That moment your first steer is loaded onto the semi, and you’re handed that empty halter.
That dreaded, empty halter.
Maybe he was a sweetheart. Maybe he was a knot head. But as you carry that empty halter back to your stalls – now missing that animal once part of your barn for months – things are different.
And you’re forever changed.
click image to zoomNo matter how many years pass, you always remember that first steer. For me, it was Tremor the Angus steer. I was 8. For months, we worked together in our Hillsboro, Texas, barn. We grew together and with each show we attended, I learned a bit more about what it took to be a showman.
I was young. Everything was new. And my 8-year-old self never fully grasped what we had accomplished during our final show of the year – capturing the Champion Angus Steer title at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and showing in the Astrodome during a rodeo break for grand champion honors.
We weren’t named grand champion. But Tremor was the champion of champions to me.
Mom and dad prepared me as best they could for what was to come, and Tremor sold in the sale of champions.
The buyers were generous. And the experience was incredible.
But then it was time for Tremor to be loaded onto the semi. And dad returned with that empty halter.
And I wasn’t as prepared as I had thought.
I cried myself to sleep for several nights. And finally, dad sat me down for a chat. He said he knew it was tough. But showing steers would always result in that end. And if I wanted to continue, I’d have to come to terms with that fact.
So I did.
Oh, I cried a bit every year. But I never allowed myself to get quite as attached to another steer after that first year.
click image to zoomWaylon and Lightning learned from each other during Waylon's first year of 4-H. Our son, Waylon, reached 4-H age this year. And when he and my husband, Craig, found “the one” in an online sale, we purchased him. And Waylon’s first steer, Lightning, entered the barn.
Craig and I knew we needed to be proactive.
We had many talks with him and little brother, Nolan, about the role steers play in feeding the world. That we must take the best care possible of these animals while they’re in our care. And when it’s time, we must say good-bye, knowing it’s their time to fulfill their greater purpose.
Waylon and Lightning made the trip together to local and state shows, and to the Junior National Hereford Expo in Harrisburg, Pa. Each show, growing and learning from each other. Each show, improving.
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