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Her First Show

Hard work pays off for a girl and her bottlecalf.

An upfront confession: my husband, John, and I have been a little overly excited about having a kid showing cattle, since pretty much before we ever had kids. Thinking of how we were "doing this for our kids" got us through long nights of pulling calves in the wee hours, and years of, ahem, budget shortfalls on the cattle side of the operation. We grew up in the showring, and if our kids have any interest whatsoever, we'd love for them to, too.

So here we go. A loss in the cow herd this past winter brought us Buttercup the Bottlecalf, whose
birth and exciting adventures have been well documented here. Now, she can add showring veteran to her short life's list of accomplishments. At 7, our daughter Jenna is still not yet old enough for 4-H, nor to show in junior shows locally. But the bottlecalf class at the Cuba Livestock Show is open to any age. And lucky for Jenna, her cousins were taking their sheep and offered a little trailer space for Buttercup. And so we were off.

Jenna practiced diligently the week before, helping Buttercup get used to the showstick, and learning how to juggle showstick, lead rope and calf in her small hands. The night before, she picked out her show shirt – yellow, of course – and she was ready to go.


A few last-minute instructions from Dad, and then it was off to the ring. See how she's intently listening? I see that not so much happening in, say, five more years.

Calves and kids and showsticks, oh my. Jenna was one of seven in her class.

Adam Dryer judged. Jenna says he asked her what her calf's name was and where she came up with the name. I'm a little surprised she didn't launch into the whole story about how John and the veterinarian thought Buttercup was a bull, and she was originally named Buddy…right up until John went to band him. I mean, her. And that's how she became Buttercup.

Oh, the intensity. She's gonna be good at this. I can just feel it.

And…done. After some very encouraging words from the judge, the kids were each pronounced grand champions of the bottlecalf class, and they headed out of the ring to claim their prize: $10 and a purple cup (How genius is that? Cups, instead of another ribbon. Love it.)

And not to sound overly mushy, 'cause I'm pretty sure I've already crossed that line…but this right here? These little kids in this show ring? This is what makes rural America great. Young people, working hard, learning about animals, caring for them, and being rewarded for their work. It's good stuff. And it's happening at fairs all over the countryside this summer.


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