• General

    The Power of the Blue Corduroy

    Saturday, October 27th was my last time in my FFA jacket. That morning I woke up a little earlier. I took a little more time to curl my hair and do my makeup. I slid my nylons on with a little more care. I zipped up my jacket a little slower than usual, admiring the pins I had collected over the years, the small spot of sheep slobber on the left sleeve, and the little piece of stitching in my name that had started to come loose. I stood in the mirror and stared at myself in my jacket for a long time, reminiscing on the accomplishments and memories made…

  • General

    Lemons and Life

    Something hit me the other day as I was driving down the road that made me really think. Someone on the radio was talking about what else you could make with the lemons life gives you, like desserts or cookies. I realized that my first thought about those lemons wasn’t to bake with them, it was to throw them right back at life. This startled me a little because I’m not typically an aggressive guy (and my aim sucks), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I agreed with myself. Here’s why: Lemons represent the “bad” things that happen to you. Sometimes life gives you…

  • General

    What Not to Do During Sale Season

    It’s an exciting time for producers of all ages. It’s the start of another chance for the purple and hopefully, an investment in the future of your herd. For some though, the excitement is so intense that they neglect to really contemplate the decision they are about to make. Depending on your current situation, the cattle may look different but there are always certain things NOT to do when looking for the next purchase. That’s why I’ve compiled just a few of the most important mistakes to avoid. Do NOT shop quietly Ever hear the phrase, “The wheel that squeaks the loudest is the one that gets the grease?” Making…

  • 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…