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A Mom's Observations From The Show Box At A Cattle Event

I have been in somewhat of a “suspended reality” this past week, as we packed up the pickup and trailer with four kids, two bulls, and one steer and headed west to the National Junior Limousin Show and Congress in Rapid City, South Dakota.

While the world kept spinning back at the ranch, our world for the week quickly became washing calves, getting kids ready to compete, showing, speaking contests, a dance and awards banquet, and plenty of tine as a family making memories and meeting new friends.

Exhausted is an understatement as we wrap up the week, but it’s the good kind of exhausted — where as a parent you know you’ve invested time, money, and energy into something that will help your kids in the future, no matter where life takes them.

This week, I’ve watched my own kids, as well as others, overcome big obstacles, reach for their goals, try new things, be challenged in unique ways, compete under pressure, rise to the occasion, develop professional leadership skills, and so much more.

And through it all, what I’ve also noticed is the level of dedication and devotion from the volunteers, sponsors, parents, and grandparents. There’s a shared understanding that these kids are our future, and pouring into them in this way is much more than handing out banners at a cattle show. It’s making sure our young people are ready and prepared to face the world and all of it’s struggles, with their chins up, shoulders squared back, and the confidence of kids who have tackled hard things and learned to achieve with excellence.

What do I mean by all of this? Well, let me share a few examples from my own kids and their experience at their first national show.

Our daughter, Scarlett, has struggled with her fall-born bull calf all summer. They just couldn’t get in sync with each other, and there were many tears in the barn during leading lessons. Scarlett wasn’t even sure she would be able to show her bull. After a few bumps in the wash rack and a constant battle to try and get him set up at home, her confidence had really faded in preparation for this show.

But come show day, something really magical happened. She dried her tears. She faced her fears. Our only goal was for her to hang onto the bull and be tough in the ring. And to our great surprise — Scarlett and her bull, Kamoflauge, found their groove in the show ring. She was able to set him up like a champion, and together, they took home some hardware. 

As a mom, the exciting part wasn’t winning a piece of the bull show; I was much more excited to see my daughter gain confidence and overcome some fears to achieve a goal she had set with her bull.

For our son, Thorne, this was his first time in the ring ever, and at 7-years old, his fall-born bull towers over him. I was nervous, to say the least, and perhaps, Thorne felt it, too. Two minutes before he was slated to enter the ring, he was crying under the bleachers. We had a quick pep talk, and I told him, “I don’t care what the judge says, but I know you’re super proud of this bull. There are potential bull customers in the stands watching, so can you go show them how great your bull is out there?”

He puffed up his chest, grabbed the halter, and went out and did this thing! It was a cool moment to watch, and even better was the hugs and high fives that all of the parents gave him as he exited the ring. 

For us, showing cattle isn’t about the winning (although that is fun when it happens); it’s about developing our kids to become strong leaders who aren’t afraid to face their fears and do new and hard things.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it 1,000 times more — there is no better setting to raise kids in than in agriculture. I think our cattle are raising our kids, and it’s a lifestyle I’m so blessed to be a part of. 

If the strains of production agriculture get to you at times, look at it with a renewed perspective of the intangible benefits that this life provides our families. It’s a chance to raise the next generation in a way that very few get to experience, and what a joy and blessing it is, indeed!

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