30 Days on a Prairie Farm: Show Ring

My Generation

Day 13: Why farmers show livestock, and other tales from the show ring.

Published on: November 13, 2012

When you grow up in a cattle showing family, I'm not sure that you give a lot of thought to why you do what you do. You enjoy it, your parents support it, you carry on. It's only later that you look back and realize how much you really learned back then and, you know, what the point of it all was. I'm not sure that I even fully thought through a lot of it until my own child stepped in the show ring this past summer.

I think, however, the thing that has struck me as I've grown up, is the history involved, particularly because I grew up in a family that valued purebred livestock and that had a history in the purebred cattle business.

So why do we show cattle? The short answer is the competition. We like taking our best out and seeing how we stack up. We like watching genetics in action, and we like breeding cattle and coming up with something better.

Left to right, thats Miss Cumberland (Cumby, for short), me and Dr. Don St Ledger, handing off a showmanship trophy in circa 1993. Glory days, I tell ya.
Left to right, that's Miss Cumberland (Cumby, for short), me and Dr. Don St Ledger, handing off a showmanship trophy in circa 1993. Glory days, I tell ya.

Growing up in a show ring and among breeding cattle, you learn to distinguish good traits from bad. You learn to follow genetics of a particular breeding line. The heifer I'm holding in the photo below was one of our very favorites and to this day, I could tell you her full bloodline, her age, who she was bred to and when, and when, where and for how much we bought her. Ask me something useful like, say, the deductible on our auto insurance and I've got nothing. But random information about Miss Cumberland? It still claims a corner of valuable real estate in my mind.

My girl Jenna, ready to roll, and with her own showmanship trophies already tucked away.
My girl Jenna, ready to roll, and with her own showmanship trophies already tucked away.

And so today, we do the same with our kids. Because beyond the stuff you learn about cattle and genetics and breeding and structural soundness, you also learn how to exhibit an animal properly. You learn how to pay attention, to carry yourself, to present information about your animal to a judge.

In the end, you learn how to compete.

 

The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm

Kickoff: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm

Day 1: Working Kids

Day 2: Biotechnology

Day 3: Harvest Eats

Day 4: Church

Day 5: Biotechnology, Again

Day 6: Long Haul

Day 7: Hormones

Day 8: Weather

Day 9: Milk

Day 10: County Fairs

Day 11: Harvest

Day 12: Technology

 

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