Livestock Show Complete: A Reflection

Greetings Everyone!

I know, I suck! I just looked and the last time I wrote a full length blog was in June. I broke a major promise to myself saying that I was going to write a blog per week in 2020. Chalk another thing up to not going as expected in 2020.

With that being said, I have not been sitting on the couch eating Oreos and watching “Days of Our Lives” (Is that still on?). In the month of June we put up 1000 round bales, got a lamb and steer show ready, and I recorded half a dozen podcasts. I also managed to take Keri on a few dates now that the Four Way is open. I hope to be back at it in the coming months, making writing a priority.

If you paid attention to my and Keri’s social media over the past week, you would know that our boys completed the Crawford County Youth in Ag Show & Sale. This was the replacement for our annual Crawford County Fair that got the corona ax. It was a great event that will surely live on in our kids’ memories.

The fair animals out on our driveway late one night 😂

But first, lets talk about the road that had to be taken to get here. I posted on Facebook a while back about the county fairs and the uncertainty that I found within myself. When the first coronavirus cancellations hit, I originally thought it would be something that would last throughout April and possibly May and we would be back to normal life once summer hit. Obviously I was wrong.

We got the notice that our county fair was cancelled sometime in June. So we were very unsure about what to do regarding our show animals. We had 6 (yes SIX!!) fair animals this year (2 steers, 2 heifers, 1 lamb, 1 goat). Fair week is like a break in life for us. A very hot, exhausting, emotional break in life. On a normal year, I take most of the week off of work and the 6 of us stay in a camper at the fairgrounds. The boys don’t have a bedtime and they get to spend countless time with their animals and their friends. We eat a lot of junk food, drink a lot of soda, and live a life we normally don’t get to.

So you can imagine the disappointment our family (well the boys and I) had when fair week was not going to look the same as normal. But shortly after the cancellation notice, we found out that our local sale barn Interstate Regional Stockyards was graciously going to provide us their facilities to hold our livestock shows.

So the fair, although not in its traditonal sense, was going to be able to go on. Now 2 of our boys were unable to show. Due to the circumstances, only market animals were allowed to show. So only Cooper and Levi were able to show their lamb and steer respectively. Carter, our true cowboy, was not going to be able to show his heifer and Boone unable to show his goat. (More on Carter later).

The show was abbreviated to Friday and Saturday at the stockyards. Cooper showed his lamb first and Levi showed his steer later in the evening. Although no awards were won this year, we were thankful that the boys were given the opportunity to showcase their projects.

Saturday, the boys both sold their animals. This is probably my favorite thing about the County Fair is the livestock sale. It’s a chance for a community to come together to support a common cause, youth in agriculture. I’m so thankful for the local businesses that come out to support this sale and make it one of the yearly highlights in the community. I’m especially thankful for businesses owned by family members who purchased Cooper and Levi’s animals. (Thanks Cousin Michelle and Uncle Jeff).

Uncle Jeff (Archer-Elgin) bought Levi’s steer
Cousin Michele (Michelle Beckett State Farm) bought Coop’s lamb. Thanks guys!! We love you !!

I said I would talk about Carter and his experience. Again, if you follow on Instagram and Facebook, I told this story earlier this week. Carter was of course disappointed that he would be unable to show an animal this year. We gave him the choice at the beginning of the year to show a lamb he could sell or show a heifer he would keep to raise calves out of. (He’s only 9 and 4-H members must be 10 years old to sell a steer at our fair. Not that he couldn’t handle a steer, but those are the rules). Well with the event only allowing market animals this year, Carter was left out of the show.

Keri and I had some long talks with Carter and he lead himself to the conclusion that it was ok he couldn’t show because he could keep his heifer, Bonnie, and could raise calves out of her. That was more important to him anyway… a true cattleman! Well Friday morning, when we went out to the barn to start getting the show animals ready, we had a wonderful surprise when we saw Carter’s 2019 heifer, Smokey, had her calf just minutes before we walked to barn. A black, blazed face bull calf that Carter named Pirate.

Smokey and her new calf seconds after it was born! Right after this picture she started licking and loving her calf. Maternal instincts are excellent with her! Calf stood about 5 minutes after this pic was taken!!

I’ve spoken before that I do not believe in coincidences. It was not by luck that Carter’s heifer had her first calf on show day. I believe that this was a part of God’s plan all along. I believe that God rewards us for our patience. He gives us non-ideal situations and tests our faith. When we respond correctly, we are rewarded. Carter was presented with a non-ideal situation, responded faithfully and optimistically, and was thus rewarded for his patience.

This year, although wildly different from most years, was a success for our kids and their show animals. Some takeaways for me are as follows

  • It’s ok to be different. So many folks at the shows put an emphasis on “show cattle” or “club calves.” We choose not to do that and instead highlight our own genetics at the fair with our cattle. We take pride in the fleshing and growth capability as well as the profitability of our steers. Now this often times means we do not place as well as we would like in the on foot shows at the fair. But we take pride in our commitment to use our own calves from our cowherd. I’ve always give Levi the choice between a shoe steer and a steer off our own cowherd and he chooses steer from cowherd every time
  • We love show lambs. The jump from year 1 to year 2 in the show lamb world was huge for us. We learned so much year 1 and were able to put so much of that to use in year 2. We selected better genetics, found a breeder we liked and trusted, and learned how to best care for the lamb. We had a lamb that was as gentle as a dog. Cooper broke and lead the lamb all by himself with very minimal help from Mom and Dad. I told the kids that I would not be upset if every one of them decided to only show lambs.
  • I always have and I still love our community. Our community, just like any other, has been rocked by the coronavirus. But that did not stop them from showing up and supporting our kids. I am so proud of them and proud to be a part. Keri and I both said this year that we are excited for the season in our life when we can be supporters… but for now we will enjoy being contributors.
Levi’s Division 5 weight class. Steers in this class weighed between 1225 and 1260 lbs.
Coopers lamb Noah while we were fitting him for the show. He might have been a little overconditioned but he still looked very nice
Coop showing Noah with Mom and Nana in the background. Coop wasn’t quite ready to show without a halter yet but that’s his number one goal for next year!!

Photo: Riley Spurgeon

Do you have a county fair experience? How has coronavirus affected your county fair? What measures have you taken to ensure the kids have the best experience possible? Let us know in the comments or on our social media pages.

Thanks for taking the time to read today. Stay tuned for some really exciting things coming up for Ag State of Mind. I truly appreciate your support!!

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