The County fair is over and once again my heart is full. As I type this, I’m dealing with the aftermath of this three-day weekend. This includes a headache from lack of sleep, a rash around my ankles from sweaty socks because of the poor choice of wearing yellow rubber chicken boots for six solid hours, an epic farmer’s tan from standing in the sun, a huge scratch from carrying a turkey that wished to remain in her pen, bloodshot eyes and legs so sore from walking what seemed like miles. This doesn’t also consider daily events like the heartburn from the carnival nachos, the sweet roll I crammed down with dirty hands that more than likely exposed me to salmonella and the bee I almost drank.

And for some reason I still love it. I wore the yellow chicken boots for six hours because a little girl wanted to wear hers too, and the farmer’s tan is the result of standing in the sun waiting for our turn in the auction ring. I take full responsibility for the nachos and sweet roll.

There isn’t a lot of glory in Small Stock. The payouts aren’t grand. We don’t have groups of old ladies advocating for the future of chickens and selling bumper stickers saying “Turkey, it’s what for dinner” but our experience is still the same.

Right now, like me, there are 15 kids that are tired with bloodshot eyes. Some have blisters from boots, stomach aches from way too much sugar, scratches on their arms and faces and broken hearts from not winning.

As I reflect on this past weekend, I am reminded of the little girl who won Best of Show with her bantam rooster. I caught a glimpse of her face after the competition. She was smiling through scratches all over her face. The little rooster, unimpressed by his win, took it out on her and still she smiled. I call these kids “My Chicken Kids” – a term of endearment. They are my Small Stock kids.

I think they have the most heart, drive and determination. To keep these feathered creatures alive is a job and to love them enough to cry when they go is worthy of our respect and admiration. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend but to be surrounded by these young people with big hearts and happy faces. Once again, my cup runneth over.