• General

    Knowledge in Heartbreak

    The beginning of the show season is always an exciting time for stock show kids and families. You buy an animal and immediately envision a bright future with them; the opportunities for buckles and banners are endless. It’s rare that anyone takes the time to stop and think about the uncertainty of raising livestock, the “what if’s”. At the beginning of the year, I bought a sheep that caught my eye from the moment I saw him. He was everything you wanted in a show sheep; built with all the right parts and the perfect personality to match. I had high, high hopes for him at our state fair, and…

  • General

    My Best Advice

    Whether you are brand new at exhibiting livestock or 3rd generation, my best advice is still the same, “Go!” If you truly want to be successful, you have got to get out, meet people and get to know them. The best way to do this is to go to shows and sales, talk with breeders and exhibitors, and actively participate. Go to every show and sale that you can. The more places you go, the more people you meet, and the more friends you make. At the end of the day, the friendships that you build are the most important. The friendships are lifelong, they are people who will always…

  • General

    Step Up, Step Back

    As I headed back to college, I had the privilege of attending a couple workshops for a campus organization that I am a part of. This organization is based upon community service, but also gives students a chance to step out of their shells and take risks. During one of the collaborative group exercises, we were encouraged to “step up and step out.” The quote threw me off at first. What the heck is that even supposed to mean? They explained that there are two types of people in this world. There are the go getters; when someone asks a question, they’re the first to answer it. When someone asks…

  • General

    7 Stages of a Stock Show

    A livestock show can elicit a variety of emotions. For a family, a crew, a group of friends or an individual it may seem like a roller coaster of feelings. If we take a closer look there seems to be a pattern to these emotional responses to showing – unscientifically, of course. Stage 1 – Excitement It’s time to show! You’ve been preparing in the barn at home. Working hair, feeding, adding supplements. You’ve checked and rechecked the show box. You’ve loaded the trailer taking on the complicated process of making everything fit like a real-life game of Tetris and you’re the champ! Bags are packed. Boots are polished. Belts…

  • General

    My Favorite Show

    Many exhibitors have at least one favorite show they attend each year. For me, my favorite show isn’t even one in which my family has ever exhibited. My favorite week of the entire year is the McDonough County 4-H Fair in Macomb, Illinois. From the general projects and the 4-H staff to the livestock shows and parents, this show seems to blow my socks off every year! The general project division is huge! Almost every livestock kid has at least one general project. When I was in 4-H, I signed up for project after project after project, but it wasn’t until I was nearing the end of my career that…

  • General

    Life Lessons from the Washrack

    The wash rack. It can be dirty, slippery and most of the time crowded. Have you ever thought of it as a place to learn? The things you learn in the wash rack can help you in the ring and maybe even in life. Overspray Happens – We all have made that mistake or had it made to us. Yes it can be annoying, but it’s just water so deal with it. Let the Kids do it – It is easy for me to just grab the brush and take charge of the situation. I think it is better to let the kid look for the areas that need attention…

  • General

    Comparison is the Death of Joy

    Recently, I attended the sheep show at California State Fair. Being a true sheep girl at heart, I had no problem sitting in the sweltering heat from 8 AM when the show started, to 3 PM when the last animals were picked for the FFA Final Drive. Since I am no longer an exhibitor, I see everything in a much different perspective now. And one thing I couldn’t help but notice was the alarming amount of kids who weren’t focused on themselves. As soon as they would hit the ring, their eyes weren’t on the judge or on their own animals. Their eyes wandered to every other sheep, scoping out…

  • General

    Shake Hands

    A few weeks ago, I was judging a small, local jackpot show. I had just finished sorting a pretty large class and my brain was a little on the fried side. I had finished giving my reasons and the two exhibitors that had first and second came up and shook my hand. Not really a surprise, since multiple exhibitors earlier in the day came up and shook my hand. That seemed to have started a wave of handshakes. Kids throughout the class (mainly those who were in the top end) came and shook my hand. Then I got a little surprise, the young man whose goat I placed last came…

  • General

    School Excuse Letter

    Stock show kids are some of the most intelligent, hardest working kids around. This comes through in everything they do: in the show ring, sports, in the classroom. Sometimes, though, they need to miss school to go to the show. If you’ve ever struggled with explaining to teachers or principals the importance of showing livestock, if you couldn’t find the words to tell them how much the stock show kid learns from their livestock projects, here is the answer: The Stock Show Kid School Excuse Letter.   Dear Teacher/Principal/School Administrator, Please excuse (insert child’s name) from school tomorrow. He/She will be participating in the (insert livestock show). We are fortunate…

  • General,  Leadership,  Stock Show Life

    4 Principles to Step up Your Showmanship

    Recently, I helped with a Master Showmanship clinic for cattle, sheep, and hogs. As I prepared for this event, I came up with 4 principles across the board to step up your game. Showmanship is more than how you brace or how you hold a halter, it’s about your ability to present an animal in the most effective way possible. These 4 principles, once mastered, will help you step up your showmanship to the next level. Intensity. This is one of the more difficult principles to master. Intensity is about being focused on the actions you’re taking and making sure there is purpose in each of them. Being in the…