|Elmore County’s Junior Angus Queen, Keri Hyde Works Hard and Wins Big|
By Ginny Farmer
Keri began showing sheep at age 6, but her first experience with livestock was with a pair of Holstein dairy steers purchased by her grandmother, Ann McDonald Cooper, for Keri and her older brother, Wesley, at the Wetumpka High School Kids Day on the Farm. The Hyde kids took good care of the bottle babies, fattened them up and sent them to market at the Montgomery Stockyard. The money they earned was used to buy a new set of animals — Corriedale wool sheep.
The Hydes built a herd from those two lambs, and when Keri turned 9, she paid $250 for her first Angus heifer, which was named Sweety. Keri was also interested in goats and in one year showed all three types of animals.
Her first calf show was in August of 2001 at the New Brockton Invitational. Keri says she wasn’t very good when she started out, but was often told that at age 9 and just 40 pounds, she and her, also smaller-than-average, calf made a cute petite pair.
Her first goat show was in 2002 in Perry, GA, and Keri says she didn’t find it quite so difficult, placing well her first year. "I rocked at goats," she said, adding that while goats aren’t exactly popular in her area, she has taken them to numerous county fairs and placed well, even winning showmanship at the Alabama National Fair, where in October she won Reserve Champion in the Supreme Competitor category.
This year, she has already attended three national competitions: the American Boer Goat Association, the International Boer Goat Association and Angus Nationals. She says she loves showing Angus and Boer goats equally. She said that while sheep were easy for her to show as a younger child, she hasn’t shown sheep since age 11, since the wool breed is difficult to grow and is not popular for showing in Alabama. A big motivator for showing the Angus calves and Boer goats is her acquisition of scholarship money, which she can use to raise her animals.
A lot of the money Keri earns is spent at the Elmore County Exchange, where the Hyde family turns for animal feed, dewormers, tags and fencing. The Hydes buy 13% Cattle Feed for the pasture cows, goat feed pellets, Bull and Steer Feed for the show calves, cracked corn for the goats, chicken feed and soyhull pellets.
"They’re excellent customers," Co-op Manager Mac Free said of the Hyde family. "They really, really, really work hard. They are faithful customers, and I really appreciate them. They have top-quality animals and feed good feed."
Keri even has a Billy Goat Gruff grooming stand that was donated to the Elmore County Goat Club by the Co-op for a raffle. As a member of the Goat Club, Keri sold raffle tickets, and the winner ended up giving her the grooming stand.
"The Co-op is very generous and good about helping the local youth," Delane Hyde said. "Mac and Jay (Hughes) are really good about donating. All the employees are very good to help. If we need something and they don’t have it, they’ll order it."
Free said the Co-op enjoys contributing anything they can to youth events, such as the Goat Club.
"As far as kids, we try our best," he said. "They’re our up-and-coming cattle and goat growers, so we try to do all we can for them."
Many of Keri’s animals have come from the Tennessee farm of Pit and Linda Kemmer, who have long been friends of the Hyde family, while others have come from Allan and Debra Lambert. The Hydes themselves have a little experience in the farming industry. Keri’s mother, Delane, who works as a teacher, was raised by the only daughter of a farming family with 11 children.
Though neither Delane nor her husband, Mel, ever showed animals, they are supportive of their children’s activities.
"I think it teaches responsibility," Delane Hyde said. "Parents should let their children do it rather than make them, because they learn."
Delane Hyde describes her daughter as competitive, but says she’s still just a silly 14-year-old at home. Though life has been "non-stop" for Keri since July, she says she doesn’t get stressed out, and she still enjoys school.
The Hydes have lived on their farm since Keri was just a year old and have numerous animals on the property, including about 30 goats, 16 cows (with more births expected soon), chickens, and, of course, dogs. Keri is raising a Blue Merle Australian Shepherd named Fern to work the goat pen. She says the dog is named for a character in the movie "Charlotte’s Web."
"All of Keri’s calves are sweet to her," Keri’s mom says, "because she breaks them, and nobody else can show them."
Keri said she is proud to be able to do something not everyone can do, and she wants to keep working with animals all her life. Either Auburn University or the University of Tennessee can expect to enroll Keri once she graduates from high school. She said she’d like to study animal science or veterinary medicine at one of the two schools.
For more information on youth livestock shows, visit www.alnationalfair.org or www.aces.edu.
Ginny Farmer is a freelance writer from Auburn.