In honor of National 4-H Week, October 2-8
Many people say the sports are the answer to learning teamwork. This is a statement that I will agree with, but we must not overlook the teamwork that working with livestock often takes. Have you ever seen a cowboy trying to move 300 head of cattle by himself? I sure wouldn’t want to try it personally, but people usually don’t realize the teamwork that is used to work or train cattle and other animals. To halter break twenty-five cattle this year, we had six different people working. Naturally, we didn’t all work at the same time all of the time, but in the course of the entire training period there were over twenty different people that helped in some way, shape, or form.
This year was filled with a variety of good and bad happenings, triumphs, and disappointments. We started out the year by training too many cattle, but it all worked out fine as we narrowed the field of twenty-five down to about twelve by the middle of the summer. Some of my most memorable experiences were in the fall and winter with the cattle that ended up getting put back into the feedlot.
We had a one red steer, that I really don’t know why we even started to train him. He was a knothead from the start and didn’t have much promise of grading well as a market steer. The third day that we worked with him, it was a little muddy, but I was feeling strong, so I decided to lead him out of the barn myself. The mud was over my ankles, it was about thirty degrees outside, and I went mud-skiingwith the red steer acting as my powerboat and my feet acting as the skis. I held on and eventually managed to get him to stop. From that day on, we had bonded and I was the only one that could lead him without him running away or trying to drag someone.
My sister and I had seven calves that we brought to our house while the rest of the herd stayed at my Grandpa’s farm for my other cousins to work on and prepare to show. With the help of all of my extended family, we have been able to succeed at the shows we have been to this year. I have a very nice steer that did well in the last 4-H show of both of our lives. He will be slaughtered after Ak-Sar-Ben and I will officially be too old to show as a member of 4-H. I have had many good years and many trying times. Through 4-H, I have made many friends and worked with many people that will make a difference in my career. 4-H has also been the key factor in my wanting to study agriculture.
My county and surrounding counties make up the Central IV Extension District and have managed to do well and to have a great time at the shows. We have been referred to as the “Pit Crew” when we get a calf into the blocking chute for the big show. Each 4-Her has a job and each of us does our job quickly and efficiently with the expected criticisms and ideas from the adults. They are not allowed to do any of the grooming at contests, but they are our guides and mentors. They have all had their years as the 4-Her and it is next to impossible to step aside completely and let the younger people do all of the work. As my last show has passed, I am beginning to understand why they always want to help or give opinions about everything. Next year, I know I won’t want to stand on the sidelines as my sister and cousins get their calves ready to enter the show ring.
To be continued tomorrow in Part 3 of 3!