Monday, February 28, 2011

Stock Show Season has come to a close.

It's hard to's over. The 2011 Stock Show Season ended almost as quickly as it began. As our family enjoyed the first Saturday at home (since the first of the year).....we ALMOST didn't know what to do with ourselves. I say almost because, well, we found plenty. There were pens to clean out.....trailer to clean out, show box to clean out, feed sacks to burn, and laundry, endless amounts of laundry to do! Regardless of the hangover, 2011 will go down in the books for our family as one of the most successful seasons we had. The boys seem to be pleased and we are as well!

The last stop on the tour was in San Angelo. Donnell and Lanham arrived on Friday and set up shop so that Lanham could participate in the Heifer Futurity. Our good friend, Sally Buxkemper, developed this contest years ago. It must be the best kept secret in the junior livestock business. Contestants have a variety of competitions which include: showmanship, judging classes, reasons classes and the sales talk competition. Lanham was fortunate enough to win the Jr Futurity a couple of years ago....but as a 14 yr old, he was now in the Sr. Division with the big boys. I think he may have finished somewhere around 8th or 10th. Congratulations to Brazos Williams for winning the Sr Division. There were approximately 25 young people in each the Jr and Sr divisions this year.

Saturday night was a fun-filled evening with friends. Allison Ballinger made us reservations at Zentners Daughter.....and 35-40 of us enjoyed the private room and great food / fellowship together. Then it was off to can never get enough rest of these deals.

Sunday we found ourselves preparing the heifers for their final show. Altogether we had 4 big heifers and one baby. They all "prettied" up well! Tucker and our Ole's Oscar Heifer took first in class again and found herself all the way to the winners circle. Judge Jim Williams made our day, when he commented that if he had an opportunity to name a Supreme Champion in San Angelo, he thought it might be her! Ollie sure did make some friends for Red Angus this year. She should calve very soon and Tucker is looking forward to utilizing her in his breeding herd for many years. From a parents perspective, we too were excited. San Angelo awards a $1000 scholarship and $500 prize money to the Grand. So little home raised "Ollie" brought in a total of $11,000 scholarship monies and $750 cash this year for Tucker.

2011 San Angelo Grand Champion - Brown Ms Oscar W6542

The other heifers had a great day as well. "Berry Contagious" won 1st in the January/February class with her baby at side. She is right at home in the pasture now and being set up to flush soon. I'm sure the Red Angus world will hear more about this cow as time passes. She will no doubt be a cornerstone breeding piece for us for a long time. She is a Mulberry / Cheyenne heifer with a Celebration heifer calf at side. Carson Ballinger is the little guy on the calf's halter. We are thankful for his energy and willingness to help.


 Second in this class of heifers was Lanham's very own, Gracies Pride. She is a Pacific Pride / Cherokee Canyon going back to our AbiGrace cow. Lanham is very pumped about this particular heifer.....not only is she a 2nd generation show heifer for him, but also holds the distinction of being the 2nd highest IMF scanning animal EVER at the ranch. Wonder what he'll do with her next? Digressing just a little, Lanham was chosen to return for showmanship and ended up Reserve Showman behind good friend, Colton Curry. Colton does a great job showing, and it just so happened that he was the one we asked to help us with our excess heifers in this class. Thanks to him for giving us a hand.

Brown Gracies Pride W7908

And finally, Tucker's second generation show heifer placed third in this same class. It was the first time to the big show for her, other than the county show. She is a Mulberry out of a Vacation / Cherokee daughter that we just love. She will calve in March and then find her way to Tuck's breeding herd (aka college fund) also.

Brown Ms Paradises Mulberry W7892

Guess, I should wrap this up. Maybe I've gone on too long as it is? Whatever the case, thanks for sharing it with us. There's something pretty unique about how much your kids can grow through the countless 4-H and FFA projects. It's just so nice when you have a time that you can actually say "See, I told you so". It's worth it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spring is Near!

Yes, I will admit.....if there is one thing I look forward to this time of is "making a circle" with the husband to look at the new babies. So when good friend, Jeff Diles, appeared on the ranch today.....I jumped at the opportunity to breathe it all in and make the circle. He drove straight to a pasture where a group of our two year old Red Angus heifers and their January babies were basking in this great sunshine. With camera in hand.....I had to snap a few. Hope you enjoy.

Jeff Diles & Donnell checking out the stock

Rocket baby

Peek A Boo with the mesquites

Bad Hair Day?

Gentle eyes

Don't be sticking your tongue out at these days!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

San Antonio in our rear view mirror!

What a week it was......San Antonio Stock Show 2011 will certainly go down in our history books as one of the best ever. On Monday, Donnell and Gary Mathiews headed south with two trailers full of equipment and livestock to begin the marathon week. They arrived safely and checked in our two Red Angus bulls for the All Breeds Bull Show/Sale.

Thanks be to Jason Spence for hooking us up with Mike Healey for the week. Mike provided some much needed help to Donnell in keeping the chores tended to for the duration. That may be the toughest part of the stock shows. We like to keep the boys in school as much as possible and it makes it difficult to "get it all done". Nevertheless, life goes on. Our plan was to leave after school on Wednesday for the boys to show on Thursday but mother nature had other things in mind. With the pending ice/snow storm approaching, we jumped ship and decided to leave town on Tuesday night after the basketball game. At 11:00 pm we joined up with another Throckmorton County heifer show family and headed towards San Antonio. Good decision.....even though we drove in some sleet and ice, the road to San Antonio was wet but not nearly as challenging as it might have been 24 hours later. Our heads hit the pillow at 4:30 am and we were up ready to go a few hours later.

Wednesday morning our Grand and Reserve Grand Red Angus bulls both sold at the All Breeds Bull Sale. Nevermind that they were the only two Red Angus bulls there! :) We kidded Donnell that it was a good thing that they were named Grand / Reserve. Thanks to Danny Ownbey and Lane Robinson for their investment in RAB genetics.

The rest of the day was spent washing / blowing and preparing the heifers for the show the next day. Although the week ended in success, it certainly wasn't without challenges. One of the our best heifers came up lame on Tuesday evening and it was discovered that she was suffering from foot rot in both a front and back foot (probably due to the crazy snow, rain, mud, ice that we had experienced the week before. Initially, it was a big blow to our week. We had BIG plans for her and this week in San Antonio. Plans that started way back in March when we AIed her so that she would calve in December and have a nice big calf at side for this particular show. That would potentially mean that she would be the only February heifer with a calf at side. And I don't mind saying.....she has a ringer heifer calf at side. The cow has a drop dead gorgeous udder and just plain "looks the part". I'm digressing some.....but basically, in San Antonio they drug test all of the winners so our hands were tied in terms of treating her with anything that would work on the footrot. And if it had been just "any old show" it wouldn't have been as disheartening. But, if you show heifers (as opposed to steers), San Antonio is the one show you want to win at least once. They award the Grand Champion a $10,000 scholarship. You can only win the scholarship once but it is certainly worth shooting for. Our youngest son, Lanham, won it in 2008 but we were running out of time with Tucker. He only had this year and next left. Every year, we have tried to help him pick out the "best" heifers.....but somehow, his younger brother always manages to get the upper hand in the ring. So this year.....we planned ahead, worked especially hard to get the cow/calf pair to SA.......and our best shot at winning the scholarship seemed to be going down the tubes with a crippled cow! As we fed and bedded down the stock Wednesday evening, the mood was somber and dreams of a "GRAND" were fading.

Thursday morning, back at the stock show grounds, life goes on. As the boys exercised the heifers.....the cow was still limping but better. All day was spent preparing for the ring. Wash, brush and blow. By 5 pm, we were ready for the Red Angus show. Tucker was first in the ring with his March bred heifer, Ollie. She won her class. Next up, Tucker and his cow/calf pair along with Lanham's Pacific Pride daughter. I think the judge loved the pair but it was obvious that he was concerned about her inability to travel. The class ended with the Brown boys taking 1st and 2nd in class.......Lanham won and Tucker's pair was 2nd. Yes, we were proud.....but inside, my stomach was turning flips as "the one", "THE one" that we felt had the chance at winning the scholarship.....was not going to.

My mind begins to race back through all the months of preparation. Starting with purchasing the heifer from our good friend, Clay Cowdrey, when the heifer was just a few months old.....times of showing her last year and then breeding her to calve before she was two years of age.....times of cold nights when Tucker was rinsing and blowing her (after returning home from a basketball game).....times of Donnell and I reminding him that "all of his hard work would pay off"......numerous times. As a parent it hurts to see your children disappointed. But, it is more bothersome to watch all of their preparation and hard work come up short, again.

This isn't the end to the San Antonio story. Thankfully, God had a bigger and better plan. Although there are lots of lessons yet to be learned, the one that comes to my heart now is to always be prepared with a "Plan B". Plan B was Tucker's March bred heifer....a pretty little Ole's Oscar / Cherokee Canyon daughter that was raised here at the ranch. We call her "Ollie" although now we might have to change it to "Plan B"! :) Ollie ended up winning her division and being named GRAND CHAMPION!
Grand Champion Red Angus Heifer ~ San Antonio 2011

We left San Antonio in the rear view mirror......realizing that even though obstacles happen......hard work can pay off. One of the judges kidded Donnell later about having a banner made for "922" (the cow / calf pair) saying.....THE ONE THAT SHOULD OF BEEN!

Throckmorton FFA Heifer Show Team - BIG day

Doesn't the smile say it all?

A little "Cow Whispering" prior to the Supreme Drive

In the ring - Supreme Drive

2011 San Antonio Supreme Drive

We're headed to San Angelo this coming weekend for the stock show. We will have Plan A, B and C with us! The show must go on.