For the Love of Livestock

Bakersfield

There’s no other place 11-year-old Aspen Van de Kerkhoff and 14-year-old Kohle Van de Kerkhoff would rather be than at the Kern County Fair.

“Because it’s fun and I like the animals. The friends too,” said Aspen Van de Kerkoff.

This is their second year showing lambs at the fair as a part of Kern Valley 4-H.

“When you shown in the ring you’re working with your lamb and you’re seeing all the work you’ve done with your lamb and how much improved with it,” said Kohle Van de Kerkhoff.

It’s hard work for any kid, but especially these two.

“Both kids have been diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease which involves a whole lot of issues within the body including dysautonomia, neuropathy, cyclic vomiting. They’re unable to regulate their temperature and they both have immune compromised issues,” said Heather Van de Kerkhoff, Aspen and Kohle’s Mother.

At first glance nothing seems wrong, but if you look closer you’ll notice the cooling vests they wear and their fellow 4-H members constantly by their side.

“That’s really a struggle because they do look normal but they can crash pretty quickly and when they do crash it’s pretty scary,” Heather Van de Kerkhoff said.

If Aspen or Kohle crash they have to be rushed to the hospital.

Nothing is easy for them.

“Kohle and Aspen take a huge regiment of supplements and medication every morning and night and just to make it through the day successfully it’s called a mito-cocktail and so both of them have like 22 medications morning and night to get down before they even start their day,” Heather Van de Kerkhoff said.

Knowing all of that makes their time raising and showing lambs so much more special.

“It’s allowed us to allow other people in to help and we have developed some really amazing friends through that,” Heather Van de Kerkhoff said.

“I can work with my team. I love to be a part of a team and your team on the supports you and helps you a lot,” Kohle Van de Kerkhoff said.

“These kids all rally around one another. a positive experience for those kids is a winner for all the rest of us,” said GW

“I don’t know it’s a pretty amazing program,” Heather Van de Kerkhoff said.

The Kern Valley 4-H group is a family, proving nothing can stop you when you work together.

“Don’t set limitations on them. Don’t live in a bubble. You’ve got to be able to experience as much as possible. Let them do what they want to try to do. Let them experience what they can,” Heather Van de Kerkhoff said.

“Because actually it’s kind of easy, but also it’s a little bit hard, but once you get the hang of it you can do it,” Aspen Van de Kerkhoff said.

Aspen and Kohle wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped them, their 4-H group, the Sheep Committee at the fair and so many more.

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