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Serving: IL
Nathan, Jenna and Caroline Spangler
BARN KIDS: Right after we loaded out but before we pulled out, and still smiling.

All in the (livestock) family

Oklahoma cattle judge reflects on the weather and type of family it took to survive it — plus, what it all has to do with a cattle show.

We were standing ringside as the judge made his final comments at the Illinois Beef Expo last weekend. He talked about our weather of the past few weeks, which as an Oklahoman, he was pretty sure he couldn’t survive. Think subzero temps, feet of snow, inches of ice, all alternating with rain and mud. While calving.

Honestly, we weren’t sure we’d survive it either.

Then his next sentence summed up our whole weekend pretty well: “To go through what you’ve been through these last few weeks and still come here as a family says something about this ag industry.”

He was dead-on.

We’d spent that weekend together as a family. We washed, led, fit and showed together. We laughed and ate pizza in the stalls, and visited with friends and told stories together. We worried about that one heifer together. We tore down and loaded the trailer together. We made decisions together.

And before that, we pulled calves together, bedded the barn together and thawed waterers together.

We worked together.

What that says about this ag industry is that it’s a family deal. We work as a unit. We do hard stuff together, and we do fun stuff together. We double over laughing with the delightful people our children are becoming.

Our kids do lots of things where we drop them off and don’t participate: plays, basketball, scholastic bowl, piano lessons. All good things and good to do on their own. But livestock, man. That’s a family affair, at home and on the road. We rise and fall together, and that’s good for them — and for us.

That judge wrapped up his comments with this: “What we do may not be very profitable today, but it will be profitable in the long run. I don’t think there’s another industry where you can raise your children and raise them right, and get them headed in the right direction like you can in this one.”

He’s right on that one. There were no economic lessons to be had that day in Springfield. But with our kids watching and learning every minute, I’ll take the profit down the road, all day long.




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