Raising a $40,000 Grand Champion Steer takes dedication and family support
August 10, 2018
Responsibility, accountability, dedication are not words taken lightly in the Pfannebecker home. They are words to live by.
Jacob Pfannebecker's Grand Champion steer, Reagan was bought by G & M Implement, Inc. in Greeley Colo, for a record high bid of $40,000 at the 100th Weld County Fair.
"Those kids work so hard." said Mary Pfeif, an owner of G & M Implement. "We want to support the 4-H and FFA programs. We feel it is so important, for the future of agriculture."
Making a Grand Champion steer is not just teaching the calf to be lead around, or brushing its coat, or throwing feed at it a couple of times a day. It's is so much more. It is an agriculture way of life filled with commitment, responsibility, dedication and a sincere fervor for the lifestyle.
"These ag kids are working, said Jacob's mother Sarah Pfannebecker. "They give up summers. When other kids are sleeping in and playing video games these kids are up at 6 in the morning."
"It teaches a whole new level of responsibility." said Jacob's father Phil Pfannbecker.
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A FAMILY AFFAIR
The whole family takes pride in Jacob's accomplishment because they know that it took all of them for him to get there. The whole family is united and works together. One member's, success is every member's success.
Phil said that they tried to do the sport thing, but the family was always divided, going different ways to different practices or games. They realized that all the kids not only enjoyed showing but had a true passion for it.
"As a family this is our vacation." Phil said. "We go look at calves starting in September."
"You know you want to go out with your friends, but then I'm like, I have my calves, so I have to figure that out," Jacob said. "If I can't go … well I'm committed to this."
Jacob's younger brother Justin also shows cattle. Often, they work together with their cattle. If one brother has some place he really wants to be, the other brother will cover for him and vice versa. Elizabeth, their older sister, has also shown and helps when she is home from college in Texas.
CHOOSING THE CALF
"What was cool is that me and my Dad picked out Reagan," Jacob said. "The whole time we just believed in him. The whole way."
When Phil and Jacob got Reagan home, mom Sarah and sister Elizabeth were not fans.
Sarah was worried that he was too tall and the judges didn't tend to reward cattle like that.
"He was tall and skinny and so, so hairy," Sarah said. "Every year we have a theme when we name the calves. This year we went with a presidential theme. We have Trump in the barn. We named Jacob's calf Reagan because he was tall and skinny, but also because like president Reagan we didn't really appreciate him until later."
Even though Sarah and Elizabeth had their doubts Jacob could see that Reagan had the frame he was looking for. He was soft bellied, and he put his feet down nice when he walked and most importantly he was very sound.
Jacob was confident that with good feed management and care he could build a quality steer on a good foundation.
Seeing his sons walk into a pasture of 100 head of calves and instantly evaluate them gave Phil an enormous sense of pride. He knew that it was a skill that they would use for the rest of their lives as they continued in agriculture.
"It was our hope that they would take those lessons away from this," Phil said. "It's not about the money,"
The Pfannebecker family are so grateful to Glen and Mary Pfeif's, owners of G & M Implement, for their support of the 4-H program. G & M Implement also bought Justin Pfannbecker's Grand Champion steer last year. When Jacob was in the ring at the sale with Reagan he thought the auctioneer said $3,900, instead of $39,000.
"When I realized it was $40,000 I thought, wow that's a lot," he said. "It was hard to wrap my head around. It was shocking, but I was so grateful."
"A lot of the oil and gas companies and businesses in Greeley really showed up at the sale. I don't think they get enough recognition for what they've done for the community." Phil said.
Jacob plans to use most of his new-found fortune to attend college at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., and study agriculture business. With ag in his roots he has already begun to grow a small herd. His ultimate goal is to show cattle from his own line. For now, he has one more year to show in 4-H before he will be too old. In September, the Pfannebeckers will head out in search of another Ronald Reagan. ❖
— Hall is a freelance writer from Platteville, Colo., when she's not writing she is riding her horse in the mountains. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.