It’s been a busy summer for sure, one that has included a few concerts, bbq’s, quick trips to here and there, county fairs and livestock auctions. While they are all so much fun, I have to say one of my favorites are always the county fairs and the junior livestock auctions with those fairs. Why you ask? Well first– the FOOD! Fair food every once in a while is much needed, obviously. I mean, when else in the year is it ok to scarf down fried apple slices slathered in caramel, sugar and whipped cream? Yuummm!!
More than the delicious fair food, I always enjoy walking the barns with my guy. Yes, I know, I’m very much a city girl and whether it’s in my bow tie flats or boots, I really love walking through the barns! Every year I probably ask him the same questions or have him point out to me what makes an animal look more finished than another. All stuff that you’d think I should know already. But, he doesn’t mind or get embarrassed that I have to ask again. He’s always happy to answer my sometimes silly questions! We always run into about 20 people that Jace knows and we get to catch up. It really can be like a reunion at the barns and I love it! Besides that, the biggest reason why we love walking the barns is because we like to see what all the hardworking students have spent the past several months working on. Each year I learn a little bit more as I watch the steer show or the hog show, whether its a market show or showmanship. One of these days (hopefully by the time we have kids!) I’ll get it all and it will all click! I also like walking with my nephews through the barns. This past weekend at Benton Co. Fair Toby told me about wanting to show a steer when he’s old enough. Thattaaa guuyyyy! Uncle J will be so proud! Haha!
The time that the students spent with their project animals accumulates to countless hours. The blood, sweat, tears and love they put into them is considerable. Showing an animal, learning all about it, training it and learning to feed properly is not easy. So, to see them get in a show ring, many of them for the first time, lead their animal around while answering showmanship questions and place accordingly, it brings a feeling of accomplishment for them. As with anything or like any sport, some are disappointed and know what they need to do to improve for the next year while others are relishing in their big win. It’s such a great, fulfilling experience for kids to show an animal. The things they learn and the responsibility they have at such a young age is admirable. I can see why for some it is not easy to sell their animal at the culminating junior livestock auction. The bond they’ve created comes to an end, but the memories made over the past several months hold strong. Then, onto the next project animal that will steal their heart once more.
While we don’t have our own kids that are participating in showing an animal at county fair or a jackpot show, we did have a few students showing some of the animals we bred this year. As much as it can be nerve wracking for the students, it can also be nerve wracking for us! As someone who has bred an animal, you want the student who’s showing them to learn, do the best they can and to do well.
With us being so new to working with 4H and FFA Students on project animals it was a good learning year for us. While we had three students show animals we (Jace) bred, there is so much to learn, tweak and change for the coming years. I just had a nice talk with a brilliant gal who is well versed in show cattle today who reminded me that doing well in anything, even raising cattle takes practice. It takes figuring your program out, trying new things and deciding what’s best for your herd. Such a great thing to take away from this county fair season as we look to the future on how to make improvements. Just like the students who know what they need to do to prepare for next year, so do we. Jace and I hope to build what we have going into something bigger than what we have now. And with that will come frustration, excitement, lots of work and taking some risks. The students work so hard for that end goal and so will we. But most importantly, we want to be there to help the students. Jace has always been passionate about spreading his love of livestock and this is one avenue where we will be able to help them and give back to ag youth.
Like those students who do this for the love of showin’, we will do this for the love of livestock, giving back and helping to guide those kids. We hope to see you at fair next year!