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Attending Hoosier Beef Congress with a 'Sure Loser'

Attending Hoosier Beef Congress with a 'Sure Loser'
Why am I shocked when my farm kids actually learn something I've tried to teach them?

We're not in it to win it. Is that weird? Don't get me wrong, winning is awesome. However, I've spent years trying to teach my kids it isn't the reason we do things, particularly showing cattle.

"Always do your best," I tell them. "But winning isn't everything."

Hoosier Beef Congress was last weekend. If you visited to peruse the aisles of beautiful show calves and then passed that stall – you know the one – when you do a double-take and mumble under your breath, "Good grief, why did they bring that calf?", you probably stumbled onto the Campbell family's stalls.

So here's the back story: We took a May calf to Hoosier Beef Congress. He was little, weighing maybe 500 pounds.

Kids and calves: The qualities and compassion kids learn when working with livestock are amazing, I feel blessed that my kids have this opportunity on a daily basis.

Related: Life At the County Fair: When Did A Blue Ribbon Stop Meriting Praise?

Emi Lou, my middle daughter, helped deliver that calf. She spent the first three days of its life snuggled up beside it, loving on it, brushing it, willing it to love her. She honestly couldn't believe that he would just lay and snuggle with her. Momma cow was fine with it. Emi Lou had shown her, too, and Emi Lou couldn't wait to show this little guy.

The third day, she came in from the barn, almost in tears. She said "Mom, I think Will (the calf) is blind. I know you have to fix him but I am afraid he won't lay with me anymore."

She was right, he was blind. His Momma had given birth last year to a calf that had gone blind, that calf had lived in my kitchen for two days. We knew in the back of our minds there was a possibility with this calf as well.

For some reason, Momma Cow was not passing Vitamin A through her milk to her calves and without that, they weren't getting what was required – a side effect of which is blindness. It's an easy fix with a shot, and now that we know this happens to all of her calves next year her calf will get the shot as soon as it's born.

Related: 4-H: 10 Years, 28 Calves and a Lifetime of Memories

I "fixed" Emi Lou's calf. I also told her repeatedly that he was not going to be old enough and therefore weigh enough to show at Congress or the County Fair. Much like her mother, my daughter is stubborn.

When we decided which calves to take to Congress, she looked me right in the eye and repeated my words right back at me: "Mom we aren't in it to win it – I want to take this calf, I don't care if he wins!"

The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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