FORT RIPLEY, Minn. – The busy day of Aug. 1 for the Caughey family included showing at the fair in between morning and evening chores.
    Dan and Emily Caughey, with their four daughters – Clare, 8, Gianna, 6, Marcella, 3, and Adelaide, 2 – spent much of the day at the Crow Wing County Fair in Brainerd, Minn. The girls exhibited animals from the family’s 73-cow dairy Dan and Emily operate through a partnership they share with Dan’s parents, Bruce and Rosanne, and brother, Mac, and his wife, Stacey. Along with their dairy herd, the Caugheys also farm corn, rye, oats and alfalfa, and manage a herd of 230 beef cows and 300 steers on their farm near Fort Ripley, Minn.
    The farm was started by Dan’s dad, Bruce, and his great uncle, who bought the farm from their dad before then. Now, Dan and Emily take care of the dairy cows, while Mac and Stacey focus mostly on the beef cows and crops.
    “It’s challenging balancing family time with work time,” Dan said. “But, I love the satisfaction of knowing I’m feeding the world.”     
    Dan rose bright and early at 4:40 a.m. as per usual on Aug. 1.
    “I woke up to hear my 2-year-old, Adelaide, upset because there wasn’t enough chocolate milk in her sippy cup,” Dan said.
    After being woken up by Adelaide, Dan was out in the barn ready to start milking around 4:50 a.m. with Rosanne following him to the barn a short time later, around 5 a.m. Together, they milked until about 5:30 a.m. when Emily got to the barn to help finish milking and start the rest of the morning chores.
    “My mom and dad help Emily and I out a lot during chore time, and my brother usually comes over to grind bales,” Dan said.
    Morning chores consisted of milking, cleaning and bedding the barn, along with feeding both the cows and calves before heading to the fair for the day. Chores usually finish around 7:15 a.m. when the Caugheys take a short break before starting on the day’s project.
    “Yesterday, we loaded steers to take to the market and tomorrow I’m hoping to bale straw, but today we are taking the girls to the fair,” Dan said. “Chores were a little rushed but we are thankful everything went well.”
    Around 7 a.m., Clare and Gianna came to the barn to feed their show heifers. They were dressed and ready to load calves and attend the fair later that morning.     
    “I was really excited to go to the fair, but nervous,” Clare said.
    Adelaide agreed.
    “It was really fun,” she said.
    The Caugheys loaded cattle and left at 8:30 a.m. for the fair so the girls could have enough time to prep for the show, which started at 11 a.m.
    “It’s an awfully busy day for us,” Dan said.
    Clare has spent the summer preparing her registered Holstein summer junior yearling, Boots.
    “Dad thought I should show her because she’s a bigger calf and poses more of a challenge,” Clare said. “The day before the show at Dairy Days in Sauk Centre, Minn., Boots headbutted Gianna.
    Boots has kind of an attitude and she likes to bellow, so hopefully she will behave for me today.”
    Gianna exhibited her Red and White Holstein, Gina, while Marcella showed her heifer, BamBam. After leading their calves around the farm most of the summer, the girls have plenty of fun memories with their animals.
    “Yesterday we were walking them around, and they didn’t behave,” Clare said.
    Gianna agreed.
    “They broke the board this morning,” she said.
    At the fair, the girls looked forward to the many festivities.
    “I hope to win grand champion with Boots, my crops and win tallest cornstalk,” Clare said before the show. “However, it’s kinda hard when our cousins exhibit everything that we do.”
    The girls arrived at the fair around 9 a.m. ready to wash animals, bed stalls, feed calves, set up toplines and get dressed. “We were a little late and Emily had to stay home for a bit to take care of a new calf that was born on the farm,” Dan said.
    Around 10:30 a.m. Clare, Gianna and Marcella changed into their show clothes and put show halters on their calves as little sister Adelaide observed the festivities.
    At 11 a.m., Marcella started the show with BamBam, receiving first place for her division.
    “It was super fun to show her,” Marcella said.
    A short time later, Gianna led Gina out into the ring, also receiving first place in the registered Holstein winter calf class.
    “I felt really good about showing,” Gianna said.
    Lastly, Clare paraded Boots into the ring to receive first place in her class.
    “I was so excited,” Clare said.
    The rest of the day was a free afternoon for the girls.
    “It’s fun being with my animals, walking around and looking at cool things,” Clare said.
    Gianna agreed.
    “I loved the miniature pony rides that I got to go on,” she said.
    Adelaide had fun, too.
    “I really like seeing the pigs and crawling on the fence,” she said.
    The girls checked their crops and art work, got a lunch consisting of cheeseburgers and hotdogs, and participated in the pedal tractor pull. Clare won third place for the 8-year-old division and Gianna won second place for the 6-year-old division.
    “Marcella didn’t place, but pulled 7 inches,” Emily said.
Concluding their day was the animal dress up contest at 6 p.m. judged by Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
    Clare dressed as a bride with Boots dressed as a groom. Gianna dressed as Mrs. Claus with Gina dressed as a reindeer. Marcella dressed as Little Bo Peep with BamBam as a sheep. Clare and Boots won first place, which was $50 from the Crow Wing County Farm Bureau.
    “I was really excited, when I first came up with the idea,” Clare said. “I thought I would win and then I actually did.”Back at the farm, Stacey and Rosanne started evening chores so Dan and Emily could attend the contest with the girls.
    Upon arriving home, the Caugheys finished up chores and Emily headed back to the fair around 10 p.m. to help close the malt stand for the Crow Wing county American Dairy Association.
    Their day ended around 11 p.m.
    “It was a busy, event-filled day,” Dan said.