Blair excels at county fair

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Ashten Blair takes a break from taking care of chickens he raises for eggs and competition at the Franklin County Fair.

City Slickers 4-H Club member Ashten Blair’s hard work raising three pens filled with chickens and getting them ready for competition was rewarded with 12 ribbons from first place to a Reserve Champion at the Franklin County Fair in July.

While it was not the Hamilton Township teen’s first fair competition—he previously competed against his sister– this year he earned six first place ribbons for his chickens, showmanship, and a book; one second place award for a hen pair; a third place ribbon for a pair of hens; and three third place awards. He was also named Reserve Champion for breeding and egg production-fancy poultry.

When asked why he chose poultry as his 4-H project, he said, “I selected chickens because that was the only animal I had to show” and admitted the most challenging aspect of raising them is cleaning out their living quarters. “The most fun part is watching how they interact and establish their pecking order and seeing the different color of eggs they produce.”

His daily routine starts in the morning when he feeds his 60 chickens and gives them water before letting them out to roam free around his grandparents’ property.

“The best part is they put themselves to bed,” said Blair. “I just have to shut the door after I collect any eggs at night. I raise them throughout the year.”

Ashten’s grandmother, Terri Blair, said it is wonderful watching her grandson take on the responsibility of raising the many different breeds of chickens, as well as keeping good grades in school.

“He has been doing this for a couple of years, but as you get older in 4-H and are showing, there is more commitment when you are showing,” said Terri, who said Ashten journals on a weekly basis about his chickens and is required to know every part of a chicken. “He put in the time to know these, without anybody helping him. He has learned the importance of maintaining a routine, setting goals, making a commitment, and the follow-through that is important to achieve these goals.”

Terri said balancing everything is not always easy because of other activities in which Ashten is involved. He started running with his grandmother when he turned four and now participates in half marathons. He also plays soccer, hunts, and goes bow shooting with his father.

While keeping chickens takes work and dedication, Terri said there are perks as well.

“Eggs are definitely the best benefit for me, but watching the behaviors of the different chickens with each other can be so fun to watch. They each have their own personality and there is a pecking order for sure,” said Terri, who said chicken waste is used to amend garden soil. “They all have names, so they are pets and we allow them to stay (beyond their egg laying years) until their last breath. We are always adding to our flock every few years because Ashten likes to take different breeds to the fair. We even have one that lays Easter (colored) eggs.”

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