Diane Prather: Ian’s heifer wrangle

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Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

Almost a year ago, during the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Ian Duzik participated in the National FFA organization’s Heifer Wrangle and caught a calf.

The Heifer Wrangle is similar to the National Western Catch-It-Calf Contest. In both cases, participants try to catch calves in an arena. In neither case do winners get to keep the calves they catch. In the case of the Catch-It-Calf Contest, winners are presented with steers that they feed for the next year’s Stock Show.

But winners of the FFA Heifer Wrangle are each presented $1,000 to purchase a heifer. The heifer can be of any breed, and there are no stipulations as to where to buy her.

So, on Valentine’s Day 2009, Ian selected a heifer from his grandparents’ (Duke and Jacque Duzik) herd of Simmental cattle. The heifer, appropriately named “Valentine,” is a registered black Simmental.

It is a requirement that heifers from the FFA Heifer Wrangle be shown at the Colorado State Fair. Out of about 18 entries in the Heifer Wrangle Contest, Valentine was Champion. In addition, Ian was Reserve Champion Showman, and he was all-around Champion for total points in showmanship, class placing and record book.

Valentine was entered at the Moffat County Fair, too, where she was named Supreme Female. The female show is sponsored by the Moffat County Cattlemen, who award money to winning participants. Ian received a cash award.

Ian’s sponsor for the FFA Heifer Wrangle is Chet Lawrence, a National Western Stock Show volunteer. Ian writes a letter to Lawrence each month, a requirement of the program. He also writes a monthly letter to Dick Miller, a member of the Aspen Elks Organization, another FFA Wrangle sponsor.

Ian explained that he first met Miller at the Colorado State Fair. Ian’s sponsor didn’t show up, so Miller “gathered him up” and assumed responsibility for the things Lawrence was supposed to do.

“I was sitting on my show box when Miller came by, “ Ian said. “He talked to me and checked my record book. He is a great guy.”

Miller also paid Ian’s way to attend the 2009 FFA Convention in Indianapolis in mid-November.

Ian doesn’t have plans to show Valentine at this year’s National Western Stock Show.

“She’s done with her career,” he said. “She just gets to be a cow now.”

Valentine will have her first calf in April. Then, after his sponsor looks over Ian’s record book, Valentine and her calf will belong to Ian.

Ian is eligible to try to catch another calf through the FFA Heifer Wrangle if he chooses, but he doesn’t plan to this year. However, his cousin, Taylor Duzik (daughter of Glenn and Paula Duzik) will be participating.

In order to participate in the FFA Heifer Wrangle, applicants have to fill out paperwork that’s designed to show that they have the facilities and anything else needed to take care of a heifer.

A sophomore at Moffat County High School, Ian is a second-year member of the Moffat County High School FFA Chapter. In addition, he owns two horses that he rides in calf- and team-roping events with the Moffat County High School Rodeo Team. In the winter, Ian enjoys snow machining.

Ian hasn’t decided what he wants to do when he graduates from high school, but at this time, he thinks he may attend an agriculture college and study to become a high school agriculture teacher.

Even though Ian won’t be showing Valentine at the Stock Show, he’ll be there all the same. He plans to help his Aunt Andi and her husband R.J. Kerchal show their calves.

Ian is the son of Linda Barnes, of Texas, and Tim Duzik, of Craig. He has a sister, Alyson, who is a seventh-grader. Alyson shows swine at Texas shows.

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