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Rhody Radio episode transcription has been been made possible by the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, which is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


BONUS: Hearing from 4-H Members at the Washington County Fair



Dave: You are listening to a Rhody Radio Bonus episode. Hi, everyone, it's Dave. While I was at the Washington County Fair with Carla Panciera, I also had the opportunity to talk to multiple generations of 4-H members showing cows for their 1st, 7th and 65th year. I hope you enjoy these conversations, and how they exemplify the way farm culture is being kept alive in Rhode Island. If you haven't already, be sure to listen to the full episode from Tuesday, September 26th, or behind the scenes look at the livestock area at the fair, and to hear more about Carla's recently published memoir, Barnflower.


Carla Panciera: I can introduce you to some people. Would you want to hear from other people?

Dave: Yes, that would be wonderful if they're willing to.

Carla: I can introduce you to the woman who's my 4-H leader. She did 4-H in Rhode Island for 42 years.

Dave: All right.

Carla: Coming for an interview.

Pam Jeffrey: Pam.

Dave: Hi, Pam.

Carla: This is Dave Bardos.

Dave: Very nice to meet you.

Carla: This is Pam Jeffrey.

Pam: Jeffrey, yes.

Carla: She was a 4-H leader in Rhode Island for 42 years.

Dave: Fantastic.

Carla: My 4-H leader, and Dave's doing a podcast about my book, but he's also getting some stuff about the fair, and about fair life, and what it's like to show cows, and be farm families.

Dave: It's great. What has kept you in it? What about coming to the fair and showing cows has kept you at it for so long?

Pam: I think it's passion. It's a passion that you have, and you never really lose the feeling of togetherness, and the feeling of friendship, and looking forward to seeing other exhibitors every year. I remember Carla when she was a little, tiny tyke, and I remember her dad very well. He was always helpful and supportive to my 4-H Club when we wanted to go down and do judging, or make arrangements to go down to the breeding facility where the Ivanhoe bull [00:02:00] had been, and he helped us out a lot. Her mom made great food for our meetings. [laughs]

Dave: Wonderful.

Pam: It's just, you grow up with it, and you just can't imagine life without the animals. This particular fair is one where we get together with all our friends and families. To see Carla come back to the fair is just such a reward, and to see the delight and joy on her face as she looks around and sees the different people that she grew up with, and people would walk up to her and say, "You are Panciera, right?" I heard that yesterday. We all remember each other. I've been showing cattle now for over 65 years. It started when I was very young, and I just love it. It's something that I live for.

Dave: Yes. Wonderful. She sat down.

Carla: She's laying down. [laughs]

Pam: She's going in the ring shortly.

Dave: Got to keep her up.

Pam: She got a little bit tired there.

Carla: Do you want pet a cow?

Pam: Oh, yes.

Dave: Do I want to pet a cow?

Pam: Yes, you do.

Dave: Of course, I do.

Pam: Yes, you do.

Dave: Oh, my goodness.

Pam: Anyone you want. That one was Grand Champion Holsetin today.

Dave: Wow.

Carla: She's a three-year-old, right?

Pam: Yes.

Carla: Junior two?

Pam: Yes. Junior two. She's calved, and this is her mother, and she's due to have her third calf, and she's a four-year-old.

Dave: Wow.

Pam: We've been calving them nice and early, but this is Petunia.

Dave: Petunia. It's really nice to meet you, Petunia. I'm petting a cow right now.

Pam: Can you believe it? They're all clean. They all had bubble baths last night, and they're clipped.

Dave: I have no problems at all. Yes, absolutely.

Pam: They're extremely intelligent. You can work with them and teach them to do a lot. My son's in the ring right now as we're talking with our two-year-old Ayrshire. This is [00:04:00] a Holstein. Black and white's a Holstein. There are red and white Holsteins as well.

Carla: She's a two-year-old, and will have their first calves when they're two, so she's just had her first calf.

Dave: Wow.

Carla: Now, every year from this point forward, ideally, she will have another calf.

Dave: She'll have another cow.

Pam: They're just like women. If you give birth, you lactate. If you don't give birth, you'll dry off and won't lactate. With the cow, we try to have them cows just about on a yearly cycle, if you can do it. Once in a while, it'll go over by a month or two, or if they had difficulty with the birth, it might take another couple extra months, but normally, they'll calve back. This one's a perfect example. She's in a four-year-old class. She's carrying her third calf. She calved it just under two years old, so she's right on target with what she should be doing. She, by the way, milked over, and we'll milk over a hundred pounds of milk a day.

Dave: A hundred pounds a day?

Pam: A day.

Dave: Wow.

Pam: Now, if you think about this, when you go to the grocery store and you get a gallon of milk, that's 8.2 pounds. Farmers right now are getting someplace around $17 for a hundred pounds. Who's making the money on the milk?

Dave: That math doesn't add up.

Pam: No, it doesn't. At 8.2 pounds when you think about it. There has never been a standardization on milk prices. It's just never been done. One month you could be making $9 for a hundred pounds, and six months later, you could get $18 a hundred pounds. When you get that $18, you have to pay all those bills that you let mount up when it was at $9, which is why the dairy industry is having such a hard time.

The small farms like what Carla grew up, on and I grew up on, and what we have now are slowly but surely being pushed out of business because we don't have a [00:06:00] standard milk price, and the people who have 5,000 cow dairies who don't name their cows, I could give you the name of every one of these girls, and love them, and play with them, and pet them, and watch them, and take care of them, and have baths for them and all that.

On those big, huge, commercial dairies, they don't have all that. They're hardly touched at all. They're milked, and I just put a cow down at 20 years old, the average life on a commercial dairy farm, and this is a fact. This is three and a half years.

Dave: Three and a half years, and she's four as you said?

Pam: Yes. That's because she gets taken care of. Confirmation-wise, her legs are great, she'll produce and keep going and going. Traits that we look for. We would be sick if we lost cows at three and a half years.

Dave: Absolutely.

Pam: There's no reason for it. I went to a dairy in Florida, and they had three, 5,000 cow herds in the state of Florida.

Dave: Geez.

Pam: I said, "Boy, you must have a heck of a vet bill." He said, "A vet hasn't been on this property in 18 years." If they couldn't get a cow bred back, if the cow had mastitis, if there was a problem with it, they'd just call the butcher.

Dave: Geez. That's sad.

Pam: We don't do that. We treat everything, we take good care of them. We don't use BST, we don't do anything. Actually, BST is something that's naturally in a cow, but they don't tell you that. We don't do any additional drugs or anything like that. We'll try holistic as much as we can, but if we need to use an antibiotic, we don't hesitate. We just don't ship that milk. We throw it out.

Carla: Thank you, Pam.

Dave: Yes, thank you so much.

Pam: Very welcome's.

Dave: Lovely to talk to you. I really appreciate meeting you. Thank you.

Pam: Well, come back anytime.

Dave: I definitely will.

Pam: We'll tell you more than what you want to know about.

Dave: I have to come back with something to justify this to my bosses. [00:08:00] I still can't believe they let me go to the fair on work time. [laughs]

Pam: You justify it because it does for the kids that take our responsibility, the team effort, all the different things that these children learn.

Dave: Absolutely.

Pam: It's like this is what's wrong with this world right now. We don't take enough time to love each other, and nurture each other, and support each other. That's exactly what these animals do.

Dave: That's what's happening here.

Pam: Yes.

Dave: Wonderful. Thank you so much.

Pam: You're very welcome. Come again anytime. We'd love to have you.

Dave: Absolutely. Thank you.

Carla: I'm going to introduce you to someone who's won everything.

Dave: All right.

Carla: Kylie, this is Dave Bardos, and he's doing a podcast for Rhode Island Library.

Dave: Yes. We're a statewide library podcast called Rhody Radio. I'm here to talk to Carla about her book, and about being at the fair.

Carla: I have to introduce you to the superstar who's won just about everything, and she's a young person, and this is what we want in the world. We want somebody this young to take the mantle and run with it, and she certainly has.

Dave: Wonderful. How long have you been doing this?

Kylie: I've been doing this for probably about seven years now. This fair experience this year has actually been a lot of fun. Yesterday, got Supreme Showman, and then today, it's been really a good day so far.

Dave: Very cool. Tell me about your cow here.

Kylie: This is Hui. She's my junior, two-year-old Ayrshire cow, and we're just about to go in the ring.

Dave: Excellent. Good luck.

Kylie: Thank you.

Dave: You say good luck. I know I'm from the theater, so you don't say good luck. Is that an appropriate thing to say?

Kylie: Yes.

Dave: Okay, wonderful. Thank you so much.

Carla: You guys are relatively new to Shelly. Am I right about that? Kylie has actually helped teach them some of her tricks, because they both did well yesterday too. I don't know you, but the boys did really well yesterday. I don't know if you want to maybe tell us a little bit why you started, why you guys got into this.

Dave: Yes.

Tucker: I'm Tucker, and I started because Kylie was my best friend since 6th grade, and she was like, [00:10:00] "You want to come to the farm?" I was like, "Sure." I started walking the cow, and then milking the cow. She's a great teacher, so I was getting pretty good at it. I started to like it more. I was just like, "Let's try it. "They let me show a couple of times, and here I am, and I really love it.

Kim: That's really cool.

Tucker: Yes.

Kim: You just end up doing the things that your friends like, whatever it is, and in your case with Kylie.

Tucker: She's very influential, so she can persuade you to do just about anything. It's good when you have good people around you to help you.

Kim: Absolutely. Wonderful. Thank you very much.

Tucker: You're welcome.

Kim: Tell me your name.

Gibson: Gibson.

Kim: Gibson, awesome. Nice to meet you, Gibson. Do you have anything you want to add to that?

Gibson: Well, I started showing this year. This is my first year showing here.

Kim: Very cool.

Gibson: Pretty much it got started with ice cream.

Kim: Okay, tell me more about that.

Gibson: My mother over there, she owns a concession business, and she has ice cream.

Kim: Fantastic.

Gibson: Pretty much, they came to get ice cream one day, and Erin, she's the owner, she got ice cream for Kylie. Then she brought ice cream to Kylie, and so she was double-fisted with ice cream, and there's like a hundred pictures of it. Double-fisted with ice cream. It started at North Stone Fair. I don't remember, one night it was Kylie's birthday, so we went up there, and we brought her a present, and it was this blanket that had Ayrshire prints on them.

Kim: Oh, cool.

Gibson: We were there, and I said I wanted to milk, so I started milking there. Pretty much, Erin called my mother and was like, "I need to talk to you." She was in the middle of school day, and she's like, "Well, you got this opportunity to show cows." I'm like, "Okay." I took it, and pretty much, yes, that's how it started.

Kim: That's really cool.

Carla: He also won his class yesterday, right?

Kim: Awesome. Congratulations. First year. [00:12:00] Let me ask you, because I have no knowledge of showing a cow. I want to know, what is the most challenging part? What's the hardest that you've had to work the hardest on?

Gibson: Just concentrating. Everything's pretty much hard about it. You got to wash every day. When you're at a show, you got to clip, you got to do top line, you got to do head, you got to do all this stuff. It's pretty hard.

Kim: A lot of work.

Gibson: Yes.

Kim: Awesome, but rewarding.

Gibson: Yes. It's a lot.

Kim: You need the milk to make the ice cream. It's all coming full circle. That's wonderful. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate talking to you.

Gibson: Nice to meet you.

Kim: Thank you very much.

Carla: Thanks, Kim.

Kim: Thank you so much for listening. Again, be sure to listen back to the full episode from the Washington County Fair. Just check back in your podcast feed, or click the link in the show notes. Huge thank you to Pam, Kylie, Tucker and Gibson for taking the time to talk with me. I really appreciate you all sharing your passion and knowledge. Rhody Radio is a proud resident partner of the Rhode Island Center for the Book, and is brought to you by library staff and community members all around the Ocean State. Rhody Radio is made possible with support from The Office of Library and Information Services.

The project has been funded in part by grants from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Library Association. You can find more from Rhody Radio on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you enjoyed today's episode, subscribe to Rhody Radio and rate or review us on Apple podcasts or Spotify to help us reach more Rhode Islanders. Have a great weekend.


Carla: Here goes Kylie with another rosette for some kind of championship, Kylie that we just talked to. She really is raking them in today.

Kim: Yes.

Carla: She's had a great day. [00:14:00]

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