The final event of every B.E.S.T. season is the awards banquet.
The banquet is a fun time for everyone to get together, enjoy a good meal, and actually look and smell decent.
To be honest...we don't recognize half the people when they are all cleaned up.
This is a picture of all the B.E.S.T. participants that attended the banquet.
That is a lot of kids...and a lot of the kids weren't there this weekend.
This is the Knox County crew.
I know...we are in Morrow County...but sometimes they put us in with the Knox County crew because we show at the Knox County Fair.
We just go with the flow...
The main event of the evening is the award recognitions.
Not everyone that attends the banquet is eligible for an award.
However, they give away tons of door prizes and all participants that are present at the banquet are entered into a drawing for a one year lease of an Eby trailer.
Those that attended all 15 B.E.S.T. shows this season were presented with a show pass good for a free entry at one of next year's shows.
Isaac received a belt buckle for accumulating the most points for the season in the Miniature division.
Each show, they are given a certain number of points for how they placed in the ring. These points accumulate throughout the season and the top 2 points winners are awarded a belt buckle.
We knew going into the weekend what awards the boys would receive...except for one.
Each year they have a photography contest. You can enter a picture in three different categories and then they are judged by each age division. They also have an adult division that parents can participate in. A first, second, and third place winner are selected from each age division.
The photography winners are presented with a canvas print of their winning picture.
As soon as we walked in, Walker's eyes turned to the photography awards.
There in the back is his picture....
And it is the biggest one...so he knew he won 1st place.
He was so excited!
I think he was more excited about winning the photography contest for the junior division than he has ever been about winning a buckle.
Walker has never had any direction or training in photography.
At the Ohio Beef Expo, he begged and pleaded and whined until I let him use my camera.
I stood right by his side and watched him like a hawk!
Nobody messes with my camera!
I knew he really wanted to submit some photos for the contest, so I indulged him for about 5 minutes.
He took an amazing picture!
That is me on the end!
Yep...I won first place in the adult division.
I had a really hard time getting a picture. The rules state there are not supposed to be any edits or enhancements to the photos. In this digital age of photography, that is a really hard thing to do.
I have a lot of pictures I love, but I have cropped, lightened, sharpened, etc. to get the picture just the way I like it. That meant I couldn't use any of those pictures.
I am probably my toughest critic, so it took a long time for me to take a picture that I was happy with.
I have never won an award for photography, so I was almost as excited as Walker.
The hardest part has been finding the perfect place to hang the pictures in our house.
I am trying to convince everyone to let me take my picture to work to liven up the boring white walls of my office.
This is the picture that Isaac submitted for the contest. He didn't win anything and is pretty disappointed.
He took this with his phone one afternoon as a storm was starting to roll in.
I love this picture so much, I think I am going to have it printed on a canvas for him to hang in his room.
Yesterday afternoon Isaac was busy learning to use his camera (my old camera). He is bound and determined to take better pictures and win the photography contest next year.
We always love attending the B.E.S.T. banquet and this year was no exception. The Ohio Cattlemen's Association has created a wonderful program, and along with their many sponsors and supporters, they have put a lot of smiles on faces.
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Each year we plod along doing what we always do.
Then, one day we look back and realize we learned something.
Life is all about taking one more step and learning one new thing. Each new thing builds on the last thing, and then one day....maybe we will have a few things figured out.
We don't claim to have this cattle thing figured out...but we have learned a few things along the way.
The B.E.S.T. season is over...
And it feels like it just began.
When we headed to Lima the day after Thanksgiving, we faced a daunting few months. Little did we know that the next few months would hold a family death, a job change and a winter full of sickness.
Life can be crazy...but even more so when you have to cram your normal life into your non-show weekends.
But...for some reason, this year felt like the quickest season yet.
Maybe it is because we are just another year older...and they say the older you get, the faster time flies.
We started the season with 4 cows...but mostly because we couldn't decide which ones to show.
Three of these cows finished out the season, and one made her way back home.
Some cows are destined for the show ring and some are just meant to be mamma cows and build the herd back home. Just because a cow isn't show stock, doesn't mean that she won't throw an amazing show calf. Some of our ugliest cows throw our most amazing babies.
Fina just wasn't cut out for the show string. Fina is keeping some of our foundation blood lines alive as we have to make some difficult decisions about the future of her dam.
River did finish out the season...just with another family.
River went to live with a family that is new to the stock show life. This family is striving to raise their kids with the values and work ethic that they see in so many of the older kids on the show circuit. They see the difference in these stock show kids and want that for their family.
River found a family that spoils her rotten. They even figured out she likes gummy bears...but just the red ones.
That left us with Ribbon and Jewel for Isaac and Walker to show.
It was Isaac's turn for first pick of the heifers and he chose to show Ribbon. Walker was back and forth, but he decided on Jewel.
It is kinda ironic, because the first heifer that Walker ever showed was Rachel.
Walker and Rachel did not get along. Rachel is CRAZY!
Rachel is Jewel's mom. Every year we have the fear that Rachel's crazy will rub off on her calf.
Fortunately, Jewel is a little doll baby and she and Walker got along wonderfully.
Even with our very indecisive start, we figured out pretty quickly that Ribbon was going to hold her own for the season. We were a little surprised, but mostly relieved.
We have a pretty tight knit group of Miniature Hereford breeders in the area. While you never know who or what is going to show up at a show, we had some sneak peaks. We heard rumors of breeders that had sold calves that were supposed to show in the B.E.S.T. and we even watched some online auctions where we knew some of the other bidders. We knew there were going to be good animals this year.
For several years we bought our show heifers. Some years, we just didn't have enough heifers. Other years, we had specific cows in mind that we wanted to add to our breeding program.
This year...it was all about us. We had enough heifers to choose from here on the farm, and we had some very specific reasons why we wanted to wait to buy off the farm.
It makes us very proud to show the animals we have bred and raised...but it can also be very scary.
Will our cows make the cut?
Is our breeding program on the right track?
Are we completely out of our league?
After that first show, there is always a huge sigh of relief. While there has to be a winner and a loser, it is always nice to figure out where you stand.
This season also brought some big struggles for us.
The show season is difficult on the cows. There is a lot of stress on their systems in a short amount of time. We really do ask a lot of them.
This year we battled gut issues almost from the start. We did everything we could think of and talked to everyone who would listen. The vet ran every test imaginable and the only answer we got didn't really tell us anything. No one had an answer.
We changed feed, water, mineral, hay, vitamins, supplements, medicines....everything.
One week the cows would look great and two days later they had horrible diarrhea...but they weren't sick...all the tests came back negative. A week later they would be fine. Another week later and they were sunk in, with dull, burnt hair. Sometimes they would eat and sometimes they wouldn't. Nothing seemed to help.
Some shows, we questioned if we should even go. But, we trudged through. While other people found their groove and the cows were improving with every show, we felt like we were going backward.
The final show of the season was a pretty good summary of the struggles we faced. We placed first...and last.
The judge has to judge on that day in that ring.
Two days before, Jewel had placed second in her class. It was one of her good days. Then, she fell apart again. She deserved to place last.
We have had gut struggles before...just never this bad.
Before, the answer was fresh green grass.
I can't say we are sad this season is over. We know these cows desperately need time at home out on good clean pasture. The barn needs aired out and disinfected. We still don't know what the problem is...and it is driving us crazy...but we are going to fix it. Ribbon and Jewel still have a lot of showing ahead of them and we certainly don't want to repeat the struggles of this winter.
Now, if we can just get the snow to go away and the grass to grow.
Through all the struggles, Isaac and Ribbon did come out in first place for the season.
Isaac did a good job from start to finish. He picked a good calf out of the field and he worked tirelessly throughout the season. He cared for Ribbon each and every day and kept a close eye on her condition throughout this year of struggles. He has a special calmness and patience about him that makes it all look easy and effortless. But, behind the scenes, we see the determination and hours of work that make it all happen.
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Well...we made it through last week.
I am pretty sure I looked like a zombie walking around the office on Monday...but I was there.
We are pretty much caught up on sleep and even had the rare opportunity to not wake up to an alarm on Saturday morning.
The laundry is all done, the trailer is unpacked, the cows have been released from quarantine and are enjoying the beautiful sunshine out in the pastures.
I think life is back to normal.
photo courtesy of Linde's Livestock Photography
I may sound like a broken record, but the Ohio Beef Expo really is our favorite show of the year. We pack a lot of activities into a few short days, but we always come home with a lot of great memories.
This year was no different.
We are finally home from the Ohio Beef Expo.
It was an amazing week, but...
I am tired.
I have a huge pile of really stinky laundry...
And we have done the dump and run all week...so my house is a mess!
So, I am going to keep this short and sweet...because I need to sleep...and get caught up.
This is my favorite picture from the week.
This is the mini boys.
These are the boys that showed Miniature Herefords in the B.E.S.T. this season.
There was a girl too, but she wasn't able to show yesterday.
These boys have become fast friends.
To be honest, I think they were a little disappointed yesterday when it was time to show...
They had to quit throwing the football.
Yesterday was a really long day...with lots of waiting. These boys made the best of it and had fun together all day.
This is why we show.
Yes, showing cattle teaches them so many things, and they love to show.
But...the friendships they form is so much more important than any ribbons or awards.
This group of boys have been great together. They are competitive, but they have all lost at some point. They all have great attitudes, congratulate each other, and are genuinely happy when they see one of the others succeed.
Until we move in to the 2018 Ohio Beef Expo.
I can't believe it is already here.
It seems like we were just starting the B.E.S.T. season, and now we are heading to our final show.
But before it ends...
We have two more chances to put our cows through the ring.
This week, Apollo, our 9 month old bull, got his new bull bling.
The vet was out to do health papers for the Ohio Beef Expo and some pregnancy checks, so we had him go ahead and add a bull ring for Apollo.
So what is a bull ring and why do we use them?
With work and school, we are apart all week. When the weekend comes, we try to do as much as we can together as a family.
Show weekends are always family weekends.
Sometimes we have to divide and conquer, so there are some weekends that I will stay home one day to just keep up on the laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping. But, I am always there for show day.
However...the last 2 weekends have not been divide and conquer....but divide and sleep.
I came down with the creeping crud.
It's not the flu...thank goodness!
But, it is the nasty, won't go away, symptoms I haven't had since I was a kid cold.
I am two weeks in, and just when I think I am getting better, I get a new and bizarre symptom.
The last 2 weekends have been back to back Sunday show weekends. We always dread this point of the show season, because we are almost at burnout point, and then we have to push through two weekends in a row.
The only thing that keeps us going is knowing that pushing hard now, means we get to finish our season a couple of weeks earlier than in the past.
I had every intention of being at the shows the last 2 Sundays. I hate to miss my kids showing. I love to watch them and be there to support them.
But, my weekends have just been bad. Bad enough that I don't feel guilty not leaving the couch all day.
It was only a few short years ago that we made our showing debut.
In July of 2012, Isaac showed a Miniature Hereford at the Knox county fair as part of his 4-H project. Boy, were we in over our heads.
It was our vet that encouraged us to show at the Ohio Beef Expo. After being completely overwhelmed at the county fair, there was no way we were going to embarrass ourselves at a show as big as the Beef Expo.
We talked ourselves into it, and in 2013 we attended the Ohio Beef Expo for the first time.
Looking back, it was the best decision we ever made...or the worst.
After a couple of months away from the show ring, we began our new show season the week before Thanksgiving at N.A.I.L.E..
Then, the day after Thanksgiving we started the new B.E.S.T. season.
For those of you that are new here, the B.E.S.T. is a youth program sponsored by the Ohio Cattlemen's Association. The season begins in November and ends in March at the Ohio Beef Expo. We show approximately every 2 weeks at different locations all over Ohio. You accumulate points at each show and then a banquet is held at the end of the year to award the participants with the highest points in each division.
The first show of the season is held in Lima, Ohio. It is one of the most attended shows of the season and it is always fun to see all the new cows. You never know what is going to show up, and it is your first look at your competition for the year.
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.