The Journey

Some of my favorite books that I have ever read are by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The hobbit series, if you will.  I read those in the early 80s and loved them.  Then, they came out with the Peter Jackson directed movies.  Kela and I went to watch them and I was like “That dude read the exact same books that I read.  AWESOME!”  I still blame these movies on Kela being in California as she loves the production of tv/movie AND she loves going on an adventure.  I still like the adventure.

It is that time of year, at least in OK and TX,  when exhibitors, parents, ag teachers, breeders, etc. are making the final decisions for “their journey” in the goat showing world.  I have literally been down every path on the journey to show goats.  As a parent, as an ag teacher, as a friend, as a breeder, as a buyer, as a seller, as the coach/jock, whatever….we’ve done it.  And I can tell you after 16 years of showing goats, there is not an exact RIGHT path.  It is different for everyone.

There are those that are headed to San Angelo on Friday.  They know that it isn’t going to be cheap but they have decided to make the plunge.  Goals are set and decisions were made.  The great ones have been coming out of that sale and they are tired of getting beat.  Pick a #, they have made the decision to spend X amount and are making the drive while getting mentally prepared to cross that boundary if need be.  A beer or two might accelerate that decision on Friday night when the fever kicks in.  Fever–hunh?!–cramped quarters, good stock, cold beer, desire to get that magical one, loud and fast paced auctioneer–yes, that sale is named appropriately.  It’s called marketing.

Then there are those that started this journey with goals AND a budget.  They might even have the champagne taste on a beer budget BUT they have an eye for livestock, so they stick to the budget, flip some rocks and try to find a couple that will work.  They might spend more on fuel, tires and time but they got their stock bought within range.

This post is not necessarily about Chris Kelln or even the Kelln family.  It is basically an old, tired dude thinking about what is going on in other people’s minds this week as the biggest month of high $ goats gets ready to unfold.   But I do have a lot of experience with this stuff.

I remember what it was like chasing banners with Kela.  I remember buying my first Kelly goat in 2005.  I remember winning an OK State Fair wether banner in 2006 with a student (Makeitha Nance) with a $250 Kelly goat–not many with those bragging rights.  He was a paint, cheap and Fred Slater and I both wanted her to have that goat.  Our kids got beat but we did eat a  lot of shrimp and crawfish dinners as a result of that “other” kid win.  I would do that again….and have a history of doing so.

I vividly remember helping Mikey Thompson and his step-son with goats.  They were doing well but Mikey and Tammy had mentally crossed the line and the journey changed.  It was time to win.  NOW!  I was the one about half sick when we left the Kelly ranch with the high seller in May 2009.  Ten years later and $14,000 is still a damn high dollar wether.  That wether dang neart died and was only shown twice.  Grand at the State Fair of OK and then OYE.  Then we bought the high seller at Powell/Holman the next month.    He was only shown once–grand at Tulsa.  This isn’t bragging on my part.  They were and are great livestock people and Chance could show.  But, I watched as Mikey, fueled by momma, made the decision to WIN!  I get it.  The journey for that family is still going and going strong in the hog barns.

I had a friend that used to talk a lot of shit about winning goat shows.  (still does)  Every year, I had to listen to this dude talk smack about how great his goats were and we didn’t have crap to beat them at the district.  AND then we would wipe the ring with them.  This continued for several years.   Then, that dude had enough of getting his ass whipped.  His kids were turning into good showman.  He finally asked for help.  At that time, he was a tire kicker.  He turned into a rock flipper, then he graduated to whatever it takes.  Now, we have come full circle.  TravASS and the Schovanec clan have had a heckuva journey.  A grand at OYE, couple grands at Tulsa, reserves at OYE (3 times), state fairs, Denver, etc.  Cheap goats then good, cheap goats, then high dollar goats, then back to basics.  They have fed a high seller at a Pfeiffer sale, a Gallagher and other breeders.  Their best goats were found standing on top of rocks but at a decent price.  Those kids are some of the best showmen ever. TravASS is one of those that works best under the radar.  Is that possible for that family to be “under the radar”?  Yes, yes it is.  I haven’t bought a goat for them, so don’t try to read anything into this.  I’m just saying that they won’t be buying any top sellers in the near future.  But Carson will show something.  The Schovanec family has won but also helped others on their journey to win.  I enjoy watching the cycle continue.

The Taylor family started their journey very similar to mine.  Keep it in a budget, work hard, show better and get better every year.  Bree did well.  Then better.  Then better still.  Then a string of winning divisions at Tulsa, then the Lone Star Elite, then a reserve at Woodward, then a couple of grand drives at OYE, a grand at Woodward.  Then decisions were made.  Looking back, this was an awkward time for me.  I had made the decision to leave a really good job.  They made the decision to WIN.  I then accidently became the ag teacher.  I’m sure the fact that Duke and Bree were in the same class didn’t help things.

There were differences of opinions about this journey.  We finished our journey as friends/ag teacher with a reserve grand at Tulsa, a grand at Phoenix and a premium sale at Woodward and OYE.   Helluva run for one year!  Some would call that year a career.  They then moved to Kingfisher.  I told Bill, that girl will win national championships with the Burns.  I was right, several times.  Their journey continued with 3 limo rides and 2 grands at OYE.  Decisions were made and journeys continued down different paths.  I do not take credit but I do understand the dollars spent, work ethic and decisions that were made.  I don’t have to agree with everything for other families but I understand.  We aren’t close friends now, but I do feel that there is still respect between the families.

I have watched, even advised, as others made decisions about their families’ journey in the goat show world.  Some of it makes me wince.  Some make me proud.  I think about the Rhodes and Comstock family and I dang neart get tears.  Yeah, that is bull.  I have tears at the corners.  The journey has been better for my family from dealing with those families.  There are others.

I don’t know that any family chose the wrong journey.  To each their own.  If anybody chose poorly, it was probably me. At this time last year, I felt that many doors were closed to me.  Several of my normal buying places had changed or quality had fallen off.  Things just didn’t feel right with others.  So, we chose otherwise.  And when I say We, I mean Tammy, Duke and I.  We should have just cut some of our own stuff as it turned out.  As a result, we ended a stellar career on a not-so-stellar result.  My fault.  Duke dang sure did his part.  But, I learned valuable info as to how to direct others in the future when it comes time to spend a pile or not.

I now find myself at crossroads on my own journey.  For the first time since 2003, I don’t have a goat order that I have to fill.  My choice.  Sure, a couple of student deals but not that serious, pound the pavement, flip rocks kind of deal. I’ve got excellent kids but they have to make that decision as to what their journey is going to be.  All of the kids that Tammy and I have helped have now graduated.  Thank GOD!  We have been blessed to deal with great kids and great families.  Truly the best.  (It ain’t bragging when you look at the track record and there was NO dirty pool on my part.)  But, this is the first time in 16 years that I do not have a target showman for winning a district show, state fair, OYE, Tulsa or whatever else…doe or wether.

In 2014, when I quit a really good job, this was not what I had in mind.  However, it has strangely worked out for me.  Not planned by any means.  But good.  Very, very good.  Tammy is in an even better place.

It is no secret that I love kids showing stock and I love excellent livestock.  But, I am addicted to the journey that one makes while helping kids succeed while learning about livestock, life and all that goes with it.  Decisions have to be made and then you have to live with those decisions.  The lessons learned are more important than the results but……. a banner damn sure validates a decision.

GOD speed to all as they head down the pavement to find that magical, mystical beast that fits their program.  Good luck and have fun.

Have a great one today and a better tomorrow.


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