Since the 1880's cattlemen have been gathering in the stockyards of Denver, Colorado. There weren't really any organized activities until 1899, and 1906 marked the opening of the first official National Western Stock Show.
The National Western Stock Show is still the place to be 111 years later.
The Miniature Herefords move into the National Western for the last week of exhibitions. This year, there were over 400 entries for the Miniature Herefords, which made them one of the top 3 breeds represented.
Denver, Colorado is where the best of the best meet for head-to-head competitions that crown the best animals in the country.
Several years ago, we added showing at the National Western Stock Show to our bucket list. Our goal is to get the boys to Denver before they graduate. Isaac is only 4 years away from graduation so we have to pick up the pace on our plans.
Denver is very far away from Ohio. It is about a 24-hour drive with a trailer. I can honestly say that sitting in the back seat of a pickup truck with two boys for 24 hours is enough to make me want to cry.
The trip to the National Western is a huge undertaking. Between travel time, vacation time, gas, hotel and food costs, this is not a trip to be taken lightly or on a whim. Not to mention, you need some good cattle on that trailer.
We knew that we needed to take a survey trip before we ever loaded our trailer. We wanted to find out the lay of the land, see the show and just gather some info so that we weren't traveling blind.
We also wanted to know if we were out of our league. We have been to national and state shows, but Denver is a whole new level. Could we even compete? We don't expect to win, but would our cattle be at the bottom of the class? If so, would it be worth the trip just for the experience?
Daniel looked into flying out to Denver last year to watch the show, but it just wasn't the right time.
For the past year, all Isaac has talked about is flying to Denver with his Dad to see the show.
With Louisville in November and Christmas in December, a big trip out west just wasn't in the cards for January.
New Year's weekend.
Daniel was bored...
So he started looking around for plane tickets.
He found some really cheap plane tickets...and the plan started to take shape.
We decided to fly out Thursday, watch the show on Friday, do a little sightseeing on Saturday and fly home on Sunday.
Walker has never flown before and Isaac was only 18 months old when he was on a plane. This was a whole new experience for them and they could barely contain themselves.
We had an early morning flight, so I tried to get them to work on some homework while we were waiting at the airport.
That was a hopeless cause!
They were enthralled with all the action.
With the time change, we landed in Denver at 8:50 a.m. We had the whole day ahead of us.
We went straight to the stock show and headed for the barns to meet up with all of the Miniature Hereford breeders and check out all the animals.
We had orders from home to check out some of the bulls....and we were checking out some cows and bulls for ourselves.
Then we decided to hit up the trade show and stockyards.
All the bulls were gone, but we were able to see some buffalo, Lowlines and some Longhorns in the pens.
The stockyards are a historic part of the show.
Plans are under way to upgrade the grounds and buildings. Within the next 10 years, most of what we saw will be torn down and rebuilt. We are glad we were able to see these sights before all the new changes.
The stockyards have an overhead bridge that allows you to look out over the yards from above...and see the beautiful mountains in the background.
Daniel and Walker had to take a break and get their boots shined.
You've got to look good walking around!
Friday morning was the Miniature Hereford open show.
The other side of the ring was the Highland show.
They started the morning off with a bagpipe band.
The boys were not impressed.
Daniel was asked to be a ringman for the show.
It was an honor.
A few minutes after he agreed to be ringman, he realized he really just wanted to watch the show.
However, he did get a front and center view of all the animals.
The boys and I sat up in the stands and took detailed notes about all the cows. Daniel, got up close and personal.
The different points of view were very interesting.
There were times that I didn't agree with the judge, but then Daniel would see that the cow couldn't walk or wasn't as filled out, etc. All things that from the stands, we couldn't see.
Daniel was the man in front. He led all the cows in and lined them up in the right spot.
He walked a million miles that day.
This is Abbygail Pitstick with her Grand Champion heifer, TPCC Princess Nash 6611ET. Abby is from Ohio and we know her because she beat us at The Ohio State Fair.
It made us feel a little better that we lost to the Grand Champion at Denver.
She really is all that!
And he is still walking...
And his back was very happy when he got to sit down for lunch.
The boys were very disappointed that mom had rented the economy Kia, so the car rental lady felt sorry for them and upgraded us to a Dodge Charger.
I could care less what car we drive, but it made my men happy.
It did come in handy on the mountain roads.
Saturday morning, we got up early to go exploring.
The boys have never seen mountains before, and Daniel and I have only seen the mountains in the summer.
We headed to Estes Park.
There wasn't much snow that morning, but after we left more snow came in.
We drove up to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
This was as far up as we could drive.
We felt like the city slickers.
Everyone had snow shoes, skis and winter gear. They were all getting ready to blaze some trails.
We got out of the car in our cowboy boots and were slipping and sliding all over the icy parking lot. We went about 5 feet from the car to get these pictures and then promptly went back to our heated seats.
More breath-taking views from Rocky Mountain National Park.
The boys really wanted to see some elk while we were in the park.
We saw several cow elk way up on the mountainside, but it was hard to decipher between the rocks and the elk.
As soon as we left the gates of Rocky Mountain National Park, Daniel swerved to the side of the road.
This bull elk was about 5 feet from our car.
We rolled down the windows and the boys yelled and hollered at him...but he didn't even bat an eye.
Boring old elk!
We headed down some back roads and had lunch along the way. The boys got to experience the people and atmosphere of a small skiing town.
They were a little taken back.
lf you have ever been to one of those towns, you know what I mean.
Then we headed over to the Eisenhower Tunnel.
I think we clocked it at 1.8 miles long.
This is the view on the other side.
We headed towards Vail.
Then it clouded over and we hit snow.
It wasn't much snow... just made the roads wet... but it made us very nervous.
We don't know the mountains and I know that some of these storms can dump a lot of snow in just a short time.
Besides, we were in a rear wheel drive sports car.
We debated...but were so close, so we went on to Vail.
The skies cleared for a while and we were able to see all the ski slopes and all the skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers.
We got off the highway in Vail, went around a round-a-bout and got right back on the highway.
We had to get back to Denver for a banquet and that snow was scaring us.
The roads in Colorado (especially Denver) are just bizarre to these Ohio folks, but we got in the toll lane and made it back to Denver in record time.
I think Daniel was even scared...but we made it back in one piece.
Sunday was just airport day.
Once again, we tried homework...
But this kid is just crazy....
And did not shut his mouth...
The entire day!
We were all out of sorts because no one wanted to come home.
It was the perfect trip...but too short.
We sat in the airport and longingly looked back at those beautiful mountains.
Before we went to Denver, we had a plan for our farm.
What cows we were going to show next year, what bulls we wanted to breed to, what shows we were going to show at.
We came home from Denver without a plan.
I think things might change a lot around here...
In a good way.
Some of the things that we once thought were so important...
May not be all that important anymore.
We did learn that we could be really competitive in Denver.
It was so nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the show without all the work of having the cattle, but it was also really hard to not be participating. We watched the classes very closely that our cows would have been in, and we just might have done very well.
We could go to Denver....
We should go to Denver...
Someday, we will go to Denver.
Charity, Saxon and Amber should be in Denver next year.
Will it happen?
But now we have a goal.
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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.