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Showing animals at the fair is hard work. (Brenda Rudolph/Special to Agweek)

There are no tears in showing cows

Everett has been busy working on his non-livestock and livestock projects for the county fair next week. Added to the mix this year is a pig. Taking animals to the fair is a lot of hard physical work and a lot of going back and forth. Doing chores at home and chores at the fair. Late nights and way too early mornings.

When animals have a halter on for the very first time, they are really not sure what is going on. We, as handlers, need to keep our patience and our emotions in check. When the kids start working with their animals for the first time, I let them lose the animal and run around by themselves chasing them. My theory is, they will hold on a little tighter or longer or dig their heels in a little deeper next time because it is frustrating to try catch a calf or heifer who does not want to be caught.

The first time Vivian lost Caramel while practicing in the yard, the tears came. It broke my heart to have to tell my daughter, "There is no crying in showing cows. It is hard work. We can get frustrated, but we have to keep our emotions in check. Wipe your tears and go catch Caramel. If you want to do this, there are no tears."

Vivian nodded her head, wiped her tears and went after Caramel. "There are no tears" is a hard line to navigate. As a mom I always tell my children, "You can be mad. You can be upset. Tell me how you feel. It is OK to cry. It is OK to be disappointed." I want my children to know their feelings are validated.

To say there is no crying in showing seems harsh. Through the years, Everett understands and has been taught why there is no crying in showing — we are working with animals. Animals need a handler who they can trust. When animals are in the ring, it is all new to them.

If the animal begins to panic, the handler needs to keep it in check so the animal trusts the handler. They are animals, and they go off instinct. The animal can, at any moment, decide to do something different. We need to keep our emotions in check so we can read our animals as best we can.

Even at the fair, when I see kids about to have a meltdown, I tell them it is OK to take a break. Go get a drink of water, walk around the barn, then come back and get your work done. There are lots of disappointments when it comes to showing and taking projects to the fair. It breaks my heart to see kids who work so hard with a smile, then are disappointed with the results.

There are tears in showing, and there are tears in farming. I can't count how many times I have cried in our own barn during chores out of fear, sadness and just plain disappointment. I have also cried in happiness. I hope I can be the mom my kids can come to with their disappointments, because sometimes tears are a good thing and they are needed. Through tears we are giving encouragement — we did really well at this, but need to work on this. So in the end, sometimes there are tears in showing.