Some Christmas Presents Can’t Be Wrapped Under the Tree
“Please mom, if you help me pay for her, you can take out of my Christmas gift list.”
This is a bargaining technique I used quite often growing up. I budgeted for months for a new doe, but always seemed to financially fall short. So, I would always go to my parents and “sacrifice” my Christmas gift. However, I knew my presents under the tree were not compromised compared to the rest of my siblings, even after I bought my animal. I was blessed with parents who understood the power that raising livestock can have on a child. All personal finances and facility availability aside, parents, I only hope that you agree with these five main benefits of gifting an animal for Christmas.
Accountable to be responsible
Responsibility can't be taught on paper - it needs to be developed through personal experiences. The biggest priority of raising an animal is being accountable and responsible. Feeding, cleaning pens and providing proper paperwork are expected out of producers. Naturally, this responsibility will correlate to accountability because an animal is solely dependent on its owner. After raising an animal, I promise your child will naturally learn to be dependable in their teams, school and work.
Along with responsibility, an animal can teach a child how to be financially successful. It will teach them to designate a certain amount of their income (or allowance) to feed and equipment. This is the step in the right direction as your child learns to balance their income with expenses such rent, school and food.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Communication and compromise are just two aspects of teamwork that transpires in the barn and in the show ring. As your child cares for their animal, they may need help from others with feeding, transportation and show prep. I only hope that you are a resource to your child to practice teamwork.
Re-gifting and so much more
My experience with livestock has helped me become more of a leader to my peers. Back in 2009, a first year cloverbud named Tyler wanted to show goats. Of course, I said yes. I had no idea that he would still be showing today.
In the meantime, I have been able to share my passion and have always had a teammate. Throughout the years, I have held him accountable to practice hard for the show and he has depended on me to answer his questions. We both have budgeted to ensure he has the feed and genetics needed to succeed. Since Tyler lives in town, he is an example of not being able to receive this gift on his own. But thankfully to the both of us, I have taken the initiative to “re-gift” my animals. He is a hard-working kid that I am proud of; I only hope he has benefitted personally from his livestock, just as I have.
The five stages of grief
The real-life lesson of acceptance is usually learned the hard way during a time in turmoil or frustration. Acceptance in challenges that farmers encounters. Acceptance in knowing that you did everything you possibly could for the animal, but it may not have leveled up in the showring. Acceptance in life’s unknown mysteries of despair, disease, and death.
I only hope that you are there to talk your child through the stages of grief; all the way to the acceptance phase. Let them experience the long hours worked with not a lot of pay because commodity prices are low. Show them how to react in a professional manner to a loss in the show ring. Your child can learn a lot from this animal. Your child can learn a lot from you.
Not all gifts fit under the tree. Family, food, presents and holiday carols are just the start of the joy of this time of year. Unfortunately, these holiday perks do have an expiration date. Eventually, your child will have to go back to school, your decorations must come down, and life continues. On the contrary, there is a certain gift in the barn waiting patiently for your child. This gift continues throughout the year and the lessons will last for a lifetime. Happy Holidays everyone!