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Rare breeds on display at Garfield Farm

CAMPTON HILLS – A fistful of grass was all it took for 6-year-old Elizabeth McLaughlin to get the ox's attention.

Teasing the Devon ox, the St. Charles girl kept the just-plucked blades out of the animal's reach for a few moments, swiftly moving the tuft up and down, left and right before finally letting the ox feed on the vegetation – only to repeat the game again.

Elizabeth interacted with the ox and other farm animals Sunday during Garfield Farm Museum's 28th rare breeds show.

Her father, Jason McLaughlin, said this was the first year the family attended the event. Elizabeth wants to be a veterinarian, he said, adding she brought a sketch pad with her so she could draw the animals.

"She's definitely enjoying it," he said.

In addition to letting visitors get up close to such animals as turkeys, horses, sheep and rabbits, the Campton Hills event featured tours of the 1846 inn, sheep shearing and sheep herding.

Emilie Tamblyn, 14, of the Tamblyn Farm in Manteno, told visitors about the animals her family brought, a large black piglet and a Katahdin ewe named Cinnamon.

"This is really the only show we do," Emilie said, describing her family's operation as a hobby farm. "It's a lot of fun."

Elsewhere on the farm, groups gathered to watch two 3-month-old Berkshire hogs in their muddy enclosure.

Museum volunteer Jamie Rothstein plucked two bunches of grasses and, although she tossed them in different spots, the hogs soon became competitors.

"They're fighting because they both want the same blade of grass," Rothstein said.

The animals that live at Garfield Farm – hogs, oxen, sheep, geese, chickens and turkeys – are all of breeds that the settlers would have had in the 1840s, Rothstein said.

Watching the hogs dig in the mud – presumably hunting for food – Rothstein commented on the life Garfield Farm gives them.

"They live the life of leisure," she said.

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