Jay couple take on barn chores at fair

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FARMINGTON — Richard Jackson of Jay cleans the sawdust from the aisle of a barn down to the hard-packed dirt at the Farmington Fair on Wednesday.

He also cleaned out the stalls of cows for the Johnson and York families.

The Sandy River Farm had cows and a steer on exhibit at the fair.

Pots of colorful mums set outside of the stalls kept the area looking bright and inviting.

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“I help them each year,” Jackson, 67, a former superintendent of Jay water districts, said. “My wife and I clean the barn for them. I try to keep it neat so people can walk through.”

Jackson’s wife, Jeanne, sat nearby.

“Richard is a good herdsman,” Erika Johnson, 22, of Farmington said.

He helps the family out at the Farmington and Fryeburg fairs.

Johnson stepped into the barn and immediately cleaned up a fresh dropping from Sebastian, a steer. She is the daughter of Trudy and Erik Johnson, who own some of the animals, and the granddaughter of Bussie and Brenda York of the Sandy River Farm, all of  Farmington.

She splits her times between chores at the family farm business and being a cosmetologist at a Farmington salon.

Combined, the two families’ herd is about 210 with the majority of them milking cows. They are milking about 75 cows, she said.  

The animals each had papers with their names written on them posted above the stalls. They are named by using the first letter of the mother’s name. Among them were Rhonda, RaeRay, Ivory and Arianna. 

By using the naming process, it identifies what bloodlines they came from, Johnson said.

After a while, family members end up going through baby books to find names they haven’t used.

The herd lives all one location, but is divided by ages into different barns.

For this fair, the family stays at the fairgrounds in a motor home outside the barn.

They get to sleep a little later than usual here with a starting time of 5:30 a.m. to clean the stalls, put down fresh hay and bedding, and give grain to the cows. The cows have automated water bowls to drink from.

Then it is time to get the animals to the wash rack to clean them. 

Johnson said she is glad when people coming through the exhibit know the animals are cows.

“I’m just glad they know they are cows. A lot of people who come through think they are looking at horses,” Johnson said.

dperry@sunmediagroup.net

Richard Jackson, 67, of Jay keeps the barn floor and cow stalls clean at the Farmington Fair on Wednesday. 

Erika Johnson, 22, of Farmington pets Arianna, one of her family’s milking shorthorns, Wednesday at the Farmington Fair. 

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