Monday, July 9, 2012

Kricket and Gussie Keetch

Today we travel to Utah and meet Kricket and Gussie Keetch. FFA and 4-H members. These girls are learning ranch life and livestock handling first hand!

We have been born and raised in Central Utah, both our parents came from agriculture backgrounds. Our dad grew up raising horses with his dad and training colts. He put himself through college shoeing horses. He rode saddle broncs in college and the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association) for about 7 years. Our mom grew up on a small farm, they always had horses and raised their own beef. After being married for several years, our parents started their own small business, now called Keetch Cowboy Gear. Our dad, Mike Keetch, is a saddle-maker and part-time machinist, and our mom, Cindy, is a chap maker. We have always had horses growing up and as we (Kricket and Gussie) have gotten older, we have really come to love and enjoy the Californio style of horsemanship and stock handling. 

We, like most agriculture in our area, live on a small farm with horses, a few cows, chickens and a dog or two. We have a small arena to practice in and love to ride in the mountains. We take a week long pack trip once a year and enjoy the outdoors immensely. We have been blessed with friends and opportunities to do ranch work; sorting cattle, pushing cows up the mountain in the spring, gathering in the fall, doctoring cattle, work a feedlot, and our favorite, branding with several area ranches.

Kricket, now eighteen, was able to learn how to make a basic 17 strand cinch when she was about 13. Since then, she has learned to make other styles of cinches. She has learned to dye her own mohair, do different designs and people's brands. One of her cinches goes on all her dad's saddles and she has built her own clientele for Kricket's Custom Cinches. Kricket joined FFA as a freshman and has since been very involved. She was her chapter's Finance Committee Chairman, then Secretary, and was chapter President her senior year. Her SAE (supervised agricultrual experience) project was her cinch business and taking care of and using her horses. She has won various awards on the state level and was one of the top 4 individuals in the state for the Star State Agribusiness award.

Gussie, age fifteen, is naturally gifted with horses. She has great "feel" and is able to achieve the move she's trying to get from the horse. She loves horses and couldn't imagine her life without them. She expresses these thoughts and feelings through her cowboy poetry. She loves to write and has earned literary awards all through school since the first grade. Recently she had her poems published in Ranch and Reata magazine, along with a short story and pictures of her. She helps her dad or mom with any leather work they need and enjoys hanging out in the saddle shop.

In 2009 Kricket was able to participate in the 4-H Working Ranch Horse Competition. It is a fairly new addition to 4-H so for those of you unfamiliar with it, each contestant has to take a written test on their knowledge of horses and cattle, complete a reining pattern, box a cow and take it down the fence and turn it each way, sort three cows out of a herd in numerical order, head up to three cows out of a herd in 90 seconds, and heel a cow and lay it down in less than 90 seconds and use the same horse for the whole thing. (someone heads the given cow for you). In 2010 Kricket and Gussie participated. It has been an awesome experience and gave us awesome opportunities to meet other kids, like us, from around the entire state. This goes hand-in-hand with practical ranch work which we love to participate in every chance we get.

Thanks Kricket and Gussie for the great feature! You can follow these girls and their adventures on their blog Boots, Braids and Big Loops!

Are you a member or past member of FFA and 4-H? How did these organizations help you get involved in agriculture? We want to hear your story! Leave a comment or contact us!

If you would like to be a featured farmer or know someone who should be, leave a comment below - or check out our contact page. To learn more about the Faces of Agriculture Project click here.