Last weekend was the final show of the 2015-2016 Ohio Cattlemen's Association BEST season. Another year in the books, and another year of learning and growth.
As we look back, we are always amazed at how far we have come. Each year we learn more about cows, farming, clipping, showing, other people and most importantly ourselves.
1. Warm weather is better
...but bring your fans and your heaters. This winter was an interesting one. We had a very warm winter and hardly any snow. We may just have our largest snowfall this weekend.....grrrrr!
2. Sometimes it is better to have competition
We were very thankful to have our own class for the miniature breeds this year. Because it was such a new class, most of the year it was just Isaac and Walker in the ring. Those shows that we did have competition, like the Ohio Beef Expo, the wins were so much sweeter.
3. Our kids aren't always competitive
You would think that brother against brother in the show ring would bring out their competitive nature. Instead, they would laugh and joke with each other in the ring. They really didn't care who won, they just had a good time.
It's not often as a parent that you get to step back from the referee position, but it was a nice change...if only for a few moments.
4. George Foreman grills are the best
We usually just take the crockpot to all the shows. The men and boys were on their own for the Lebanon show and they grabbed a George Forman grill some buns and a package of hamburgers. Turns out it is a pretty slick idea. I don't always have time to prep something to throw in the crockpot before a show, so it is really nice to have an alternative. Plus, this year we actually had to worry about the food spoiling in the warm weather.
5. Stalling with friends in even more fun than showing
We all go to the shows with the end result of being in the show ring. However, most of the day is spent back in the barn, talking, working, eating and playing with friends and family.
We went to one show this year without our show family, and we almost felt lost without them. The laughter and memories are made back in the barn more so than in the show ring.
6. We really like showing heifers
...or steers, but not both. This is the first year that we have shown only heifers. Each show alternates with the heifers showing on Saturday and the steers on Sunday, and then the next show it is reversed. This meant that on some weekends, we were home resting and relaxing on the couch come Sunday afternoon. It is amazing the difference it makes to have that extra down time before we have to head back to work.
7. Our kids find motivation in their friends
This year we really worked on making the boys more responsible for the care of their cows. This is the boys' project. We want them to learn and do the work, not just grab the lead line on the way into the show ring.
A parent can talk until they are blue in the face, but it doesn't always sink in. We found that when the boys saw their friends taking care of a cow, it made them want to do the same. When the girl next to them grabs a pair of clippers and starts clipping her cow, it makes them want to learn to do the same thing.
If we could just take the motivators home with us.
8. Two chutes are better
We borrowed another grooming chute this year. With both heifers going into the ring at the same time, it was really nice to have the second chute. We had to return the borrowed chute and decided that we just couldn't go back to one chute. Daniel and I traded in our old steel chute on a new aluminum chute and the boys pooled their money and bought a second aluminum chute. We are in heaven!
9. Have fun with the judges
Since the boys were in such a small class, they had the unique opportunity to have some great one-on-one time with the judges. The judges were able to ask them questions, and many joked with them and got them laughing with each other.
Isaac and Walker always left the show ring with a smile.
10. Think before loading the trailer
When you are at the end of a show day and the only thing keeping you from your bed is an empty trailer, you learn to load really fast.
We have a new trailer this year, so it has taken some trial and error and practice, but we now have a pretty good system in place.
We always talk before loading.
Where does it fit best?
What do we need tonight?
What do we need this week?
Everything else...stays on the trailer until the next show.
Oh, and always take a garbage bag for the manure soaked outer layers. We must not get the truck dirty!!!
We have learned a lot, and this time next year, we will be able to look back on how much more we have learned.
Another year in the books, and another year of great memories. We certainly don't take for granted all of the people that have helped us get to where were we are today. It is a team effort, and family affair and a show family adventure.
You might also like...
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.