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Every project begins with the same dream, but there’s only one way it’s even possible.

Every project starts with the same dream. We all want to win the big show, take home the banner and be the last one standing when the judge puts down the mic at the end of the day. While there’s no way to guarantee this dream will become a reality, there’s only one way it’s even possible. You have to have determination. Earlier today I was enjoying lunch out with my husband B.J. and was captivated by an ESPN feature on the television screen nearest our table. The show told the story of Carlos Correa, now a Major League Baseball player for the Houston Astros. Correa grew up in Puerto Rico in a family with few resources and, yet, was successful in his pursuit of baseball. He would rise early, focus on schoolwork, and practice diligently – every day. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him or his family and I’m confident many sacrifices were made, but his relentless determination resulted in him being the first overall pick of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. Determination is a drive to succeed – an unwavering desire to accomplish the goals you’ve set for your project. It is working intently to achieve your dreams regardless of the opposition you might encounter. We all know, over the course of your project, you’ll face lots of opposition. Your calf might go off feed, your pig might be stubborn while you’re training it for showmanship or you might be tempted to shortcut practice in the…

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The best kept secret in the show stock business

We all do it. Every single one of us. We look for a competitive edge, a new tip or trick that will take us to the next level, a top-secret solution to improve our game and give us an edge on show day. People spend a lot of time and effort searching for secrets, thinking if they had an inside track they could level up or even upend the competition. There’s one secret in the show stock business most people aren’t prepared to handle. Are you ready? Here it comes! There are no secrets. There is only knowledge, and the funny thing about knowledge is we all start in the same place. We all start with zero knowledge. It’s true. Even Kirk Stierwalt once knew nothing about cattle. Think about that for a second! Even the path to mastery starts at zero. So what does it take to attain knowledge and what do you do with it after you gain it? Knowledge comes from many sources. I think if you asked any of the Weaver Leather Livestock ProStaff, they would tell you that knowledge mostly comes from experience, repetition and lessons learned the hard way, but it also comes from a willingness to listen to those who already have the knowledge you need. Each of these men would admit they gained knowledge from the folks who came before them. Continuing the tradition of passing knowledge on to others is one of the big reasons they dedicate so much of their…

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Six Moms You Meet at a Stock Show

Thank God for Moms… the glue that holds everything and everyone together on show day! Where would we be without them? They truly are what makes the stock show world go ’round. Which stock show mom is in your family? Food Mom – Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks …she’s a shining star. She truly believes that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. She brings enough food to feed the entire barn and graciously welcomes any and all to stop in at their pens for a bite to eat. Her crock-pot game is strong and at any given point she may have several of them fired up keeping the family favorites warm and ready to eat on demand. Sloppy joes, cheesy potatoes, walking tacos…she’s got an excel spreadsheet to document any and all meals appropriate to take to a show. She’s a care taker through and through. Her motto: “You can’t be at your best in the show ring on an empty stomach”. Hair Mom – She’s high in demand on show day. The Mom who can do hair is truly an asset. She most likely invented the French braid. Curls, buns, the perfect pony tail and even the hair poof look are no match for her skills. Always prepared, her purse contains a mirror, bobby pins and extra hair ties. Just give her a brush and heck, if she doesn’t have hairspray, she’ll just do it with adhesive. Every little girl dreams of hitting the ring…

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Why you must empty the wheelbarrow tonight

We’ve all been there. It’s been a long day. School, then practice, then chores and now it’s late. The sun has gone down and you’ve just finished in the barn for the night. Except there’s still that one lingering task. The wheelbarrow you filled today is still sitting by the door. It needs to be emptied. You know it should be emptied, but you are tired, you tell yourself. Plus there’s homework to be done. It can surely wait until the morning. And it could. It could wait until morning. It could wait until you’ve come to the barn to start the next day’s tasks. Now that you mention it, those record books you’ve been meaning to keep up could wait until next week.The project you’ve committed to helping with for your 4-H club or FFA chapter could wait until next month. There are so many things the you could push back to a later date, and just think of all the time and energy you’d save right now! But can they really wait? Your favorite running back doesn’t stop a few yards short of the goal line. Leaders know the ability to deliver results puts you on the path to success, and delivering results means not leaving work unfinished. So often we let things go that would only take us a few minutes to complete. We justify it to ourselves in the name of saving time or effort in the short run. Without fail, the time you don’t spend…

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“I Never Would Have Made it This Far on My Own”

“And I hope they know I never would’ve made it this far on my own. Where would we all be without those fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, the friend’s we’ve made? I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for those I’ve loved along the way.” – Eric Church This screamed out to my stock show family. I was driving to a lamb sale the other day and was in tears from hearing these words. You know how people say, “It takes a village to raise a child“? Well it definitely takes an army to raise a stock show kid! Think about it… Could you have made it this far in your show career without that support system you have? I can guarantee you couldn’t have done it on your own. I know the success that I had while being in 4-H directly reflected the numerous people I relied on to help me, support me, encourage me, and above all, love me. Showing livestock is truly a family sport. You may not be related by blood, but a common bond and a common goal can be just as strong. Think of those who helped you before you had success, when it was just a dream that seemed too good to be true. The people who not only believe in your dreams and aspirations, but those who took an active role in helping you achieve them should be thanked and appreciated. I know I didn’t always think of that at…

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Influence: How you can change the world

Maybe you don’t think it’s possible, but whether you realize it or not, we all have an influence on the world. Influence is your ability to affect change in the world around you and the truth is that you affect change whether or not you’re even trying. You are already exerting influence. You do make a difference. What kind of difference do you make? What kind of influence do you have? Is it positive? Or something else? Do you encourage your friends to skip practice or do you encourage them to practice harder? Do you stand idly by while someone gets teased or do you step in and say something?  Do you speak poorly of others when you don’t place very high at the show or do you demonstrate a positive attitude? Even when you’re not directly interacting with someone, you can still influence them. Your behaviors and attitudes are often observed by younger exhibitors, younger players, and younger students. What kind of influence do you have with them? No matter what you do, or don’t do, you are influencing the world around you. What happens to your team when you skip practice? You get out of sync and you hold your hard-working teammates back. However, when you encourage your teammates to practice harder, everyone gets better and the team moves forward in a positive direction. Each scenario plays out the same way. Your actions hold influence. Every choice you make influences the world.  If you could change the world around you,…

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When I Say, “I Miss Showing Livestock”…

…here’s what I really mean.   When your show career is finally over, there will be so many things that you miss at first. Reality pretty much sinks in the first time you head out to the barn to feed, water and work with your animal… but the barn is empty. Here is where you spend those early mornings and late nights. It’s where your lambs would greet you as you approached the gate. The barn is special, but it’s certainly not the only place you’ll miss. As time goes on, you find that you miss the things that you might have taken for granted.   1. The Rush There’s no feeling quite like entering the ring. The pressure is on and it’s show time! I think as you grow up that feeling is rarely found and it is one that you should hold on to and enjoy each time you step into the ring. 2. The Road Trips Spending January and February on the road searching for the “Great One”. So many memories are made on the road! 3. Your Animals It’s hard not to miss your animals. I’ve spent more time in the barn with my animals over the summer than with any one of my friends. 4. The People You will miss the time with the people that you care about and bonded with over a shared passion of showing and raising livestock.   5. Sharing Goals You will miss sharing the goals of success with your…

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They just don’t get it and that’s O.K.

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. You’re at the county fair, hanging out with your friends on the show box. The sounds of the midway and the smell of deep-fried everything fill the air. There are people everywhere. A stranger walks up and begins to ask you questions about your animal. “What’s his name?” “What does he eat?” “Where do you keep him?” The strangers questions seem endless. “How could anyone go through life and know so little about animals?” You wonder. Now, imagine the moment the stranger leaves. Did you and your friends giggle about how uninformed the stranger was or did they give you props for advocating about agriculture? Youth livestock shows are one to the best ways to spread a positive message about animal agriculture. As a part of the show community, you’re part of the livestock industry family. Even if you don’t live on a farm yourself, you know this family. They’re the ones whose names are on your awards, whose banners are hanging around the show ring and whose businesses sponsored the mulch and the buildings in which you’re showing. They support you, and as a part of the family, you have a job to do. Talk to that stranger and be proud of your project. Answer all of their questions about animals, no matter how long it takes, and always be loving and factual. Take it farther than the county fair. Share your story on social media, tell your friends why raising animals makes a…

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Everyone has a publicist

Last month, I was LIVE on Periscope and Facebook for the first time. I don’t know that the content was all that awesome, but what is awesome is the ability to live broadcast to anyone from anywhere, all with the phone in my pocket. When I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, the biggest publicity I got was my name in the local newspaper for a county 4-H judging award, that week’s track meet, or maybe an FFA event. I bet I still have all those old newspaper clippings somewhere, probably in a scrapbook in the closet of my childhood bedroom. (Sorry, Mom! I promise I’ll get that cleared out someday!) When I met someone outside my local community, that first impression in real life really was a FIRST impression – my reputation had not preceded me and there was little chance they knew who I was or anything about me, just as I likely knew very little about them. But today? Well today, everyone has a publicist. Statements are made by your publicist, photos and videos are shared by your publicist and media interactions are arranged by your publicist. Maybe it’s a silly analogy, but your publicist is, obviously, you. In today’s online environment, you can make public statements, share personal photos and videos, and interact with public figures and the media. And maybe the analogy is silly, but I love to use that perspective because it reminds me to consider my personal brand every time I…

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12 Struggles Every Online Sale Buyer Can Relate To

1. Your entire evening revolves around the goal of putting the kids to bed before the sale starts to wrap up at 8:00 PM… And if it doesn’t get done, the kids stay up late enough that you can almost guarantee a note coming home from the teacher or a call from the principal the next day. 2. It’s kind of like a game of chess (although I don’t play chess so I’m really just assuming) Wikipedia.org calls chess a mind sport that includes calculated strategies as well as caution to not make moves too hastily and foresight to look into the future and consider the consequences of our action… all true of an online sale buyer, right!? 3. Watching the sale on your “mobile” phone certainly does not mean you’re capable of being mobile… You’d think that, since these sales can be watched on your phone, that life would go on even in the midst of a sale. Nope, not at our house… the typical protocol is to be in the house, phone in hand, 3 inches or less distance between your face and the screen, the entire time. 4. The longest 5 minutes of your life The dreaded refresh… this kind of feels like a time-out for adults. You know the one, the kid forced to sit on a chair in the corner of the room with his head down, agonizing over the time that just doesn’t seem to pass and feels like an eternity 5. When there’s…

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