Each year we learn something new..
When we first started this cattle business, we learned so much. Each year we would look back and were amazed at how much had changed and how much we had learned.
We know so much more now than we did then. Each year be build on our base of knowledge, but when we look back, sometimes it doesn't feel like we are learning as much now.
Maybe we haven't been learning as many things, but each lesson is just as valuable as the things we learned in those early years.
1. They can do more than they think
The boys are taking on more and more responsibility each year when it comes to the cows. They still aren't comfortable with a pair of clippers on show day, but this year, Daniel had them doing a lot of the fitting.
Both boys fitting teams did really well at Junior Nationals, but the best part was that the kids had to do it themselves. Parents were not involved. Good, bad or ugly, it was a kid venture. It proved to Daniel and Isaac and Walker that they could do it.
It was the push they needed to put themselves outside of their comfort zone and take on more responsibility on show day.
They aren't perfect, but they have come a long way. They crave the approval of their dad, compete with each other to see who has the best leg, and want to know what they need to do better the next time.
They are gaining speed and precision and learning to deal with the time crunch of getting it all done on time, stepping in when others need help and asking for help when they are down to the wire.
2. Sometimes the less you try the better you do
We started the season letting Isaac bow out of showmanship. Showmanship is his thing...but he was just frustrated. We rarely let him back down from a fight, but we pretty much agreed it was a losing battle. Sometimes you just have to know when to throw in the towel.
Except...when you give up too soon.
We didn't let him give up completely...we just weighed our options at each show...and sometimes it was better for everyone if we just went home. However, there was one icy Saturday...that started as a not so good day...we made him stay for showmanship.
We weren't there...we were home trying to fix the furnace...but we heard Isaac had a woe is me attitude on his way to the ring.
And then something amazing happened...not only did he place in the top 10, he placed third, which is the best he has ever done in B.E.S.T. showmanship.
This is my favorite comment.
Isaac's competitive spirit kicked in after that and it was game on for the rest of the year. He ended up in 11th place for the season, but we are all very proud of that spot. It will sting a little bit when the top 10 receive awards at the banquet, but 11th out of well over 100 kids in his age division is something to be very proud of.
I am pretty sure Isaac is going to be the one to tell us if we can go home early or not next year. That competitive fire has been lit!
3. They don't like being on their own
Isaac and Walker were on their own some this year. It started in Louisville as Daniel and I were setting up for the show. We told them in advance that we were not going to be in the barn and they had to get themselves and the cows to the ring on time. Nick was there to help...and they wouldn't have made it without him...but they were parentless that day.
They did NOT like it!!!
They kept asking us to come back to the barn...but we couldn't. They had never had that much responsibility before.
No one to tell them how long until the show started...
No one to make sure they had the correct back number...
No one to tell them which cow was in which class...
All while trying to finish getting the cows ready for the ring.
They made sure to tell us they like it much better when we are around.
Now that they are growing up and learning to be more independent...it sure does feel good when they still want us around.
4. Just buy lunch!
If you haven't figured this out already...I am a penny pincher.
Showing is an expensive venture, so we try to save money any way we can. That means I usually lug a crockpot, cooler and container full of cookies to every show. That usually means I come home from work to cook dinner and food for the weekend while washing and ironing show clothes and baking cookies...all in the name of saving money.
The week before Expo, I was behind. I just couldn't keep my head above water and I was panicking. But, I cooked the chicken and baked the brownies and cookies (even though the cookies were a disaster). All I had to do was dump the food in the crockpot in the morning.
Except...it was 70 degrees. Yeah...not going to keep chicken in a 70 degree barn for 12 hours. We always eat lunch one day at the Cattlemen's booth to support the Ohio beef market, so we decided to buy lunch on the too warm for the crockpot day.
It was really nice to sit down at a table and enjoy a hot meal...with no effort from me. $30 was a little steep...but we had our own water and cookies waiting back in the barn. The next day...we bought food too.
By the third day...I was over the bring your own food thing. It was show day and I was not in the mood to dump anything in the crockpot at 2:45 a.m., so we bought lunch again...and again the next day.
So, we blew our budget, but we learned it was a small price to pay for sanity. We found a couple of not too expensive options and providing our own drinks and desserts helped to keep the cost down.
Sunday afternoon, when we were exhausted and just done, I did not regret not having to load a dirty crockpot into the truck, or filling my sink with a bunch of dirty dishes the minute I walked in the door.
We will still take food to most of the shows...but sometimes...it is definitely worth it to buy.
Another season is done. All that is left is the awards banquet in May.
It was a great year.
We have learned so much over the years and it is so much fun to watch our boys grow and learn with each year. It won't be long before they are taking over this show venture for themselves.
Until then...we cherish each moment together as a family...
Winning together...losing together...learning together...and growing together.
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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.