Isn’t it amazing how the stock show competition has changed. When I was showing, my dad and I bought our animals on a very limited budget. We did our clipping and feed management. Almost all of the animals were bought within a 150 mile radius of Shattuck, OK. We made premium sales at Tulsa and OKC with pigs and steers. We used sound livestock evaluation, proper nutrition, showmanship and hard work.
Now, if a showman doesn’t have somebody helping them, regardless of specie, it is tough for them to be competitive. Whether they are a jock, fitter, breeder, friend, whatever, somebody needs to be able to pick out the right animal, give proper feeding and showing instructions and have an idea what the end judge is looking for. And do it all on somebody else’s budget.
I spent a lot of money out of my own pocket when I was teaching to make sure kids had an animal that I wanted us to show. Now, I just try to cover my travel expenses. Some might call it an addiction, some a hobby. Me, I call it fun.
It is nothing for me to drive 750 miles to look for goats or bid on a pig in Iowa on an internet auction that I haven’t seen before. I study all of the cattle websites, auctions, magazines just in case Duke says “Dad, I want to show a steer.” I talk to breeders of all species. One because I like showing animals. Two because I might learn something. The cattle boys always have new hair care products and clipper blades, the hog boys are always working on new feeds and who knows what the hell the sheep guys are doing, they don’t even talk to each other.
Now, a lot of ag teachers are less involved in the buying process, so parents turn to successful people to get their animals for their kids. They don’t have the time, knowledge, or desire to go on the hunt, flipping rocks looking for that next great one. Some don’t want the pressure of buying an animal on a limited budget and making sure it is the right animal. Whatever the reason, it is easier and probably better to get help.
No matter who picks out the animal, there still has to be sound livestock evaluation, proper nutrition, showmanship, hard work and better facilities than what we used to need. Sometimes, even a bigger checkbook.
On another note, the Dragon Lady grilled up some filet mignon steaks from Hutch’s. Perfectly cooked medium rare, taters and beans. I ate too much. Couldn’t sleep past 1 am. So I watched a rerun of Pawn Stars. Then a re-rerun Law & Order. Then at 2:30 am it was the Chappelle Show with the Charlie Murphy/Rick James sketch. I had seen it before, but I still laughed like it was the first time.