The Keith Family 

Everywhere you walked in the 4-H/ FFA show barns at the Santa Cruz County Fair, held Sept. 17 – 19 at the Sonoita Fairgrounds, you were likely to see one of the four Keith siblings with his or her livestock project. These industrious kids, who live in Elgin, spent this past year working with animals in steer, dairy cow, chicken, turkey, dog, horse, and goat projects. 

Cash Keith preps Harvey for the Junior Livestock Auction. All photos by Marion Vendituoli

15-year-old Cash Keith bought his market steer Harvey at an online auction held in Nebraska. “I picked him for his conformation and size,” Cash said. Harvey, an angus cross steer, weighed 1,540 lbs. by the time of the livestock show, at only 10 months old. The pair earned a blue ribbon in the market steer class, and Cash finished third in market steer showmanship. Cash also won the Beef Herdsmanship Award. Cash, who spent four-plus hours each day working with Harvey over the past several months, reported that the most challenging part of raising Harvey was having to walk his steer after breaking his wrist this spring. “He used to be a real jerk and he got worse when I broke my wrist.” Next year, he plans to show a hog. Cash, who, like his siblings, is homeschooled, is planning to join the Junior ROTC program in Vail, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Green Beret. 

Laura Keith relaxes with her goat, Tex, in the  livestock barn.

12-year-old Laura Keith won the Senior Grand Champion Market Goat award with her Boer goat, Tex. Tex was her first goat, as she had shown a steer last year.

“He’s fun to be around,” she said, describing Tex. “I’ll miss him. I love him so much.”

For many 4-H and FFA kids, the hardest part of the livestock show and sale is auctioning off the animals in the junior livestock sale. Laura also won the title of Grand Champion Horse, with her mare Lena, Reserve Champion Dog with Bonnie, Reserve Champion Dairy Cow Showmanship with her Jersey cow Peaches, finished 4th in Showmanship with her chicken Becky and was reserve champion in the baking division. She won the Herdsmanship Award for both goats and for chickens. Laura would like to be an ag teacher or a large animal veterinarian. 

Faith and Cole Keith show off their chickens in the small stock tent at the Santa Cruz County Fair. 

Faith Keith, who is ten years old, got a blue ribbon in showmanship and a red ribbon in the chicken class with her chicken, Moo. Moo is a five-month-old silkie, with fluffy white feathers.

“I like silkies,” Faith said. “They are the best mothers, very protective of their babies.”

Faith also won Grand Champion Dog and Grand Champion Dog Showmanship with her pet Nala, a blue ribbon for her turkey, Peaches, and grand champion in the baking division. Next year, Faith plans to show a steer. Her goal in life is to be a wrestler. 

Eight-year-old Cole, who is not yet in 4-H, showed his chicken Sasha in the open division. Cole, who was the state champion mutton buster, rides with the Southern Arizona Bull Riding Assoc. and aspires to be a wrestler, like his older sister. 

The Allen Family 

The brother sister duo of Cash and Ivy Allen showed a total of six heifers and steers at the livestock show at the Santa Cruz County Fair. Not surprisingly, five out of six of the animals were Hereford cattle, as the kids’ grandparents, Grace and Michael Wystrach, are owners of Mountain View Herefords in Elgin, known for its purebred bulls and cows. 

Ivy and Cash Allen with their prize winning cattle, Ramona, Bilby and Tank.

11-year-old Cash won Grand Champion Market steer with Bilby, a Maine Simental cross purchased from Iowa. He won Reserve Grand champion Market Steer and Grand Champion Bred n’ Fed with Tank, who was raised on Mountain View Ranch.

“I was kind of in shock,” Cash said after winning both Grand and Reserve in the market steer division. “It’s never been done before.”

He also showed Sweetie Ty, a Hereford heifer, whom he referred to as “the problem child.” 

13-year-old Ivy, who won the Junior Beef Grand Showmanship award, showed heifers.

“I like showmanship a lot,” she said.

Her 18-month-old heifer Ramona was named Grand Champion Breeding Heifer. Ramona’s mom died shortly after giving birth and Ramona was raised as a ‘bottle baby.’

“She’s been my baby ever since,” Ivy said.

Ramona is due to calve in January, and Ivy would like to show the cow calf pair. Ivy also showed two younger heifers, Peaches and Strawberry, whom Ivy referred to as “kind of a brat.”

Ivy does not want to show steers, because she does not want to sell them for butchering.

“I get too attached,” she said.