We recently had our 4H Show and Sale, and let me tell you, it was a good, long, exhausting day!
I should start off this little ditty by telling you what happened the night BEFORE the sale.... The day before the sale, the Girls were outside, washing their steers, getting them gussied up for their big day. They bathed them, touched up a few spots with clippers, hung out with them.... It was a great day! Since we've had so much rain over the past few weeks (which we are SO thankful for!), we decided to put those beautiful beasts in a different, dry pen so all of the girls' work of getting them clean, wouldn't be in vain. We moved them and got them settled in, and headed in for an early night. The Girls were all in bed, and Art and I were also laying in bed, almost asleep, when I heard the dogs start barking like crazy. I looked out my bedroom window, and I see a steer walking by.... in the PASTURE. Ummmm, what?! We jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes, and headed out to catch a steer. We get to the pen where those beautiful beasts were supposed to be, and there was only one steer instead of three. After a quick assessment, we see that those beautiful beasts had broken through 3 fence boards and gotten out. Ahhh!! Thankfully, they hadn't wandered far. While Art quickly mended the fence, I kept an eye on those beautiful beasts, and we eventually got them back in their newly renovated pen. Just before dark. Once we headed inside, we were no longer tired...rather, we were sweaty and hot....and extremely thankful! I can't imagine what would've happened, and the panic that would've ensued in the morning, when the girls went out to catch their steers to load them up and they weren't there! Oy. It would've been disastrous!
After a shorter than anticipated night, we loaded up those beautiful beasts in the morning and headed to town. I'd like to think that these bad boys had been given a taste of freedom, and therefore were less than thrilled when we got to town, and they realized that they had to walk around a show ring all day. Let's go with that theory....because we had a few unimpressed steers on our hands. Molly's steer especially, was a wee bit wild in the ring, which made her very frustrated, especially since he's been the quietest this whole year. Oh well. It is what it is. The good news is that all three of these beautiful beasts got sold that night, so the Girls got to come home with a cheque instead of a steer. Although they were sad to see their buddies go, Molly especially was ready to hand hers over to be sent to the butcher!
After we got home from our never ending day, after everyone had showered and gone to bed, and I lay, wide awake in bed due to the excessive amounts of caffeine I had consumed earlier in the day, I was able to reflect back over the day and really think about it. And here are some things that I realized I am so thankful for the lessons these beautiful beasts have taught us.
1. It takes a whole lotta work to raise an animal. It's true. My girls were out there every day, twice a day, feeding their steers and checking on them. Rain or shine, blizzard or heat wave, those beasts were cared for by girls who loved them. They halter broke them, groomed them, figured out what made them tick.... A whole lotta work.
2. Farming is uncertain business. We bought these steers last fall, when the market was at it's peak. And the market has fallen substantially since then. So these boys really needed to pack on the pounds in order to bring home a paycheck. Not to mention the state of our economy right now, and these are fairly uncertain times for a whole lotta people. The input costs are still there, but at the end of the day, you get what you get, when you take a critter to the market. Honestly, I'm just glad the girls didn't lose money this year!
3. 4H kids are awesome. And so are the parents who raise them. My Molly came out of the ring and burst into tears, because she was so upset at how her steer had (not) preformed. He was being a butthead. In real life. Instantly, she was surrounded by her fellow 4H-ers, comforting her and encouraging her. And then, I watched as many of the parents took her aside and spoke to her as well, telling her that it was ok....they knew she'd worked really hard on her project and he just was being a pooper. It made me cry, seeing their compassion for her. And in no time, she was smiling again, and joking around. They helped her get him ready for her next class, and some of the older members helped her lead him and give him a "chat" about acceptable behavior. Ironically, he was pretty darn good by the time the sale rolled around, and she got a pretty penny for her steer.
4. Losing graciously is a really good lesson to learn. Maybe even more important to learn in life than winning graciously? Last year, our kids did really, really well in the show and sale. This year? Not so much. But that's ok. Because they are not going to win at everything in life. Hopefully they won't lose at everything either.... But it was really, really great to see the Girls genuinely happy for their friends who did win. They were excited for them, and cheering them on along the way. And that is a big, fat win in my books.
5. Helping others is important. Even if you don't know them. Due to how 4H is structured, parents are not allowed to help their kids during this 4H show. The leaders are allowed to help, minimally, but what is encouraged the most is that kids help each other. Regardless of age, club, which project they are involved in.... And I think it's great. You get less of parents interfering in things, and more of kids, figuring things out. And the comradery that this facilitates is priceless!
I could go on and on, and have a few more lessons in which I can see these beautiful beasts definitely had a big factor in us learning, but I will sum it all up with this. 4H has been a great experience for our family. And I'm so, so thankful for our club.
I'm also thankful that it's summer... And there will (hopefully) not be any more blizzards.... for at least a few months!