The Byerly family has taken Bloomfield’s slogan to heart. After having more than 100 projects and animals at the Knox County Fair, they live in the right community — Bloomfield, “The Busy City.”
“This is a family affair,” Glenda Byerly said about their 4-H and FFA efforts. “Busy people are happy people, and we live in the busy city.”
At last month’s Knox County Fair, the Byerly family had dozens of project and more than 70 animals — 35 chickens, 19 ducks, six geese, six pigs, three goats, two horses and one cat.
Blake Byerly, Kaitlyn Byerly and Avery Gill are all in 4-H while Cohen Gill is a Clover Kid.
Blake, who is the oldest, has been in 4-H for six years and has actually stepped away from all animal events other than ducks and concentrates on the shooting sports, which is his favorite part. The rest of his time is spent helping the other kids with their projects and animals.
“I enjoy watching them succeed,” Blake said. “They teach you needed life skills, like how to take care of an animal.”
Kaitlyn Byerly, was the champion in companion goats, said goats are her favorite part of the 4-H. She started as a Clover Kid with cats and rabbits and then expanded to other animals. Kaitlyn said she’s creative with feeding them and often utilizes food from Bloomfield’s Country Market.
“We would go the grocery store and get all of the leftover vegetables that they couldn’t sell anymore. I cut the apples, pears and tomatoes up and mix it up with a bag of lettuce and distribute it to all of the animals,” she said.
But the fair brought its share of challenges for Kaitlyn, including a power outage the night before her decorated cakes were due.
“The hardest part of the fair for her was decorating the cake when the power went out,” Glenda Byerly said. “So she had to decorate the cake by lantern.”
Both Avery and Cohen Gill also are involved in 4-H. Avery said she loves chickens, especially the one named Black Widow, while Cohen’s favorite goat is Spice, even though he shared Senor Carrots this year as a Clover Kid. Cohen said a trick to loading goats onto the trailer is giving them peppermint or marshmallows as a treat.
Glenda, who was also in 4-H as a youth, said the kids learn lots of life lessons through both 4-H and FFA. Another 4-Her in their club was sick during the fair, so the family washed 16 of their pigs.
They also created a “makeshift petting zoo” during the fair when a carload of people from the Plainview Manor stopped at the fairgrounds.
“They couldn’t get out of the car, so we brought the petting zoo to them. It’s those kinds of things that mean the most to me,” she said. “Watching these kids pull animals out of the cages and sharing them with people as they go through the barns means so much to people.”