By Joshua Schuetz
The two brothers, who live with their parents, Trelin and Kristie, on an acreage in rural Alpha, received cattle this year through the New Vision Co-op Feeder Calf Program. It’s Teagen Swenson’s second time in the program; last year, he showed his feeder calf at the Jackson County Fair and won a showmanship and rate-of-gain award. Talic Swenson is eager to follow in his footsteps and will show for the first time this year.
“We got involved with it because we wanted to see what raising cattle was like, especially since Dad used to raise dairy cattle when he was growing up,” Teagen Swenson said.
Teagen Swenson named last year’s calf “Rocket,” and spent the summer working with him.
“We got him at around 300 pounds in April, and we have to pay for both the calf and the feed, but you get to sell them at the end if you want,” Teagen Swenson said. “I enjoyed it a lot, because it was fun to work and play with him.”
Sometimes “Rocket” could be challenging to work with, especially when he was getting used to being walked or harnessed. Trelin Swenson started walking him at first, then Teagen switched in. By the time he was ready to sell, “Rocket” weighed 775 pounds.
Talic Swenson will compete as a 4-H Cloverbud at this year’s county fair. He’s looking forward to getting to work with a calf of his own, especially after watching his brother walk, play with and show “Rocket.”
Most of all, he’s hoping the two calves get along this year.
“I hope they like each other and play together, because when Teagen had ‘Rocket’ it looked like they had a lot of fun, and I hoped that if I had a calf of my own, they’d be able to play together,” Talic Swenson said.
Trelin Swenson, like his sons, was part of 4-H as a kid and he took part in a feeder calf program, just like they’re doing this year. Between that and his dairy experience, he has more than enough knowledge to help his sons learn how to handle their calves, make sure they’re healthy and get ready for showtime.
He said the program’s accessibility and limited timespan make it a good fit for their family and others who are participating.
“We had the program when I was in 4-H here in Jackson County, so even though we raised dairy, I went through the program because you could sell the calf back at the end,” Trelin Swenson said. “I liked it because it you didn’t have to keep it forever if you weren’t able to, so it’s definitely easier for some families.”
With summer on the horizon, Teagen and Talic Swenson are looking forward to showing their calves at the fair. For Teagen Swenson, the second verse may well be better — or at least easier — than the first, as he’s had the chance to work his nerves out and knows what showing will be like.
“I was nervous the first time around, but now I don’t feel nervous at all, because I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again,” he said.
Talic Swenson, while a bit nervous about making his debut in the project this summer, knows his parents and brother will be behind him all the way, just like when Teagen Swenson was first showing.
“It makes me a little nervous,” he said, “but as a Cloverbud, I know I’ll have a parent with me in the ring at first, so I’m ready.”