We had our county fair last week and as usual, it was a busy time for us. We are still in the hay fields but Kevin did a great job planning his mowing so he could mow the day prior to the livestock show and still be with the kids during the show. Both of our kids decided they wanted to show cattle again this year. They both chose to show a breeding heifer, this way they can breed the heifer this fall and hopefully it will result in a calf next September (2014). This allows our kids to start their own cow herd which they can be proud of.
Kevin grew up showing hogs at the county 4-H and FFA fair. Naturally this is what our kids wanted to show as well, they wanted to be just like dad! Once our kids were old enough to participate in the 4-H livestock show, they showed hogs and we all had a blast. The kids loved working with the hogs and so did I. Since hogs are not as big as cattle, I felt more secure knowing my nine year old child was still taller than the animal they were showing. (Just because I’m a farm mom doesn’t mean I don’t worry!)
Since we take bio-security so serious on our farm (bio-security means how clean we keep our farm and barns), we were unable to go back to work on our farm with our hogs for 72 hours after the hog show. Each hog herd has a different immunity built up and we didn’t want to track in new germs to our hogs and give them a setback due to illness. We prefer preventing problems on our farm rather than treating problems. The kids loved this 72 hour down time because it normally meant we would take a three day vacation! Kevin’s parents would take on the extra work load for us.
As our kids grew, they began to understand how difficult it was for us to show hogs at our county fair. One year it just wasn’t possible for us to take our hogs to the show due to our bio-security policy, the risk was just too high for us as there was rumored to be a disease on an area farm that raised hogs. RUMOR is the key word here, it turned out there was no problem and our kids would have been able to show. The kids were disappointed but they knew we couldn’t risk making our hogs sick for a livestock show. That’s when we decided to try letting the kids show cattle.
Like all kids who show livestock, our kids have spent many hours working with their cattle and they were excited about it. Their heifers didn’t seem to be as excited about learning to lead as the kids were about teaching the heifers to lead. They preferred going where they wanted on their own time-frame and they were more concerned about eating grass in the pasture than following a kid with a rope. And the first time Conner’s heifer received a bath, she was less than thrilled! Once she figured out what Conner was doing with the brush and shampoo though, she decided getting a bath wasn’t bad, which was good because she was getting them daily the week prior to the show.
The kids learn new things each year when they show their livestock. The lesson that hit home for both of the kids this year was even though your animal knows you, always remember they are an animal and they will act/react like an animal. When Conner was blow drying his heifer after her first bath, the blower hose spooked his heifer and she reacted by kicking her leg at Conner who was holding the hose. Conner received a kick to his knee cap which startled both the heifer and Conner. Conner was not hurt but it was a great reminder to him that when an animal feels threatened, they go into survival mode to protect themselves. Even though both of our kids know this, seeing it first-hand will help them remember how important it is to always be on guard when working with livestock.