This past weekend wrapped up one of the most wonderful times of the year for us: show season. The Beef Expo which is held the third week in October is our last hurrah for the year before we roll up the show gear and pack it away.

I am always mixed in my feelings for this show as the kids are back in school, activities are ramping up there and showing cattle becomes more challenging due to the changes in season. At the same time it is such a precious time for us as a family. And for that reason, I never want to see it come to a close.

We went out with a bang this year. No big championships, no blue ribbons but something very unexpected proved to make this a memorable weekend for us all. This show is a junior show, which means that in addition to showing cattle the event offers a variety of opportunities for our kids to participate in. There is also a sale, and several breeders of all walks of life will bring cattle to sell on the auction.

My son Wyatt has been saving his dollars and watching for an opportunity to purchase a new heifer to add to his small personal herd, and he had decided that if the price was right he had one he was going to bid on. Interestingly enough the bidding part is not exactly his cup of tea, so he employed the help of his dad to go through the actual process.

Now none of us expected this heifer to be in our price range. We anticipated that she would sell too high for Wyatt. But, we got a bidding number ... just in case.

As it turned out my husband decided to make this a learning experience for our youngest son and set him up to do the bidding. Auction sales can be fast and furious, and it takes precision to pay attention and bid at the right time.

That being said, all of us were brimming with anticipation when the heifer walked into the sale arena and the bidding began. I could not say exactly when my husband jumped into the bidding, but when he did, he directed the auctioneer to watch my 10-year-old for future bids ever so subtly and the race was on.

For all of a minute and a half, I watched as father taught son the art of bidding in a live sale. It was so fun to watch. Best of all, we purchased the heifer! It was so much excitement and reward, all wrapped up into two minutes.

What happened next was the best part of all. As we approached the breeder and seller of the heifer, who we have been acquainted with for some time, he made it apparent in his voice and action that he was going to help my boys learn all they could from him. What transpired the rest of the weekend was a wonderful opportunity to watch my oldest and youngest boys learn from a master some of the tricks of the trade and glean valuable information from a generational cattleman.

The moral of the story? Blue ribbons are great and fun, but the future of the cattle business is wrapped up in great experiences like this one for which I am so thankful. Hazel, our new heifer, is home safe and sound, and my son Wyatt made his first official purchase as a cattleman. Best of all, it was a family affair none of us will soon forget.