Hannah, my step daughter, is a pro at showing her goats...but for me...well...it was my first rodeo. I had a privilege of going to my first stock show this past week where my 16 year old step daughter showed her goats, Curtis and Franklin. My husband grew up with this kind of lifestyle...so it was another day in the country for him. But for me...I got lost in the whole wonder of it all.
I have been to rodeos and absolutely loved them...but this was different. Hannah, along with hundreds of other kids ranging from age 8-18 had spent a year raising goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits and cattle and brought them to the Atascosa Show Barn to be judged. The animals are judged on how the traits of their breed shake out when showing. So...a judge will look for fat content and muscling as well as height and balance of body. That's all "Greek" to me...even though I want to learn more about it. What impressed me most were the kids showing their animals.
I watched in amazement as 8 year old kid handled goats that were bigger than they were. I listened as they spoke to the judge replying to his questions with, "Yes Sir...". I watched as their eyes would be fixed on the judge when they "traveled" their goats around the pen. You could feel the anticipation in the room when the judge would stand in the middle of the arena with his hand on his chin...thinking...then walking over to one of the goats and squeezing their back to get another take on the muscling.
Finally, the judge would call it. He would point to one, then another, then another. First, second and third. One little guy beamed when he got third place. A girl in a bright pink western shirt welled up with tears and her competition...a ruddy teenage boy, high-fived her and congratulated her on the win. Even I welled up with tears and I didn't know any of them personally.
There's no doubt that these kids are the cream of the crop...no pun intended. They know the meaning of responsibility. They have learned respect...not just for their animals...but for their competitors and their FFA and 4-H teachers that guided them along the way. I wish I could be a kid again...just to be able to do what they were doing.
If you have a FFA (Future Farmer's of America) or a 4-H program in your community...I would encourage you to get involved. If you can't get involved...take some time and go to a stock show. Better yet...at the end...when the winners get to auction their projects off...bid on them. Many of those kids have funded a good portion of their college education with those proceeds.