Teenagers participating in agricultural programs across Napa County showcased their hard work and even made some money during the Junior Livestock Auction at the Napa Town & Country Fair on Saturday.
Haley Konoval, 17, a senior at American Canyon High School, said she is putting any money she earns from raising livestock away for college. During the auction, Konoval sold her first market goat, “Socrates,” for $21 per pound. At 91 pounds, Socrates yielded $1,911.
“This is just a little extra money that I can put into savings for college,” Konoval said.
Her second goat hadn’t even gone up for auction yet.
Konoval has been participating in American Canyon 4-H, a youth development program, for 8 years. She’s been raising goats for five.
“I started off just doing other things that the club offers,” she said, like baking, sewing and arts and crafts. Eventually she started raising chickens, then goats, and now she also raises ducks.
“I love doing this,” Konoval said. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s not for everyone, but I love it, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”
Konoval, who works two other jobs, said after she graduates, she hopes to attend UC Davis and become a veterinarian.
In the months leading up to auction, she wakes up every day at 5:50 a.m. to feed the goats. Over the past few years, she’s learned how to train, sheer and care for the goats. Although the goats are sold for their meat, she said, they’ve had “the best life they could ever really ask for.”
“We’re raising high-quality meat in a very ethical, environmentally friendly way,” she said. “They’re fed two meals a day, they’re not cooped up, and they get to play with their friends (other goats).”
This year was 15-year-old Joe Brawdy’s first year participating in St. Helena FFA (Future Farmers of America) and, he said, he really didn’t know what to expect.
“I was kind of going in blind,” the St. Helena High School sophomore said. “My parents convinced me to take an ag class and now I have two sheep. It’s weird to think about.”
Those two sheep, he said, made him a little more than $3,000 on Saturday, adding up to about $1,900 in profit. Brawdy took out a $1,375 agricultural loan, which paid for his uniform and part of two animal-related projects, at the beginning of the program.
He’s going to use the money for college, he said, “because it’s never too early to start saving.”
“My parents were quite happy when I told them I didn’t want to spend it on videogames.”
Although he would have never described himself as an “animal person,” Brawdy said he has gotten a lot out of the program.
“It’s just opened up so many doors,” he said. Through the FFA, Brawdy has sharpened his people skills, learned some marketing skills and has even developed an understanding of how the food industry works.
Raising livestock teaches perseverance and time management, said Alex Avina, 16, of Calistoga.
“It’s very educational and really beneficial for college,” he said. Alvina, who has participated in St. Helena FFA for three years, said although he likes it, this may be his last year. Next summer, he said, he wants to start working more and planning for college.
Garrett Singletary, 17, of the Napa 4-Leaf Clovers, said raising livestock through 4-H gives kids something to be responsible for in addition to giving them experience talking to people and learning how to network.
In order to sell an animal for a better price, he said, you need to reach out to people you know and invite them to come to the auction. Then, while at the auction, he said, you “introduce yourself” and “chat it up” with other potential buyers.
Singletary, a senior at Valley Oak High School, was auctioning off two hogs on Saturday – “Magnolia” and “Blue.” On Monday, each one weighed 245 pounds, so he expected them to be 10 to 15 pounds heavier for the auction.
In general, hogs gain one pound for every three pounds you feed them.
“You usually want them (weighing) 260 to 275 pounds,” he said.
Eventually, he said, he hopes to have a farm.