The perfect backdrop for raising kids |

The perfect backdrop for raising kids

The dog days of summer are behind us, and it’s back to school for families. Fall sports are back in full swing, and parents may find themselves in the bleachers cheering as their favorite football player scores a touchdown or their trumpet player marches in the band.

The passing of seasons is both exciting and bittersweet. Closing the chapter on summer means parking the camper, closing the pool, packing up the baseball bats, and saying “goodbye” to the hustle and bustle of the county and state fair.

For farm and ranch kids, it can be especially bittersweet as they close a chapter on the livestock projects they have spent a year working on. Market steers head to the locker. Show heifers are turned out on the pasture to begin their careers as working mama cows. And the 4-H record books are completed, documenting another year of growing, learning, and gaining maturity, wisdom, and knowledge of the livestock industry.

This summer, our daughter has been working so hard on her first heifer — a fall-born calf she named Jubilee. Each day, Scarlett washed, brushed, and blowed her heifer’s hair. She walked Jubilee, and practiced setting her up. She was coached by her dad and I, and we encouraged her to be tough, to watch the judge, to keep smiling, and to have fun no matter what.

We set a goal for her to show for the first time at the South Dakota State Fair. We had her heifer puppy-dog tame, and Scarlett couldn’t wait to have her turn in the ring.

As luck would have it, Jubilee came into heat the day before the show. Needless to say, our evening walk to exercise Jubilee was not so fun, and I worried that the heifer would be too hard to handle for Scarlett the next morning.

The day of the show, Scarlett was confident as ever, and I was a nervous wreck. You know how protective us mama bears get, and I was bracing myself for all of the worst case scenarios to play out.

But giving the same advice I gave Scarlett, I put on a smiling face. It was show time! No time for nervous Nellies!

Watching our oldest child step into the ring that I first walked into myself at age 8 — well, it stirred up a lot of emotions for me. Scarlett had grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even church friends in the stands cheering her on. And Scarlett proudly marched into the ring with Jubilee, visited with the judge about her project, and earned herself the Reserve Champion honors and a slap on her heifer’s hip.

She was ecstatic! And this mama was relieved that she had a good time, didn’t get hurt, and her heifer didn’t get away. If you’ve ever shown livestock, you know what I mean!

And while the banners are awesome, and it was sure exciting to see that big old grin on Scarlett’s face, that’s certainly not why we show cattle.

We show to teach our kids to set a goal. To show up each day. To learn from their mistakes. To grow and get better every day.

To have faith, to commit their work to the Lord, and to give all the glory to God.

To keep trying even when it gets hard. To understand that excuses don’t work in the real world. To “buck up” when the going gets tough.

To balance the pomp and circumstance of the show ring with the practicality and financial responsibility that comes with raising cattle that can be part of a working ranch.

To be a part of a community with the same values as our own. To celebrate our love of land and livestock.

To do a “sport” that the whole family can be a part of. To continue to build on a multi-generation business.

To learn how to lose graciously and to win with humility. To cheer on others for their success.

To continue family traditions. To make memories together, and to fill the scrapbook with special moments.

No it’s not about trophies and banners. It’s about so much more. I’m so blessed to be a part of this beef cattle industry I love — the perfect backdrop for raising kids!

Amanda Radke


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