When Jerry was crowned Grand Champion market goat in this year’s Halifax County Livestock Show, it was no surprise to his “parents,” SVMGA members Fred and Beth Blackburn. They knew Jerry was destined for fame from the beginning.
The Blackburns, accompanied by two of Fred’s grandchildren, filmed Jerry’s birth in April 2011. Jerry’s mother, Bumper, was born at Strange Farms and found abandoned in the field. SVMGA icon Ned Strange gave the goat to the Blackburns, who bottle fed the orphan until she matured and eventually became the herd leader.
Jerry’s father, Stewie, was born at Soleil Farm and ultimately found his way to the Blackburns where he sired the champion buck.
Jerry was large and healthy from the start, and the Blackburns had many profitable options for his future. But they chose a path based on principle, not profit.
“We donated Jerry to FFA [Future Farmers of America] because we believe very strongly in contributing to the interest of future farmers,” said Beth Blackburn. “Many of these kids don’t have the money to buy these animals. If not for this early experience, they may not develop a lifelong interest.”
The Blackburns were a little tentative about losing one of their beloved goats, but once they were put into contact with FFA member Sabrina Covington, their trepidation dissolved. Covington nurtured Jerry to become a handsome, 130-pound champion.
“From what I heard, he could be seen by anyone driving by their home because he was out in the yard roaming and eating any browse that came along,” said Beth.
Many animals are sold to FFA members so they can be raised and entered in the livestock show. But the Blackburns feel that farmers have an obligation to support the organization without using it as a profit center.
“This shouldn’t be an avenue to make money,” Beth said. “There is a time to profit, however this is not it. As we see it, giving to FFA is a responsibility of current farmers to keep farming alive and active for future generations to enjoy.”
Beth said the experience was very rewarding for her and Fred. They were reluctant to receive any publicity, but felt it was important to encourage support of the FFA.
SVMGA is proud of everyone, especially the Blackburns, for their support of the FFA and their contributions to the raising of quality goats like Jerry.