• By Ryan Farley, Extension Agent

4-H/Youth Development

4-H Country Ham Day

While many spent the morning of Monday, Jan. 21, off from school and relaxing in the warmth of their homes, had you come by the Woodford County Extension Office you would have seen a full parking lot, some snow and ice and a ton of hams! Marking the start of the 4-H Country Ham Project, 48 youth and families and 14 adults spent their morning up to their elbows in green hams, cure and ham socks.

The 4-H Country Ham Project is an eight-month long project for 4-Hers who are interested in learning the heritage skill of dry curing a ham. Curing Day as it’s called, starts that process, as green hams begin the curing process. For Woodford County 4-H, the hams were picked up bright and early by Adam Probst, Woodford County Ag Agent, in Shelbyville at Finchville Farms and brought back to the extension office. Once there,

4-Hers select two hams that they dry cure over the next eight months. After the ham hocks are trimmed up, 4-Hers apply their cure, a mix of brown sugar, salt, red pepper and black pepper, to the hams before wrapping them in waxless butcher paper and stuffing it all into a ham sock. From there the hams are hung in the Woodford County 4-H ham barn until the May shucking when the hams will be cleaned and all the cure will be removed.

During the down time though, the 4-Hers are still busy as they must prepare a ham speech on a pre-assigned topic to give at the Kentucky State Fair on Ham Day. On that day, all the hams from around the state (over 800) are judged by meat specialists from the University of Kentucky while the 4-Hers deliver their speeches to panels of judges. 4-Hers compete by age and can earn ribbons and recognition for their speech score, their ham score and a cumulative score as well. They must also earn livestock education hours as part of the 4-H Livestock Club, attending club meetings, educational trips and listening to guest speakers. All-in-all, the 4-H Ham Project provides a great opportunity for youth to learn about the livestock and meat industries, develop their public speaking skills and create a product that tastes good, too.

For more information on 4-H Livestock programs in Woodford County email ryan.farley@uky.edu or call 859-873-4601.

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