This post could be a Why NOT to do some things. Such as my thoughts of Why a banner pic should just be the kid, the animal and the judge–no breeders, parents, helpers or friends–UNLESS it is a really special occasion–like a Sr. year after a really good career.
But not tonight. This post is about the “Why” we do this. It is NOT about the dollars. None of us got in this game to make stupid money. But greed can get in the way. Don’t get me wrong, I like to cash a fat check. But there is a time and a place for that.
Let’s rewind to the early 80s. My stock show career began as a pig project for myself with my Dad’s help. Not many dollars were spent on my show projects, but I learned a pile about animal nutrition, work ethic, genetics (“that pig is sired by Larry Brady’s Harry boar, he has a chance”), how not to do some things, how to ask for help from those that know more than us and in the end, I learned a lot about life, livestock and myself.
As part of my education, I was “forced” to show a couple of sheep. That was a bad year. But if I wanted a steer, I had to show those two D (insert D word here ) sheep in order to get a steer. That wasn’t fun. But I got a steer the next year. We didn’t know how to clip, fit or grow hair, but Dad dang sure knew how to feed a steer. Judging from the beef in my freezer, he still does. Over the next couple of years, I showed some really good steers that were all locally grown. We had success.
I made premium sales at OKC and Tulsa with hogs and steers. Not big wins, but considering budget and lack of “show ring” knowledge, we did well. After several years of teaching ag, I got to looking around at the succesful ag teachers in any given species. Guess what? They were all kind of like me. Had a taste of success, but not many big wins. Basically, it was kind of like a carpentry class. Yep, you better have a foundation first and then build from there. That’s where I was lucky. Dad and I built a foundation on proper livestock nutrition, selection, care, reproduction, genetics, etc. He still practices sound livestock management with his cows. Sometimes, but not often, I keep one because I cashed a fat check. I have given parole to a couple of does, but not many. It’s usually because “according to her mom and grandma, she should be better than that”. I still won’t keep an unproductive, non-maternal doe if she gets me twice. Sale barn bound.
Now, I am way deep into this livestock game. My first-born got me into this goat game, even though she had success with hogs, chickens and had a really nice cow herd. Then, this last-born offspring drug me back into the hogs and now he has a few cows to go along with these goats. Throw in a few dogs that aren’t mine and I always have some kind of animal thing going around this piece of paradise. On occassion, I walk around in a foul mood (rarely), normally after dealing with does, and I look around and think “Dang, I could have a really killer dispersal sale.” Then I remember WHY I do this in the first place.
The future. That’s it. That’s why. The future are kids. Everything about the stock show game is about raising the next generation to understand why we need livestock. Sure, the end product is meat. But kids need to know sound livestock management in order to make the livestock productive AND profitable. We all sometimes confuse the productive and profitable part. They AREN’T the same. Just because old tag # whatever cow/sow/doe raised a high seller does NOT make her productive. She might be profitable, but she could be passing on some poor maternal traits that will take years to breed out.
We need to be teaching/preaching/professing whatever it takes, to promote sound livestock practices that promote a better generation–humans and livestock. Sometimes there should be a cost for an education. But other times, as adults, breeders, etc. we just need to realize that it is best to pass it on, pay it forward or do the old bible school lesson. Yep, the Golden Rule–Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you. Just help a kid out and wait. Wait to see what happens. Kind of like no-till triticale seed. It might take a little bit longer than desired, but then there it is. It’s all good.
And as breeders, we need to be able to work with other breeders to share genetics. It doesn’t have to ALWAYS be about cashing a check. Trade breedings, share flushes, whatever. Be progressive. Don’t worry about it. Just think about what you would be willing to do if it could help your own kids. It will all come full circle. It’s an investment. An investment in kids, an investment in building a future in the business and simply building an investment in the future of people understanding what we do. It’s better to cash 10 checks for 10 years than to cash that big one this year.
I don’t know if this post is worth 2 squirts of owl $h!t, but while typing it, George, Cinderalla, Waylon, AC/DC and Shakira all played on the iTunes. Maybe I need to keep typing. Oh NO! Now, we are in trouble–the Foo Fighters just cranked up on the speakers. In the past couple of hours until present time, I have had “maybe the most progressive breeder in OK” at my house, a parent that absolutely gets it call about items not concerning goats, another one text and an email from one that is just trying to do better up north. I love it.
I am waiting on the opportunity to be in some pics. But those kids aren’t seniors yet. I’ve got time and when the time is right, I’ll blend into the background, right where they can crop me out of the picture. Have a good day, a better tomorrow and help others. Thanks to those that already do.