Seven cows are expected to give birth at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.
Helping to bring their calves into the world will be Branden Connelly, 12, of Clarksburg.
Along with showing cows in the teen 4-H and open dairy contests at the fair, Branden is volunteering to assist with the labor of cows that are expected to give birth as part of the fair’s annual birthing center.
The fair began Friday and runs through Saturday. The center, operated for the past five years by Branden’s father, Bruce Connelly, allows attendees to view a live birth.
"I run and get supplies, and I help my dad sometimes pulling [the calf out],” Branden said.
Each year, Branden’s father breeds cows from Trouble Enough Indeed Farm, the family’s Clarksburg farm, to give birth during fair week to educate the public about farm animals.
"Most people have never seen a calf being born,” Connelly said. “To see it in real life is a different story. You really realize what it takes for a farmer to have all these animals.”
Last year, five cows gave birth at the center, but Connelly said he decided to bring more cows because of the popularity of the fair event.
"It's an experience,” he said. "People really try to get there and try to see it .... I could have 500 to 1,000 people coming in to watch."
The birthing center team, which includes two on-call veterinarians, hopes to have a birth each day during fair week. In between helping at the center, Branden will be showing four family cows in several dairy contests, including his favorite, Mystery, a 1-year-old brown and white Shorthorn.
“She's the tamest and the sweetest,” Branden said of the cow. "When I come up to her, she rubs her nose on me and stuff."
Branden, a student at Rocky Hill Middle School, has been showing cows at the fair since he was 5, winning several ribbons in past years. He started showing after seeing some of his friends and his sisters participating in 4-H dairy competitions.
"So ever since I was little, ever since I was born I've been around it,” he said. “It's fun to get to raise [the cows] since they were little and to get that learning experience.”
Branden isn’t the only one who will be busy at the fair this week. Damascus High School sophomore Hannah Adkins will be showing eight of her dairy goats in the fair’s teen division of 4-H and open dairy goat contests.
The 15-year-old has been a member of 4-H since she was 8, and has been showing dairy goats for six years. She has won more than 80 ribbons at the fair in past years for various entries, including flower arranging. She also is president of Montgomery County 4-H Dairy Goat Club.
"[The fair] has been a good opportunity for me to just learn how to work with animals and see how other people work with animals so that I can learn from them,” she said. "I know that I am an older 4-H member and people will learn from the things I do."
As of Monday she had won 12 special awards, many of which were for flower arranging.
Although Hannah said she likes all of her animals, she said she’s most curious to see how Skinny Cow, one of her newest goats, will do at the fair.
"I just think she's a beautiful kid,” she said. "Out of all the goats that have been born on our farm she's very correct [in body]."
Hannah said the animals are judged on general appearance, dairy character and body capacity.
Skinny Cow was born with an April litter of goats that Hannah named after some of her favorite treats.
"This year the theme [for naming kids] was ice cream,” she said.
Klondike, Ben, Jerry, Rocky and Road now have joined the 24 goats that live on her family farm.
"Goats have a lot of personality and they are really smart animals to work with, and that makes it challenging but it still makes it fun," Hannah said.