Here's the Point

My Generation

Ribbons are nice and trophies are better, but here's what really matters: precious time.

Published on: May 25, 2011
Show season is heating up, all across the Midwest and, honestly, across the better part of the rural U.S. countryside. The best cattle, lambs and pigs have been vigilantly selected. The careful feeding has commenced. The daily rinsing and grooming may have even already begun. Preview shows are about to be held, or have already been held.

But really, all that isn't even the point. This is the point:



This is Campbell Martin, getting a last-minute bit of advice and a pep talk from his Uncle Nathan. Campbell was about to show a pig at his county fair a couple years ago, one of his first shows. Then, at this time last year, his uncle died of testicular cancer.

I think what strikes me so deeply about this photo is the number of times I've seen it play out in real life. How many of us have been on either the giving or the receiving end of that exact same talk? Campbell's mom, Holly, shared this photo at the time of Nathan's death, and it has clung to a corner of my mind ever since. Look at how that young man adored his uncle. "Some of the best times we had with him were in the barn," Holly says.

This is what it's all about. Families together, learning from each other and having a good time. If you think the point of showing livestock is to make money – and a lot of people do – let me just say, I think you are wrong. We all like to win, and I am absolutely among them. The livestock exhibition business is an industry unto itself.

But this right here? Time spent together, in a shared activity that engages multiple generations? This is a gift. We don't recognize that enough in agriculture; that this thing we do with showing livestock gives us opportunities to spend time together that families outside our industry would kill for.

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  1. jshike says:

    Well said, Holly! As a friend of this great young role model who was taken from us too soon, and as former director of the NJSA, I was fortunate to watch these two in action at pig shows. There's nothing like a great mentoring relationship - especially when it unfolds around a livestock project. As a mother to a 3- and 5-year-old, I'm learning how quickly time zips by. There are so many things out there for kids to get involved in. But I'm convinced that showing livestock is one of the very best ways you can invest in your family. I'll never forget the memories of loading up the trailer with my family and heading down the road together to the next show. As the show season heats up, thanks for this great reminder of what really matters and thanks for honoring Nathan's memory with this post. He's missed greatly by his friends and our industry.

  2. DeAnne says:

    Well said. My time showing hogs and cattle with my brothers in the mid to late 80's are what helped me connect with them due to our age spread. I would not have chosen the career I'm in today had it not been for the time spent promoting livestock production and showing livestock. Nice job!