Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday Memory: My Last Livestock Show

My brother and sister and I all showed livestock in 4-H and FFA. Usually we competed in 3 shows per year and showed beef cattle, sheep, or pigs. The last summer I showed was the summer before I left for college. As the schedule turned out, my very last show was the day before I needed to report for freshman orientation. My parents knew we'd be cutting it close, but decided to let me show anyway.
(My last show was the only one where all three of us, me, Kasey, and Jen, were in the same class. I think our steers weighed in within 20 pounds of each other, making this photograph possible.)

For this show, not only did I need to have my steer as ready as possible, I needed to have my mom's car packed with everything I needed for college. I remember the day before the show alternating between packing the cattle show tack box and packing boxes with dorm supplies. I'm sure my little brother and sister got stuck with most of the show prep work as my mind was more in college-land and less in livestock-land that day.

The Pendleton Junior Livestock Show is a single-day event. All animals are judged, and kids' showing abilities are judged on the same day, and that evening is the livestock auction. Other shows spread all these events out over three or four days, so this single day is long and exhausting. My steer placed near the middle of his market class, but I had my best showmanship day ever. Apparently being nervous about college made me less nervous about showing and I did really well, winning the senior division and (finally, finally, finally) winning Grand Champion Steer Showman. Even though it turned a long day into an even longer one, I was grateful and relieved to finally have reached a goal I'd wanted since my first show as a freshman.

My celebration couldn't last long though. After my steer was auctioned off and led onto the livestock trailer, my mom and I had to leave in order to get to Logan, Utah in time for the next morning's freshman orientation. There was no time for tears or drawn-out goodbyes. My dad, brother, and sister, all got quick hugs and Mom and I left. I didn't even take my awards with me, figuring (rightly) that my dorm room was going to be small, and I wouldn't have a lot of room for ribbons and plaques. We drove all night, surprising ourselves with how good we were doing despite the tiring day we'd just had. We actually pulled into the parking garage on campus about two hours before registration opened and took a nap in the car. I reported that morning still wearing my black jeans, boots, and starched white shirt from the show the day before. It wasn't until a few boxes got unpacked in my new room that I had access to fresh clothes and could change.

I don't recommend anyone cram as much into two days as we did that weekend. However, I'm really glad I got to do it, and the money earned from that steer surely went towards a future tuition payment.

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