Last week we were able to travel to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the North American International Livestock Expo.
That may seem like an ordinary year for us...but this year has been far from ordinary.
After the National Western Stock Show was cancelled, we were pretty sure that NAILE would also be cancelled. However, the show was to go on.
We submitted our entries, ordered all the awards and made plans to head to Louisville. The closer we got to the show, the more the Covid numbers increased.
But, we were fortunate and the numbers in our state were low enough that we were still able to attend.
Not long after we arrived at the show, the rumors started flying that the show was going to be shut down. We had worked too hard and come too far to be shut down...again.
The first rumor was that the show was going to be shut down on Monday. Monday came and went...and no shut down.
Then the Governor was going to make a big announcement on Wednesday...one day before the end of the show. The NAILE office had a backup plan and said that if they had to, they would open all the arenas and run the shows until midnight to get us all through the ring. Fortunately, the shut downs weren't scheduled until Friday, so we had one more day to finish the show.
Through all the news, rumors and Covid changes, things back in the barn were pretty normal. It was good to be back around people, see old friends, meet new people and just feel normal.
Wednesday was the junior show. Isaac didn't have any animals entered in the junior show, so he kept himself busy with his Regional Ambassador duties and handed out the awards.
Walker showed Candy Cane. We just took her because we could...but we never really expected her to do much. We were just hoping for middle of the class.
Turns out we must not have been paying much attention to her in the barn.
She won her class...
And then went on to win Reserve Grand Champion Heifer in the junior show. We were not at all expecting that!
And yes...you now get a winning fist bump instead of a hand shake.
And Isaac got to hand his little brother a belt buckle.
Next up was showmanship and Isaac won second place in senior showmanship.
Walker won first place in intermediate showmanship.
We were then on a mission to get animals fed and back to the hotel as early as we could. Chase had driven through the night to come help and only had a couple hours of sleep. We needed him fresh and rested to get the bulls ready for the next day.
Thursday was the open show.
Daniel kept himself busy as one of the ringmen, making sure all the cows kept moving.
Once again, Candy Cane won her class and moved on to the final drive. She didn't win, but it is always an honor to line up with the best of the best.
Next up was the bull show.
This is where we put all our hopes and dreams. Smith and Wesson are two awesome bulls. Unfortunately, their show career has been disrupted because of Covid, and to be honest, we didn't know if they would ever get to show again.
Smith and Wesson spent the summer out in the field servicing our girls. Isaac and Walker have worked their tails off getting these two back in show ring condition. We really didn't know if we would be able to get them back to where we wanted them...but we did it.
Chase tagged along with us for the week and did an amazing job getting these guys dialed in. Show day is always interesting for our family. Since we run the show, mom and dad are stuck in the show ring and the boys are on their own back in the barns. Thankfully, we had three responsible teenagers who managed to get it all together and present some amazing looking animals in the show ring...and they even had their back numbers on.
Smith and Wesson are always in the same class since their birthdates are only one day apart. Show day just happened to be Smith's birthday.
These two have gone back and forth their entire show careers. Last year, Wesson won the class...but this year it was Smith that won.
Walker then got to experience the thrill of the Grand Champion fist bump. Just look at that smile.
4 Wiley Sir Smith won Grand Champion Bull at the North American International Livestock Expo!
Smith and Wesson then had to go back into the ring for the pair of bulls class.
I never tire of seeing these two animals and my two boys in the ring together.
I don't know that we will ever have another two animals that have been as much fun to show as Smith and Wesson. Who would have dreamed on those cold nights in the barn two years ago, where the journey would lead us?
In a year of so many disappointments, we had a week of unbelievable excitement and success.
The "Covid break" was good for all of us, but I was a little worried that the boys were struggling to get back into their groove.
I don't think we have to worry about that now.
The show fever is back!
We want to give a special thanks to the staff of the North American International Livestock Expo. They did not have an easy job this year. Covid made everything much more difficult and uncertain. They did an amazing job keeping us all safe while still allowing us to do what we love.
We made it through the show and back to Ohio before any more of the shut downs. We are back home, savoring the memories of an amazing week, catching up on laundry and rest, and preparing to transition back to remote schooling.
Thanksgiving is a few days away and we certainly have so much to be thankful for.
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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.