Last week we attended the Ohio Beef Expo.
We are learning how fortunate we are to be a part of one of the best beef expos in the country. This was the Ohio Beef Expo's 34th year and it gets bigger and better with each year. With over 850 youth cattle, to the sale barn packed with cattle waiting to sell, to breeders from Ohio and all over the country, it is an opportunity to network with breeders, shop for all things cattle related and even add cattle to your farm.
The highlight for us is the Miniature Hereford show and sale.
Some may say that the agricultural community is the foundation of our country. The unseen heroes that work from sun up to sun down providing for their families and the rest of the world. They are the ones with the true grit and determination when everything is against them. From fires and drought to disease and unpredictable financial markets, they never give up. Farmers have a deep founded love for the land that flows into an unwavering love for our country.
If you were to ask most people in agriculture, I bet almost all of them would tell you that they got their start in 4-H.
For our family, 4-H is where it all started. We live in a rural community so it only made sense that our kids would be a part of the program. What we didn't know is how much it would teach us. We had no idea what we were doing and we had a club and club leaders that held our hands through that first year and taught us what we didn't even know we didn't know.
We said we weren't going to go, but for some reason, we really wanted to go to Denver, Colorado for the 2022 Miniature Hereford World Show at the National Western Stock Show.
We should have gone last year with Smith and Wesson, but we all know that didn't happen. I guess we just never got the 2021 disappointment out of our systems.
So, we packed our bags and loaded three cows onto the trailer for the twenty-four hour journey to Denver...in the middle of January...only to dodge a snow storm going out and another one on the way back home.
It's been a couple of weeks now since we were in Louisville, Kentucky for the North American International Livestock Expo.
This show is the start of our show season and then we come home long enough to throw in some laundry, head to the grocery store to buy all the food for Thanksgiving, then re-pack our suitcases to head to our cabin to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families.
I normally try to grab a few minutes in the gap between trips or while the Thanksgiving feast is digesting, to get my show reports done and you all updated on the events of the week. At the last minute, I decided not to pack my laptop this year and to fully enjoy the time with my family.
I'm feeling a little guilty at the backlog of paper work, but it was worth it.
Louisville felt different for me this year. I'm not really sure why, but probably because the past year has almost broken me. I have cried buckets...just ask my family.
A few weeks ago, one of the biggest stressors resolved itself and I have finally been able to take a deep breath, sleep through the night (except for when I wake up thinking about the show) and realizing that things are good again.
My emotions are still raw, but being on the other side of something bad has helped me to appreciate the little things that feel so good.
The cows are loaded, the trailer is busting at the seems and we are headed south to Louisville, Kentucky. This week we will be showing at the North American International Livestock Expo.
Louisville means something different for everyone. It is a national show where people and cows gather from all over the country. For some, it is the biggest show they attend and for others it is the start of something new.
For us, Louisville means the start of show season. It is the debut for many of our cows, which brings a different level of excitement. The first time a cow stands before a judge, you get a pretty good idea of whether its going to be a good year of just another year.
Last week was busy making final preparations and some last minute unplanned preparations....like replacing the brakes on the trailer.
Two weeks ago today, we ended our ten day run at the fairs. We started at the Knox County Fair and ended and the Ohio State Fair.
This year was different for us. Yes, some of the different was because of Covid changes, but most of the different was because we were all too aware that this was our first last.
This was Isaac's last year at the Knox County Fair and the last day of the Ohio State Fair marked his last "kid" activity before heading off to college.
There were a lot of kids that spent this year soaking up their "lasts", so there weren't many "no's" coming from us.
This weekend will mark the final time that Isaac moves animals into the Knox County Fair as a 4-H member.
Not so long ago, he was a nine year old arriving at the county fair for the very first time.
Oh, how things have changed since then.
It has now been two weeks since we started our journey out to Duncan, Oklahoma for the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association and Miniature Hereford Youth Foundation Miniature Hereford Junior Nationals.
We arrived to humid mid-nineties temperatures, but fortunately, the hottest days ended up being the day we unloaded and the day we loaded. The rest of the week was just about the best weather we could have asked for. It was still hot, but a couple of cloudy and rainy days helped to keep the temperatures and humidity bearable. Besides, the show ring and contest areas were all air conditioned, so if the heat got to be too much, we had plenty of places to escape. We did keep an eye on the radar (because we do have a kid terrified of tornadoes), but the few night time storms were fairly mild and most of the red cells stayed just outside our radars.
You know you had a good time when after 10 days no one in the family is ready to go home. Not only were we not ready to go home...but we were all ready to head right back to Oklahoma as soon as we did get home.
We all agreed, this was the best Junior Nationals and best cattle show we have ever been to. It was just plain fun!
Early Saturday morning we loaded the cows on the trailer and set off for Duncan, Oklahoma for the Miniature Hereford Junior Nationals sponsored by the Miniature Hereford Breeders Association and the Miniature Hereford Youth Foundation.
The 2020 Miniature Hereford Junior Nationals was cancelled due to Covid, so it is good to be headed back to the show ring.
It was going to be a long trip...and really hot, so at the last minute, we decided to hang over Saturday night in Buffalo, Missouri.
One of the great things about showing cattle is all the people you meet along the way. Two years ago, when we were in Oklahoma for the Junior Nationals, we met a family from Missouri, and it has been great to meet back up and grow our friendship. They graciously agreed to lend us some pasture space to keep our cattle overnight.
Farming is not an easy life. You spend most of your days at the mercy of the weather and have animals that can get sick at any moment. Our jobs are to be problem solvers and if you haven’t learned to be flexible, you are going to have an even rougher time.
It’s no secret that last year was a pretty rough year here on the farm. Just about everything that could break did (see here and here). We were pretty fortunate on the animal front and didn’t have an excessive amount of vet bills, but we always have enough to keep the checkbook on edge.
When we first got into Miniature Herefords, one of the goals was to build our herd to the point that we could sell a few animals each year and pay for our kid’s Christian school education. Every year about this time we file our taxes and ask ourselves why in the world we do this. We would be farther ahead to just pay the tuition and forget the farm.
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.