by Lyn Vandebrake
Like a lot of Story County, Iowa farm families, Steve and son Matthew Hougland of Randall spend their summer afternoons walking pigs getting ready for fair time. Matthew, 14, is a 4-H member. His mother, Lynn, is the leader of the Lafayette Leaders 4-H Club.
“I started in 4-H as a fourth grader,” said Matthew who plays basketball, baseball, football and is on the track team for Roland Story High School. Matthew plans to add trap shooting to his athletic agenda this coming year. He holds down a part time job as a grounds keeper-livestock caretaker for a neighboring farm as well as working on his own family farm.
Matthew is showing six pigs at the Story County Fair this week. In the past Matthew has also raised other farm animals, receiving Grand Champion one year for his chicken, Herman.
“I like country life,” said Matthew. “The city just feels too closed in for me. I like being around crops and animals, anything that has to do with farming.” The Houglands grow corn and manage several hog confinements on the family’s second generation farm.
“I’ve been around farming my whole life,” said Matthew. “One of my earliest memories is standing on the loading chute watching pigs go on the truck. I was probably six years old.
“My parents and grand parents have all farmed. I plan to go to Iowa State, graduate, and hope to make my livelihood as an adult doing this very thing, farming, and to live right here in Randall on the family farm.”
Claire and Max Petzenhauser, daughter and son of Carol and Mike of Roland, raise pigs, sheep and goats. Max, 10, will be competing at the Story County Fair for the first time this season.
“I’ve always liked goats,” said Max. “My dad had a really good nanny goat. We used her to nurse lambs if we happened to have a ewe who couldn’t feed her own babies. We were at a goat show one time and I asked my dad if I could have a goat of my own.”
The following winter a doe and two whethers were purchased for Max. They are named Patsy, Doug and Barry. Family owned goats include Caramel, Butterscotch and Ears. Max will be showing Patsy in the Boar Goat division at the Story County Fair.
“I grew up with farm life,” said Claire, who has lived on the family’s acreage 13 of her 14 years. “My grandpa raised sheep for a living with a flock of about 200. It was an interest passed down to my dad, and now to me.
“My dad was in 4-H showing sheep and cows. I got my first lamb when I was so young I don’t even remember exactly when it was.” Claire has ten sheep, both ewes and whethers. She will be showing three at the Fair and three pigs; a Durok, Spot and White Belt.
“They’ve had pets, both wild and tame, their whole life,” says Grandma Sue DeZarn of Dry Ridge, Kentucky, who visits every year at fair time which conveniently falls during the same time frame as grandchild birthdays.
Claire plans on attending college, even though graduation from high school is still four years away. She hasn’t definitely decided where, vacillating between University of Kentucky, her mother’s alma mater and Iowa State, where her father, Mike, graduated with an Ag degree.
Parents Carol and Mike met when they both worked for Iowa Beef Producers in 1993. Their first home was in Bernard, moving to Roland in 2001. Besides Claire and Max, the couple have an older daughter, Paige.
“Before 4-H I was a Clover Kid,” said Claire. “We did crafts, attended 4-H meetings, helped with training sheep, feeding, cleaning stalls, getting ready for show time. I discovered this was a life-time interest.
“Living in the country is a way of life I have always known,” said Claire. “This is how I want to spend the rest of my life; on a farm surrounded by crops and animals.”