4-H is more than just animals

Pete Keesling

The San Martin 4-H club celebrated a birthday last Saturday night. Peg and I were invited to their party to mark 65 years of youth activities. Most everyone knows about 4-H, but I’ll bet a lot of you don’t know about all the activities this organization has for its members. There’s a lot more than just working with farm animals at the County Fair.
4-H is a youth development program serving more than 6.5 million young people. Members, ages 9 to 19 can participate in science, leadership, citizenship and myriad other activities. Our kids were members for many years and took courses in dog training, art and even cake decorating. Besides fair animal activities, 4-H offers classes in scrapbooking, robotics, film making … you name it, they have it. There are even groups that learn marksmanship and gun safety.
So there we were, celebrating those 65 years with some of South County’s finest people. Awards were given to several, including San Martin resident Wilma Ash, whose 50 years of service to 4-H deserved special recognition. And I watched as the latest crop of 4-H young people received awards. There was a lot of pride and a lot of smiles from a group of hard-working young people.
If you have kids who’d like to learn something new in a great group setting, contact the 4-H. They’re all about animals and so many other things.  
Our 10-year-old Lab, Slick, has dry, cracked skin over his elbows. We realize this is probably because he lays on the concrete or other hard surfaces, but we can’t seem to get him to use a blanket. We even tried a mattress, but he just wouldn’t stay on it. Is there anything we can put on his elbow skin to help the dry, damaged skin?
Slick is doing exactly what a lot of dogs do; he likes the cool of the concrete surface and stays away from anything padded because it’s warmer and less comfortable to him. The end result is chronic damage to the skin over the so-called pressure points; the elbows on the front legs and the hocks on his back legs.
There are several products that you can apply to his skin that will help soften the dry callous that has formed. Lanolin works well. I also know of several people that use vitamin E oil, putting it directly on the surface of the affected area. But my favorite is a product called Bag Balm. This is a salve that was originally developed for use on the udder of milk cows to prevent their skin from chafing. Lots of people use it as a moisturizer for their own skin. I believe it’s available at many drug stores. It will help Slick’s dry skin. Try it out and see how you like it.
We agreed to take in a feral kitten from a local rescue group. He’s about 3 months old. But now, I realize that we may be in over our heads. He will be an indoor-only cat. But can we expect him to be a mellow housecat if he is feral? Did we let a wild animal into our house?
Relax. If this kitten is really only a few months old, he’ll lose most of his feral behavior after just a few short days of human contact. Feral kittens are really impressionable and they love attention, just like any other kitten. Most can be easily “won over” with a little affection and food. Here’s what you have to do. Sit with him while you watch your favorite TV show or read a book. Add a few toys for him to chase around on the couch. Oh, and don’t forget a few treats now and then. Kittens play hard and sleep soundly. With a little patience and extra time together, your kitty will be snoozing on your lap, and you’ll have a terrific new member to your family.
Remember to have your new kitten checked for health problems. And above all, make sure a stool sample is examined for worms. It’s important. You don’t want your new family member to bring home any unwanted stowaway parasites. More than anything else, have fun!

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