Hard work and happiness pay off for high school student
Elle Adams is unique in an era when many teenagers spend their time glued to electronic devices. The 18-year-old owns a farrier business, raises miniature horses and show pigs, and is active in 4-H and FFA.
The high school student was born in Pueblo County, Colorado, and lives with a busy family with mom, dad, and four siblings in Avondale. The pretty, blonde energetic young woman shares that she “pretty much grew up in the 4-H barn” where, over the years, she and her sister have had dairy goats, horses and ducks. She even competed in welding competitions.
What made her transition from dairy goats to show pigs? “We enjoyed our pig projects, but the cost of a show pig was outrageous. We decided to raise our own pigs that we can show and also eat.” She admits that although their show pigs generally place near the bottom of the 4-H class, they’re pigs that will become sausage, pork chops and ham. “And don’t forget the bacon,” Elle piped up.
She and her siblings can keep their costs low by raising their own pigs instead of purchasing an expensive one, and the money they receive from the sale is mainly profit which goes into the bank. “There is a lot that goes into raising then showing our pigs and making money from the sale, and it’s gratifying.”
In addition to raising her own show pigs, Elle is always game to help friends and neighbors with farrowing. If a sow is having trouble giving birth, often Elle will be called to help sort out the problem.
Other critters making their home in Avondale include horses and miniature “mini” horses. Elle’s aunt had given her a mini, and she quickly discovered what fun they were. “They are smart, they learn quickly, and they have a lot of personality. Right now, I have four ranging from 32 inches to 34 inches. I’ve had my youngest brother saddle break them for me and I trained them to pull a cart.
Elle and the minis bring joy during the holiday season by hitching up the mini-pulled sleigh with Santa and an elf and visiting nursing homes, daycares and other public venues. “We get many people who see us driving by, get their kids, and bring them back. They all want to take photos and pet the mini.”
ATTENDING FARRIER SCHOOL
When she was 16, she thought it would be interesting to learn how to shoe her equine friends. She heard about a nearby farrier school and enrolled. “Everyone was older, and there were grown men, but that wasn’t a problem. I enjoyed learning about the structure of the hoof, how to read the tissue, and figure out how to trim and shoe a hoof properly. I work on the hooves of a lot of minis, mules and horses.”
Her business, Sugar Farms Farrier Services, currently has 33 clients, which keeps the young woman busy on evenings and weekends. However, she plans to expand her farrier business hours after graduating high school.
“It’s a good challenge to make your own shoes, adjust them and get the foot shod as good as possible. I carry my anvil with me and make sure the shoe fits,” she shared. To attend farrier school, she acquired a shoeing tools package and took money from her 4-H fund to start her business, purchasing an anvil. She used her smaller SUV to haul around her farrier equipment, but fortunately, her brother found a good deal on a pick-up truck with more room for everything, so Elle now has a place for the shoes, tools and the anvil.
The cheery teenager attributes her excellent work ethic to her parents. “It just comes naturally. We grew up that way. My dad is a hard worker, and there isn’t a day he’s not working on something or helping someone. My siblings and I always went along with my parents when there was work to do.”
In addition to breeding pigs, raising and training minis, and running her farrier business, Elle takes time for community service projects through her 4-H chapter. “We make blankets for the local child advocacy center for kids who, unfortunately, need their services, and we do hygiene supply drives for the rescue mission and the cooperative care. We will put stickers on drains warning people not to dump waste into them, and we will do a drive to collect coats, hats and mittens for the cooperative care. We also do a peanut butter and jelly drive for our local food bank near our high school, and our FFA participates in highway cleanups. Several of these are multiple times each year.”
Her advice about being successful to other young people? “Success is measured differently by everyone, but you’re not going to be successful if you don’t get out and work. Go out there and do something, and be good at it.”
Ashley Rusler has known Elle since her children started in 4-H six years ago and Elle started caring for Rusler’s horses’ hooves. “The scope of works with Elle is endless. She is our farrier, but she is more than a farrier. She always reports back on the hoof health of our three horses, and helps us know what we can do to keep a hoof healthy.”
Rusler, who lives near Elle in Avondale, said they have had farriers in the past, but Elle goes above and beyond helping with what the horses need. “I trust her to come over when my kids are here and I’m not, and she can shoe the horses when nobody is here. She takes her time and is never rushed. I know people say, ‘Don’t go with a farrier right out of farrier school’ but she’s fantastic.”
When Rusler brought home her rescue donkey, his feet had never been trimmed and were exceedingly long and in bad shape. Elle and her father came over for three weeks in a row, gained the trust of the donkey, and were able to get him trimmed.
“They just stayed with it. That speaks to what Elle is all about,” said Rusler. “She won’t stop until the job is done.”
Anna Cesar, a neighbor in Fowler, raises show goats, and has known Elle for 10 years. “I raised my grandkids, who are about the same age as Elle, so they all spent a lot of time together and you can say I kind of ‘adopted’ her.”
Elle has been helping Cesar for the past four years, getting goats to the shows, milking and trimming their feet. “She’s so dependable,” said Cesar. “She’s very patient with animals — she’s an animal whisperer. She will work with a horse nobody else can shoe. She’s very kind, and the animals sense that.”
Cesar praised the teenager’s intuitiveness, saying when they get to a show, she takes charge. “She makes sure the goats are comfortable in their pens. She can milk a goat by hand or machine, prep for the show and always shows that animal to the best of her ability. Plus, she is always willing to share her knowledge and help others.”