(^My sheep, "Staples," and I)
I’ve tried to put into words, about what it means for the first time in my life to be truly “too old,” for something that I love to do. Although throughout the years I don’t have ton of grand champion banners to hang, I earned something better. I gained friends that turned into family, which I am forever grateful. I learned to hold a competitive and hardworking spirit that has allowed me “win,” outside of the showring in the bigger show called life.
If my current self would’ve seen how the beginner showman in me showed, she probably would have cringed a little at the thought of showing sheep that their tails are not completely docked, and her showmanship style was very basic. But those were the moments, the several years of getting placed dead last at my county fair, that make me appreciate all the wins big and small that I have earned over the years.
Several years ago it started with an 8th grade girl convincing her dad to buy show lambs, instead of continuing to show our home raised commercial lambs…and today it ends, or more so the journey changes a little. The first show lambs we bought, were from “Blondie Show Lambs,” or Danielle Holmes, and today it is fitting that the last the lamb I showed was also from her. The bitter sweet end to a beautiful journey.
The more I think about my showing career the last several years, the more I feel the quotes, “it takes a village,” seems fitting. From Danielle Holmes teaching me everything I know, especially in the beginning, taking the time to teach me how to show, clip, and feed. To all the friends who have turned into family and helped me out along the way, whether it be helping me haul my lambs places, to helping me clip my lambs out when I had gotten my wisdom teeth pulled, to the ones who sawing me showing, and gave me a few tips along the way.
And especially to my parents, for my Mom always making me snacks to take along, and celebration cakes when I do well, and to my Dad for literally always willing to take me across the country showing. My parents aren’t the ones who knew everything about showing sheep, my dad knows how to Raise sheep, just not show them competitively. But they were always there to support me and my crazy adventures, and help point me in the right direction to learn everything I could. So thanks Mom and Dad for everything, and for my 3 older brothers for always picking up the slack at home on the farm when we were gone showing, or doing my chores for me when I was gone.
So I may not be ending my career with a national show banner hanging behind me, but I end with something a little sweeter. I’m ending with being part of an amazing community filled with memories. I’m ending with hard lessons learned, that if you want to sit down and not work for it, then it will never come your way. Sometimes hard work isn’t enough, but if you don’t work hard your already taking yourself out of the running.
(^My winnings I earned this summer)
And to all the young exhibitors out there, we learn from our losses, and we work hard for our wins, and never underestimate the showman placed last, one day they too might find their chance towards the top.
Today, for once, I am too old to be a junior showman, but I know it will always still be a big part of my life, as it truly taught me what it’s like to work hard and lose, and what it’s like to work hard and win. I truly put my blood, sweat, and tears into becoming a better sheep showman, it’s part of the reason I decided to major in agricultural education, because I like to teach other showman how to show. It’s part of the reason I have more loans for my flock of show lambs than I do for student loans. And I wouldn’t trade it all for the world, so enjoy it all while you can.