6 Reasons to be Thankful for Your Stock Show Family
Those people you show with. They may be in your club or your community. They may live far away. Over the time you’ve spent showing you’ve bonded with these people. You’ve come to count on them. You look forward to being with them. They are a part of your life, your circle. They are your livestock show family.
My husband, kids and I have a very supportive, loving and close biological family. We are very thankful and very blessed. We are also thankful for our second family; our livestock show family. Here are 6 reasons to be thankful for your livestock show family.
1. They See You at Your Best
You just won Supreme Champion. Your kid just won showmanship. Your junior livestock judging team just beat a bunch of senior teams. You are beaming with pride. You are joyous. You are smiling and fist bumping, grinning in front of the backdrop with your banner. Your livestock show family is there too. They are grinning right along with you. They are holding your paper towels, extra combs or clipboards so those items won’t be seen in your champion picture. They aren’t jealous (not much, anyway) because they’ve had their turn with the banner and they will again. Your livestock show family is proud and excited for YOU.
I once got so excited when my daughter won a tough Grand Champion drive that I smacked the person standing beside me on the rear end… and it wasn’t my husband. I don’t know why I did it. I guess those years of high school sports have stayed with me. She turned to me with shock in her eyes and then we both bent over laughing. Thank goodness it was my friend; my livestock show family. Otherwise, it would have been pretty awkward.
2. They Still Love You at Your Worst
Let’s be honest. Even though we love showing livestock, there are days that are stressful, tiring and just plain irritating. There are early mornings and late nights. You stay at the barn until midnight shearing sheep and loading the trailer just to get up before 5:00 a.m. to go to the show. You’re setting up your stall space when you and your significant other have a heated discussion about what goes where. You’ve just come out of the show ring where your heifer decided to forget everything you had ever worked on. Some kid at the wash rack is wielding his water hose like he’s working the water ride at Dollywood. You’re soaked. You’re dirty. You’re frustrated. And your attitude is starting to reflect it. Your livestock show family is there through it all. They may try to calm you down. They may offer a change of clothes or a pep talk. They may crack a joke. They may just steer clear of you for a while because they know you THAT well. But they love you through it all. They know that this too shall pass, and you’ll be back to your pleasant self soon. They know that they’ll be the cranky, wet, and tired one eventually and you will be there for them.
3. There Are Eyes Everywhere
This one is more for the stock show parents. There are eyes on your kids everywhere! There’s something about a fair that turns kids into fun-craving little monkeys. They climb gates and panels. They roll in shavings. They wrestle. They run. They have so much fun. Which is great. However, sometimes that wrestling can get too rough. The climbing can get too high. That fun can tend to go too far. Sometimes when that happens momma and daddy are busy. Or resting. Or making a food run. That’s where your livestock show family comes in. There are other moms and dads there to reel in the wayward children. To calm things down and redirect or straight up threaten the kids into behaving.
My favorite example of this happened at one of the final fairs of our show season. All the kids in our show family, plus a few more, were climbing and swinging on an announcer’s stand like it was a jungle gym. It was after the show. They had held it together in the ring and now they were letting loose. Loudly. Obnoxiously. Suddenly, our friend, a fellow livestock show mom, marched toward the chaos and declared, “If I know your momma you better get down! Now!” Those kids scattered like roaches when the lights come on. Well, the ones in our show family anyway. They knew she meant business. They didn’t question whether to obey her or not. That was just as good as their own mom telling them to do something. None of the parents minded either. When you are part of a stock show family you have your mom and your “other moms.” Sorry kids, there are eyes everywhere!
4. You Can Count On Each Other
When you’re a member of a sports team you share things. Water bottles, rides to the game, equipment. This makes perfect sense. You’re part of a team. People working together all out for a common goal of winning as a team. When you show livestock, the people around you are your competition. Including your livestock show family, who can often be your biggest competition. One might think that you wouldn’t help those folks. That’s so wrong. Livestock show families help each other in SO many ways. If it’s in the show box and you need it then use it. rom adhesive to halters to tools to the first aid kit. If your livestock show family needs something and you have it, it’s theirs. And vice versa. I can’t tell you how many times an item has been added to my normal grocery list because my kids ate it out of someone else’s snack bag at a show and liked it. You help fit each other’s cattle, shear each other’s sheep, keep up with each other’s kids and hitch rides for animals or tack on each other’s trailers. While waiting to go in the ring for the same class your mom is wiping poop off your friend’s heifer. Your friend’s dad is holding your steer because you had to run back for your scotch comb. You never have to worry about having animals in the same class or multiples in the grand drive. Your livestock show family is always there to help each other in the show ring. Those kids will show that animal as well as they would show their own. That’s how livestock show families work.
One of the most recent examples of this happened at our State Fair. We had two class winners who were going into the ring for division champion. A kid in our stock show family stripped down to his boxers in the barn, threw on some show clothes, and bolted across the parking lot to the show ring while his mom tucked in his shirt on the run. Seconds later, the kid walked into the ring with poise and confidence and showed that heifer with all he had. Though he might have been a little winded.
5. You Laugh. A Lot.
As in laugh until you cry. Maybe there is an inside joke that you share with one person or everyone in your livestock show family. You have those moments when you are all giggling or grinning and no one else knows why. Those times that something just pops out of your mouth that some people can’t believe you said but those who know you best bust out laughing. The people that a simple shared look can elicit a grin or fits of giggles. Restaurants along your show circuit have photos of your show family on the wall reminding them to seat your laughing, loud selves in the back room or on the patio. You genuinely enjoy being together.
Sometimes you need your livestock show family to make you laugh when you want to cry. Just this past summer while driving in the dark five hours from home we had a blown tire on our fully loaded trailer. Our friends stopped to help. Due to a series of unfortunate and could-only-happen-to-us events a 20-minute job took almost an hour. Two trucks/trailers on the side of the road, in the dark, on a busy interstate, 5 kids, 4 adults, three show heifers and 14 show lambs, there was absolutely nothing funny about our situation. Yet we were cracking jokes, laughing and making good-natured fun of one another the whole time. It’s in those moments that we are truly thankful for the people we surround ourselves with.
The kids you grow up with showing livestock are often the adults you end up counting on. You’ve seen kids running in an empty show ring, giggling over snapchat filters, playing hide and seek in random and sometimes questionable spaces and generally having a blast with each other. Livestock show kids know how to have fun. They are fearless and inventive. They play and interact in ways that are somehow different from their relationships with other friends. You support your livestock show friends. Young and old, they are among the people you know are there for you.
I once overheard one of my kid’s livestock show friends at a fair. Our son was in the ring with his favorite heifer. His friend was standing behind me whispering to himself, willing the judge to choose our son as first place. This is the kind of person that folks young and old should have in their lives. he people who support you, cheer for you and genuinely want what’s best. These are the kinds of friends you find at a livestock show.
Look, I’m the girl who married the guy she met in the show ring, so maybe I’m biased. But I don’t think so. In our livestock show family some of us grew up together showing. Some of us are neighbors. Some of us worked together. Some of us actually share DNA. No matter how our livestock show family formed, we are connected by this thing we all love. Showing livestock. We are better for it. We are thankful for each other and appreciate these years together.
Why are you thankful for your livestock show family?
Cover Photo Courtesy of Montana Ag Photography