chuckles.] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

the sits girls said...

Those are GREAT posters! Now we know how to cook, oops, we mean CLEAN, a chicken. hehe

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I am going to have nightmares about how much "pig" is in my everyday, dawn to dusk, life.

Thanks for that.

(I do, however, also appreciate the "Participant" half-assed poster; way to work the Mediocre sector of life).

g said...

Very .....illuminating! What IS Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome? I think I might have it.

Stacy (mama-om) said...

Classic Paste! I loved it. Thanks for taking me to the fair.

Lauren Hooker said...

I'm glad the Poultry Day Spa helped :]
It took me three hours to complete the bloody thing haha.

It's nice to see that our hard work is appreciated. Thanks!