CANANDAIGUA, NY — No huge herd? No problem. Zachary and Lindsey Weykman of Clifton Springs, NY showed five cows anyway at the Ontario County Fair, thanks to their 4-H project animals. Zachary, 14 and entering 9th grade and Lindsey, 17 and entering 12th grade, have been showing for four years and said that they enjoy the experience.
Each teen won first in class. One of Zachary’s animals took second to his sister’s in the 4-H fall heifer calf class. Zachary’s Jersey took home Grand Champion in the open show.
“They both did really good and worked hard,” said their mother, Lori Weykman said. “I’m proud of them and they had a good time.”
Lori and her husband, Jason Weykman, grew up dairy farms. Jason is involved in agriculture at Willow Bend Farm, a dairy in Clifton Springs and Lori works as a crop insurance adjuster.
It only makes sense to pass on their rural heritage to their children, even though they don’t possess a large farm. But the family’s four acres provide just enough land to keep five head at home. They also own 12 head of milking cows and heifers housed at Willow Bend.
The teens follow in Lori’s footsteps, who showed 4-H and did Junior Showing Club as a youngster.
“They’re learning,” Weykman said. “We have a small county fair. It’s not all about winning. It’s really about the friendships and hard work. We have a great group of 4-H kids in Ontario County and they work together in the barns. It’s great to see them develop lifelong friendships.”
She and Jason both well know the benefits of learning how to work hard, persist at difficult tasks and delay gratification. They believe that farming teaches many of these important life lessons firsthand.
“It’s a great experience for them,” Weykman said. “We don’t buy high-end cows. They showed two animals [at the Ontario County Fair] they bred and owned. They are out of their very first 4-H calves. They learn so much from making decisions on cows they breed.”
At first, the teens kept two borrowed animals at Willow Bend, at the encouragement of farm operator John Mueller. But by keeping their show animals at their own place, the teens could handle the animals more, which Lori believes has helped them perform better in the show ring.
The family decided not to show at the New York State Fair, which is in Syracuse, an hour’s drive away. Staying away from their jobs and their own farm work for a week or longer is pretty difficult for the Weykmans, so they’re not competing at the state level this year.
When not working with their show animals, the siblings enjoy playing basketball and shooting archery. Zachary participates in his school’s track and cross-country teams. Lindsey has served as 2015 Alternate Ontario County Dairy Princess, 2016 Ontario County Dairy Princess and 2017 Ontario County Fair Queen, just as her mom served as dairy royalty as a teen. Lindsey is looking forward to studying animal science, possibly at her parents’ alma mater, SUNY Cobleskill.