January 16, 2016
The big event down on the south Texas coast this week is the 81st Nueces County Junior Livestock Show going on at the Robstown Fairgrounds. The kids who bring their animals to this show are aged 8-19 years old. They are all members of 4-H and FFA clubs who put in a lot of time and energy raising and showing goats, steers, swine, rabbits, chickens – more than 1,000 critters were brought to barns the first morning.
This is serious business. Big money comes at the end as local folks pay big bucks for the winners: the grand champion steer sold for $21,000 this year. It’s money for college for these kids. It’s also an important life lesson for all of them. The work and responsibility it takes to raise these animals goes on for most of a year.
And don’t be surprised when you see an 11 year old boy leading a 1,200 pound steer into the arena for the judges to see. I was totally surprised to find out that all unruly animals will be disqualified from the show. So, I got to chuckling when I read about one girl’s method of preparing her Yorkshire swine, Titan, to compete. Leila says: “We have to have bonding time. We had to sit there in front of him and hold vanilla wafers in our hand.” And after four months of working on bonding, she gets this big boy to behave in the ring.
This process of raising and showing animals instills in each participant a deep sense of responsibility and willingness to work for months and months to just have the opportunity to be in the show ring for a few minutes, hoping they will be a winner. The result is a wonderful maturation process that makes these kids winners whether they get a ribbon or not. You wished they lived next door when you hear them talk on tv about their critter and how long they have been coming to the shows. This whole process is a powerful influence that sticks in the mind and soul – and that unites families with memories that last forever.
Another cool event that helps girls appeared in the paper this week. It’s a school that teaches them how to rock and roll. The founder is right about having a place where only girls form the rock group – away from the negative stuff boys throw at them in bands. And they rock. A 12 year old on lead guitar can flat out play. The idea is to use music to help build girls self-esteem. Chicasrock.org. Check it out. This is a great idea that will work in every city. All is well on the kitty ranch, although I’ve been a bit under the weather and that’s why Skywatch has been late. But I’m back in the saddle and happy to send this new edition to you. Better days are ahead.