Stock show kids. A special kind of kid indeed. Kids that learn hard work and determination. Kids who make friends from all over the country. Kids who, when they speak, can make their parents swell with pride or turn bright red with embarrassment. Yep, those stock show kids say the darndest things.
“Who are we eating?” A valid question from any stock show kid who has ever shown a market animal. Yes, that juicy hunk of beef or tasty tenderloin on the kid’s plate was once their beloved steer or barrow. Yet they have accepted the animal’s purpose and are thankful, be it curious, about which animal is so delicious.
“Sir, he’s got legs…” A statement made by an exasperated young lady whose steer had been particularly fidgety in the show ring. An answer to the judge’s question, “Does he kick?”
“There’s just a little blood on it.” This phrase was uttered by a young showman in 2nd grade. Before school he and his dad had helped his former show ewe deliver her first lambs. Walking the kid into school his mom noticed he had not changed out of his barn coat. The stock show kid didn’t think a little blood and placenta on his jacket was a big deal.
“C’mon girl, please just do this for me.” It’s always entertaining to hear what youth showmen are saying to their animals in the show ring. From a distance it looks like the kid is whispering sweet nothings. Closer to the pair, one might hear anything from a complicated series of tongue clicks and shhh’s to various, “You’re fine. We’re doing good”, to “Please just move that foot back, just a little”, or “You better straighten up! The judge is looking right at us!”.
“A heifer is a cow that hasn’t had a baby. A steer is a…” Nothing can strike dread in a stock show parent’s core like the phrase “Guess what your child shared with the class today.” A seven-year-old stock show kid can explain to their class everything they need to know about the different processes of castration. In detail. Graphic detail. Which sometimes results in a phone call from the teacher. It’s best to look at it as a knowledgeable producer educating their consumers.
“That smells better than Nana’s perfume.” Declared by a stock show kid after their heifer had been sprayed with Pro Pink.
“This is the show where…” At any given fairgrounds or show ring the stock show kid begins recalling what happened at this show in the past. “This is the place my heifer stepped on me and broke my little toe.” “This is the place the judge took a bathroom break every other class.” “This is the show that Isaac got stuck upside down between the show box and the side of the trailer.” Every show has a set of memories attached to it.
“Are We There Yet?” So maybe this one is not just stock show kids. It never fails if the show is 15 minutes down the road or an all-day drive the back seat of the truck always has a chorus of “Are we there yets.”
“I can’t. I have a show.” Birthday parties, school dances, ballgames and sleep overs. The stock show kid will inevitably miss some type of social gathering because they are showing livestock. There will be some initial disappoint. Some wondering about what is going on back home. Until the kid is at the show, working with their animal, accepting ribbons and banners, running around with their stock show friends. Then the stock show kid realizes they really didn’t miss out.
“I feel sorry for kids who don’t show.” This was overheard at a lamb show. Stock show kids had been showing, playing, and showing and playing. For two days they had been to dinner together, swam in hotel pools and made their presence known at the regional fairgrounds. They a blast. This one phrase spoke volumes about the reason. The “why” of showing livestock. And when the wise child spoke these words all the stock show kids and all the stock show parents agreed.
Kelly and her husband, Chad, raise cattle, sheep and two children in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Their kids are the 4th generation to grow up on the farm and show livestock. Some of the family’s very best days happen in the show barn. Some of their most contentious days happen there too. Kelly believes that a kid will build life-long friends showing livestock. After all, she is the girl who married the boy she met in the show ring. She loves educating children, especially about agriculture. She believes that even if a kid won’t grow up to work in agriculture the kid still needs to grow up to be a knowledgeable consumer. Oh, and that ranch dressing should be considered a food group.