Last week, my family and I loaded up the 4-door sedan and headed south. It was a multi-purpose trip, a time to relax and take in a college visit. There was a lot of excitement for the 18-hour drive that was to lead us from the snowy hills of Missouri to the sandy beaches of Florida. Then there was also a hint of sadness. We barely pulled out of the farm driveway when my eldest daughter announced, "This is the first time in 12 years that we have been on vacation without the stock trailer."
She was right. Like many livestock show families, our "vacations" center on the show ring. There is just something about hooking up our crew cab Chevy pickup to our 28-foot bright red Corn Pro trailer and hitting the road. For one, there is space. And with two teenage daughters, space is always a requirement. The gooseneck can carry more than just a blower, feeders and buckets. It has always been our luggage overflow area despite the hint of barn smell to our clothes when we unpack.
This is the first time that the vacation did not involve washing and fitting at least 14-head of sheep before leaving the farm. On those trips, once we arrived at our destination, there was even more work. The girls would spend hours re-trimming to get the animals show ready. And then they would work for hours in the show ring, not only exhibiting their flocks, but also helping others with their flocks. Our girls were always working before, during and after any of our so-called vacations. So relaxing on a family trip was a new concept, one I admit we did not do well.
In the five days we were gone from the Show-Me State, we stopped by Metropolis, Tenn., to visit a statue of Superman, the Parthenon replica in Nashville, the University of Florida in Gainesville, Daytona Beach in Daytona, Cardinals Spring Training in Jupiter, another beach, then finally Universal Studios in Orlando. My husband and I had to laugh as both girls said they wanted to "relax on the beach," and then by the time we laid out our beach towels and took one dip in the ocean, they were ready to leave. They did not like just sitting around.
While livestock shows may be work, our daughter's enjoy the reward of hard work. They visit many states, but more importantly, they make countless friends. They spend time catching up by the show ring, by the pens and by the stock trailer. So, it is no wonder as they looked out the back window, they realized something was missing. This trip would not lead them to a livestock show. This trip would not lead them to the home-like feel of a show ring.
In the middle of our spring break, standing in packed lines with complete strangers waiting 2 hours for the Harry Potter ride, they lamented. "Maybe we should have gone to a show."