Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rain Builds Character

Last weekend we started the spring show season for our family. Yes, I know it is Tatum’s project but everyone who has ever been involved in showing livestock knows that no matter what it becomes a family project. Oh, believe me, Tatum does her own work, and and Dad are nothing more than support stuff. If you see something wrong with one of her animals, it probably means I tried to help her out.

In any case, we started the show season last weekend. It was cold, wet and miserable, so much so, that if it had not been the first weekend we could show and had we not sent a non-refundable entry fee in, we probably would have stayed home. Don’t get me wrong, we watched the pictures come from friends in Western Kansas and we all decided that a lot of rain, strong winds and cold temperatures were not all that bad. After all, we could have been dealing with a foot of snow, strong winds and colder temperatures.

To make matters even worse, Tatum was sick that morning. I know, we are bad parents and probably should have made her stay home and rest, but that was not an option when it was the first weekend of show season. Doctors and medicine were just going to have to wait until after the show.

The day started out dry and we felt lucky to get the lambs washed and all the tack loaded without getting wet. The original plan had been to wash the steers too but it seemed pointless given the amount of mud they would have to walk through. A fateful decision to wash them at the show was made.

The rain started while we were on the road, we discussed how lucky we were to have gotten as much done as we did while it was dry. The decision to not wash the steers hung over us, though. Surely there would be a break in the rain and we could get them washed in the relative dry. It was noted that the temperature was dropping and the wind was picking up, both were not good signs. It might have been mentioned by someone in the truck that if her parents loved her enough they would have built an indoor washing facility.

We unloaded in the rain. I pulled up as close to the sheep barn as possible then circled the block, got myself in a tight pinch and with my masterful, trailer driving skills I finally made it back around with the steers (minus the wiring still being attached to the plug as I would find out later). All of this was done and lambs were checked in with an hour to spare before the show. At this point the rain was only a light sprinkle and I suggested that it would be a good time to go ahead and wash the steers before the heavy rain moved back in.

Funny thing about that. Just as the steers were soaped up and we had reached the point of no return the rain cut loose. Again, the indoor washing facility at home was mentioned along with my inability to read and interpret a radar. Since this is Tatum’s project I watched and sympathized from the nearest relatively dry spot. However, it became apparent that the steers did not enjoy being washed in a cold rain with a stiff North wind blowing and I had to jump in and help. That was when we realized that we had not brought nearly enough warm clothes or a change of jeans and socks. OK, the prepared teenager had but the Dad who thought he was only an assistant and truck driver did not. There are very few things in life that I dislike more than wet jeans and socks.

After what seemed like hours we got the steers relatively rinsed out and took the wet, shivering, grumpy steers to weigh in. Then it was time for Tatum to get dressed for the sheep show and I was left with two steers who needed to be blown dry. My only instructions were not to mess it up too badly. Such confidence in my abilities. I realized as I was blow drying two cranky steers in my very wet clothes in a very cold wind as my daughter changed into dry clothes in a heated restroom that I had fallen down the seniority chart from management to grunt labor.

The day went on with the usual high spots and not so high spots. All in all, we did good, had some great family bonding around the heater in the car in between shows and built up a lot of character. Although it was once again mentioned that character building is not nearly as important as wash room building. After some nice long, hot shower and dry clothes that night I started to see her point about the heated wash room, but then again you never can discount the value of character.

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