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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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.