Donation of 4-H heifer raises $50,000 for family
Before she hit the sale ring at Sterling (Colorado) Livestock Commission on Wednesday, Aug. 14, Socks, was a market-type heifer that didn’t quite tip the scales to the required weight to sell in the Logan County Fair’s Junior Market Livestock Sale. Ellee Sonnenberg, her 14-year-old showman, showed her in the feeder class and thought Socks might be able to answer a higher calling.
Despite the disappointing news at the scale, Ellee made a request of her parents to allow her to sell the heifer with the proceeds benefitting the family of Jace Harris. Harris, a Fleming, Colo., cowboy and stock dog trainer, passed away unexpectedly on July 28, leaving behind his wife, Jeni, and two children. Sonnenberg, who is the pastor at LeRoy Community Church, had preached his funeral the week prior and said watching the family’s grief had touched his daughter’s heart.
Sonnenberg’s first call was to Jason and Jim Santomaso at Sterling Livestock Commission. Jason Santomaso agreed to sell the heifer through a special sale. It was then Thea Sonnenberg told Jared a little more about the heifer that she said had always been her favorite.
When a springtime blizzard hit the ranch, the Sonnenbergs, along with numerous other ranchers, suffered cattle losses. Socks, Thea said, was one of the surviving calves in a pasture when others were lost. In fact, Thea snapped a photo of the little heifer that she had always considered a favorite the day after the storm. A few months later, Ellee purchased her for her 4-H project and now, Thea said, the whole story came together.
Santomaso auctioned Socks off one part at a time, ceremoniously, before a buyer from the Brush, Colo., area purchased the heifer and donated her back to Ellee who sold her again. When the proceeds were tallied, the little heifer, Ellee, and the community had raised $50,000 for the Harris family.
“This area is a pretty special part of the world,” Jared Sonnenberg said. “This has all been organic, but it seems like a pretty special little calf for a special family and a special kid. We see God at work in all of it.” ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.