Colbey Hughes is a busy teenager. When he’s not spending his time raising prize-winning poultry and four-legged, fuzzy critters such as cavy Guinea pigs, he’s off to travel baseball practice, hunting season (he’s both a bow and rifle hunter), and one his family’s favorite fishing spots. Plus, he’s a solid student with an eye for OSU. So, when we got 15 minutes with this fantastic high-school freshman and his mom from the Hood River area, we jumped at the chance.
Last spring, Colbey and his mom, Kellie, who is a cancer survivor and a proud stay-at-home mom, came to their local Coastal in The Dalles. They were there to pick up supplies and what would be Colbey’s future, prize-winning turkey.
“Every spring we buy our turkeys for fair at Coastal,” Colbey’s mom said with a smile. “He and I have a method of picking them out. I put my hand down in the tank and show off my wedding ring to the turkeys. We only pick from the ones that show some interest in the shiny object.”
As with a lot of 4-H families, fair is a group effort. For the Hughes family, it goes one step further. The Hood River County Fair is something they look forward to every year.
“I like working toward fair,” Colbey added to what his mom had said earlier about the family loving everything about fair. “It’s neat to watch an animal grow and mature. All I have to do is feed, water, walk, and clean up after them. It takes time, but it’s totally worth it.”
Colbey’s methods of caring for his animals, along with his inquisitive and studious nature, have earned him plenty of awards over the last handful of years.
Colbey won Grand Champion Cavy Showman for the third year in a row, Reserve Champion Chicken Showman and Reserve Grand Champion Chicken Showman. Plus, he’s earned several small animal Round Robin Showman awards. And in late July, he earned Grand Champion for his turkey who weighed in at a perfect 23.5 pounds.
“The judge gave Colbey plenty of props,” his mom explained. “She would be a perfect 17-pound bird.” The judge just fell in love with her. He was impressed with how well the bird cooperated. He knew that Colbey had spent a lot of time with her. She was such a sweetheart.”
They had named the turkey Swanson. Not from the TV dinners, but from a company name Colbey saw on the side of a semi-truck.
“We were on our way back from Coastal talking about what to name her,” Colbey recalled. “My mom laughed at the suggestion then explained why. It was funny.”
Colbey’s other fair awards include Reserve Grand Champion Turkey and Reserve Overall Grand Champion for poultry. He’s also been known to raise cavy Guinea pigs and show chickens.
The family buys all of their feed and other supplies at Coastal.
“We get our hunting, fishing, horse feed, clothes, and other supplies at The Dalles store,” his mom said. “It’s nice to know that we can go there and pick up everything we need in on location. It saves us a lot of time, which really helps. Especially with Colbey’s always-growing aspirations.”
“I might want to do big animals someday, but right now this is probably enough.”
A typical school day starts with feeding and caring for his animals and getting a ride into school. After a day of learning, he and his mom drive for more than an hour to Tualatin, Oregon where Colbey’s league baseball team practices. After several hours of baseball, they drive back home, he takes care of his animals again, and then gets his homework done.
“He is a typical teenager too,” his mom explained. “He does like his phone and X-box, but he’s also very caring. He wants to make a difference.”
While Colbey and his dad, Scott, a city of Portland Firefighter, are avid bow hunters, taking home deer and elk on a regular basis, the country-conscious teen has been bothered by some things he’s seen recently in our nation’s forests.
“We’ve come across animals that were shot out of season,” Colbey explained. “They were just killed for sport. It’s not okay.”
To help make a difference, Colbey wants to become a game warden.
“I want to go to OSU, graduate, and go to work,” Colbey added. “I hope someday that I can make a difference.”
Everyone at Coastal believes and is cheering for you, Colbey. We cannot wait to hear about your next award-winning animal and your plans for the future.
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