Growing up showing livestock, especially market animals, was a real eye opener. You raise these animals, create an attachment with them, and at the end of the show season you send them off to the slaughter house. I remember that my friends couldn’t believe that the cute fluffy steer in the corral was going to be eaten. I would try to explain this unusual relationship to them, but for most they just don’t understand. Being a farm kid is a different lifestyle. We know that animals serve a purpose other than companionship, and we feel a bit of honor to be able to be with them for such a short period of time, and give them a special life. For us we spend a small part of our lives with them, but for the livestock they spend all of their lives with us.
What most don’t realize is how much care and how much these animals really do mean to us. My steers had an air conditioner and were bathed daily. They ate nothing but the best and were pampered every morning and night. I would wake up at 5 a.m. and go feed before school, and then give them a quick rinse and put them in the air conditioned room with two huge fans blowing on them. This was all done before I could even think about eating breakfast or getting myself ready for school. Yeah, it sounds crazy. Making their short times on this earth special was a must though, and winning was also fun.
It might sound cruel to some that haven’t had the experience to witness this. I’m not saying that it’s easy to let your blue ribbon show pig go at the end of the year, but I am saying that its life. The animal has a great life and never suffers at the end of its time. It’s all done humanely and quickly. It toughens you up, and helps you realize just how valuable life is. For someone to be able to eat at night, this pig, cow, goat, sheep, or chicken has to lose its life.
I would argue with anyone that would say showing livestock is pointless. Showing livestock has made more kids develop character that playing a video game could never teach them. For these young showmen and women, they wake up and feed their livestock, they go to school ready to go home and see their livestock, they skip going out and getting in trouble to be with their livestock, and at night they work with their livestock. Integrity, dedication, morals, hard work, responsibility, money management, and time management are all things that you learn working with a barn animal.
I was raised in a barn pretty much, and I turned out just fine. I’m not emotionally scarred from sending my prized steer Sabotage to the slaughter house. In fact showing livestock helped me receive a respect and love for agriculture. These kids start out showing with hopes of winning Grand Champion, but leave the show season with so much more than trophies, buckles, and banners.
It really is funny, how some barn animal can change your life. My challenge for everyone is to go out to your local show and watch a livestock show. Go in the back of the barn before it starts and talk to some kids about how they feel about putting their animal on a trailer and sending it off at the end of the year. I guarantee you that you’ll get the same response I just gave you.
“For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak eats vegetables. The man who eats everything must not
look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does. For God has accepted them.” – Romans 14:2-3