Not a literal hang over but truly it has taken a little more than a week to recover from the eight day circus known as Junior Nationals. It was our fourth trip to a Junior National and our one of choice is the combined Maine Anjou/Chi Junior National although there a variety to choose from. Lucky for us it was our second adventure back to Grand Island, Nebraska and folks I could write a whole book about those facilities. If you want to see a barn done right for cattle, the Nebraska State Fairgrounds Beef Barn is my pick!
Junior Nationals is our summer family trip and by time the week is over I am wondering if I need my head examined. We get up every day around 6:30 am or earlier on some show days, and we rarely leave the barns before 9 pm. The heat and other factors require us to spend pretty much all day in the barns with the few head we’ve taken. So life revolves around the cattle and whatever kid activity is designated for that day. In many ways, a way slower pace than most other days for us. So we get plenty of QTT (quality time together) and enjoy the week with each other and other show families we've met along the way.
So why a working vacation for us? The answer for me is three part.
#1 The learning opportunity-We tell the kids, how else do you learn from the best in the business but to go hang out and watch the best in the business. Keith and I didn’t grow up showing cattle like this. We started out behind the power curve. All five of us learn something(s) that we did not know before we got there. Each year we get a little more under our belt and each year I feel like we tackle something new that one of the “old pros” taught us. My kids will know way more about this industry by the time they graduate high school then I do today, and that is awesome! By then, I'll be in a lawn chair full-time watching them work, I hope.
#2 The Contests-Junior Nationals is about so much more than just showing the cattle. The kids get the chance to participate in Showmanship, Quiz Bowl, Livestock Judging, Fitting Contests and many more contests that enhance their knowledge about our industry. I can’t tell you how much they have learned but I learn each time I sit through a Quiz Bowl match or read over their Stockman’s Challenge test.
#3 The People-And I would say that this is by far my favorite reason for going to Junior Nationals. Each year we meet at least two or three new families that enjoy ranching or showing cattle as much as we do. We have met people from across the country and all over our state that make the annual trip hard to miss. We hang out with other people from our state that we see at other shows but rarely have time to visit with. We get to know other good kids and are amazed at how much they grow in knowledge and skill each year as we come back together. We laugh together and lean on each other when we need too and I have another network of friends through out the country.
So highlights from this year included driving all night because of the heat, a blown tire on the stock trailer on I-35, the hubby leaving me for two days to fly out for a work ‘thing’, a heifer with a serious attitude and YES we’ll do it all over again the next chance we get!