We’ve all been stuck at home and, honestly, I have been so fortunate with living on the farm since my apartment lease was up. I have not only saved money, but I have also had the blessing that I sometimes called a curse growing up; There’s always something to do!
Whether we were handling the irrigation, cutting, raking, baling, or hauling of the hay fields, weeding, planting, and harvesting of the large garden, canning or preserving all sorts of future-meal goodies, caring for the chickens, dogs, and horses, or any other landslide of chores required to keep your farm afloat and looking good – there was always something to do. The ability to go ride a horse, a stroll through the woods with Phoebe the Pandemic Puppy, or any other manner of craziness is such a blessing!
I had heard, in casual comments, outright statements and whispers here and there on social media and in-person that the younger generation, especially those living in urban settings, were having a really hard time with COVID. Most schools are virtual, there’s no sports, no anything really and they’re stuck at home with parents suffering from high stress levels as their jobs continue to fluctuate between federal and state requirements and loss of economy. It hadn’t occurred to me just how bad it had gotten until I heard, “You have no idea how much better life got when that steer showed up,” from a parent.
It was in reference to a 4-H calf, picked up a few weeks early in the hopes of attending a blow-and-go show in Central Oregon. As the calf was freshly weaned and not too sure about his new surroundings, our fearless 4-H kid did everything she could to make the show a possibility for her, blowing even my own expectations with her animal! Every day, for about 90 minutes a day, she would read aloud to her Angus calf named Boogie. Boogie got to learn all about the Big Friendly Giant and the adventures of the dreams they deliver, but he also got to become best friends with his future show-woman.
Our other 4-H young adult had to (not-so) patiently await to pick up her new calf at the show as he had been purchased out of Madras. The joy on her face when he was unloaded from the trailer gave similar sentiments to the comment made by the other parent: These animals mean A LOT during these times.
With the entire fair moving virtual last year, the two kids that we were helping joined the ranks of many young showmen who have yet to compete in an actual show. The virtual show had benefits, allowing them more forgiveness in practice with clipping, fitting and showing. But it also took away from the camaraderie and memories that you can make at your county fair.
We were excited to be an aisle way with another group of young 4-H members from our county, plus a mom and dad with a lot more experience in cattle than I personally do! Between them and my boyfriend, they were all over the place – fixing hair on both calf and human, brushing off sawdust on legs, and making sure that everyone was ready to go right when they were called.
This show was specifically a “blow-and-go” show meaning that no adhesive was allowed. As the weather was a whopping 9 degrees Fahrenheit when we got started that morning, the kids (and I) also learned about fogging animals when it’s too cold to show! The fogging system uses alcohol which obviously doesn’t freeze to help keep them clean.
We met new friends, saw old friends, ate warm food, drank lots of hot cocoa and got to FINALLY be at a jackpot show!
Personally, I was so happy to be back! I felt a sense of smug satisfaction that I was “back in the game” albeit I am not. One decade ago exactly in August of 2010 I showed in my last show at my county fair. I was a senior in high school, looking at a college scholarship to play basketball, and didn’t have a hint of a future in the cattle industry besides an immense passion with no place to put that direction. A 4-H parents in my club approached me after auction and asked if they could purchase my Sullivan Supply fitting chute and blower.
I politely told them no.
I have no idea to be honest! I had no reason to keep it but I felt that if I let those two major expenses go than I was limiting myself from getting those future female cows that I had so badly wanted all through my high school showing career.
The day after the show, I picked up the first of my two heifers that make my first herd of cattle. As you can see, I feel pretty good that I had the foresight and confidence in my ability that, no matter WHEN it happened – I was going make it happen. It wasn’t a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN.