It's all about hard work and dedication. One family prepares to show animals at the fair
KENNA — Instead of walking dogs, 16-year-old Autumn Hartley walks steers and hogs every morning.
By 8 a.m., Autumn is out of bed and driving to the barn in Kenna to tend to her show animals for this year's Jackson County Junior Fair. Her family has 120 "mama cows" at the barn, but Autumn's steer — Bud — and hog — Puddle — will be shown at the fair.
She sees the 1,400-pound steer and 245-pound hog twice a day, every day. Bud is the third and largest steer she has shown.
"He's a big boy," Autumn said.
Autumn said she loves being around animals and learning their personalities. Bud is lazy and sweet and Puddle is feisty. Sometimes, when Autumn is walking Puddle she will take off — she keeps Autumn on her toes.
She's been showing animals in the fair since she was 9 years old. They started off with hogs and heifers, and one day their mom, Harmony Hartley, came home with a steer and her daughters went with it.
"They're naturals when it comes to showing," Harmony said. "They have gone above and beyond what we expected them to do."
It runs in the family
Her older sister, Emma-Rae Hartley has won Grand Champion Steer at the livestock sale five times. She's taking the year off from showing animals in the fair, but that hasn't stopped her from heading to the barn.
She's by Autumn's side every day helping her prepare for the fair. When Autumn walks Bud, Emma-Rae helps her properly position him as if he was being shown in the barn. Autumn said she appreciates her sister's guidance.
"She helps me make it all really put together," Autumn said.
Autumn has won reserve and showmanship awards for her hogs and a heifer in the past. She's had Bud and Puddle for about a year, and she said she's ready for all of Jackson County to see her hard work and dedication.
Emma-Rae said she's excited to support her sister at the fair. It'll be a family affair — grandparents and cousins will fill up the bleachers to cheer Autumn on.
"It's really good family time," Autumn said. "They know how hard I've been working on this."
— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.