Alliance, Nebraska

After my last article submission our family loaded up five pigs, two goats, and three steers and headed to the county fair. Credit goes out the two ranch employees that hold down the fort to enable our family to go have a working vacation 24 miles away at the county fair for five days each year. While the kids brought home honors in every species, we were most honored to have won the top honor in the very competitive beef show with a home raised steer. We A.I. a few cows every year to some clubby bulls. Last fall, my oldest son picked out this Here I Am bred calf out of a Thriller cow. He reported to us throughout the year how his calf just kept getting better and started visualizing the moment of success. It’s always a special moment when the fruits of your labor and dreams come to fruition.

While the awards and honors are nice, they are never my favorite memories of fair. My most treasured moments are watching our leaders of tomorrow develop from a shy 8-year-old to the very confident 18 year old in their last year of 4-H and getting ready to head off to college. It’s watching a great group of kids work so hard to get their animals ready for show, work competitively in the how ring, and then when the show is over they go work in the junior leaders pop booth. And then when that shift is completed, they go clean the breezeway and sweep the bleachers. When the superintendents are setting up for the next show, this same group of kids grab a panel or gate and go to work as well. One of my most treasured memories this year was watching a part of this same group of kids gather for a radio interview and listening knowing that they are not only the future of agriculture, but the leaders of tomorrow!

Personally, for my own family, I call fair a success because I was able to witness my children grow and mature through their projects and activities. I watched my daughter deal with the disappointment of having lameness issues in her horses and handle with grace and maturity not being able to compete in any of the riding events at the fair. I got to hear the champion intermediate swine showman thank me that my oldest son had been his mentor and taught him everything. He said it was an honor to go in the show ring with him to compete for the overall prize and that he still has hopes to beat him someday. I listened to my youngest son and his friends come up with an entrepreneurship idea for the junior leaders club for next year. When they saw the younger kids were spending all their money in a claw vending machine they decided that was something the junior leaders group should research investing in to put next to the pop booth for addition income opportunities. There is no doubt that these 4-H activities are shaping our youth into critical thinkers, leaders, and people of resilience.

You may remember in the introductory article that Kerry Hoffschneider wrote about me in the July 17 edition that one of my passions in life is teaching the next generation about this agricultural way of life. Besides being a supporter and volunteer for 4-H and the county fair I had another chance to do that when we got home from the fair. We had about 90 acres of sorghum we were chopping to put in the bottom of our silage pit. While the kids are usually so busy with going back to school and sports activities at harvest time it hasn’t allowed them a lot of time to be involved with those operations. The start of school was pushed back a few days to allow a construction project to get finished so this brought just the opportunity to teach my son to drive the truck. While he had driven an automatic silage truck before he had never driven the 10-speed tandem truck. I drove the first load and then rode with him the rest of the day. He was ready to go solo the next day and that was a good thing since I was leaving to take my daughter to Bassett for the first High School Rodeo of the season.

The weather has continued the same pattern in the panhandle: hot, dry, and spotty patches of light rain. We weaned a second group of calves this past week and will wean the rest of them this Friday. Also, on the agenda in the next two weeks is planting some alfalfa, doing feedlot pen repairs to get ready for the fall run of cattle, and getting ready for harvest. It will be here before we know it! — Shauna Meyring