For years, John Scales has opened his barn to students raising animals
For the past 12 years, Santa Fe resident John Scales has graciously opened his barn to Future Farmers of America and 4-H students who are preparing to show their animals. Scales joined FFA when he 14, and three of his four children went through the programs. He understands the importance of FFA and 4-H and has watched children grow and learn from the programs, he said.
He fondly recalls how a barefoot Katie Sefcik began going to his barn with her pigs when she was 7 or 8 years old, and now she’s showing a steer and she’s soon to be a high school senior.
“I’ve watched her grow up, along with many others,” Scales said. “I’ve seen their maturity and growth, and how they’ve become responsible. They show up early in the morning to feed, come back in the afternoon and on weekends to clean stalls, wash and groom their animals and practice showing them. It truly builds character and, more importantly, teaches them life’s lessons.”
Scales also has witnessed the care-giving when animals get sick, he said.
“The kids nurse them back to health, seek advice and watch over them,” he said. “They develop a strong bond.”
And although that bond is strong, letting go in the end is part of the program, because they all realize the animal will be harvested, he said.
The reward can be profitable.
“Depending on how you place, you can get anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 at auction,” Scales said. “If the steer sells at market, it will only fetch about $1,200, but usually the county fair has what they call a commitment price of $2,250. The goal, of course, is to make auction.”
Scales reminds the parents that buying an animal for their child to raise should be looked at as an investment, he said.
“They don’t get it at first, but years later they’ll come to me and say, ‘I understand exactly what you meant,’” he said.