Some days I’ll win, some days I’ll lose ... at least that’s what my mother always told me. As a young calf, my mother would tell me stories of the legacy our family has to this farm, the champion legacy. My mom was a champion; my grandma was a champion; and even my sister was a champion ... and now I’m expected to be a champion. Before I can be a champion, though, I have to make it to the show ring. The ring will be a part of my story because my life will be a constant run for the purple.
I was born on a cold, snowy, winter evening. At first my mom wrapped her body around mine and cuddled me to keep warm. In the morning, a human came and found me. He weighed me, vaccinated and helped me nurse on my mom, so I would stay healthy. The first few weeks of my life was spent in a pen with a few other cows and calves, until I joined even more pairs. I have always known who my mother was, but I never knew my father. I ask about him from time to time, but my mother just tells me that I am a product of modern science. I have heard that my dad was quite a champion too.
Winter transitions to summer, and I find myself getting bigger and stronger. I live a normal calf life, chasing butterflies, hanging out with the other calves, playing tag and getting what they call the routine vaccinations. I keep noticing, though, that my older sister keeps disappearing on the weekends. Maybe she is going to shows like my mom said she did. I also notice that people are coming to look at me. They talk with my human for awhile, and then they leave. My mom said not to worry, though, because people are beginning to notice me.
I find summer transforming into fall, and it is time to say goodbye to mom because it is weaning day. I am sorted to a different pen, away from most of my other friends. In this pen many things change. The humans put me on a halter and expect me to stand still and then walk. What do they think I am, a dog? After awhile though, I just give in and do what they want. They have also started spraying cold water and soap on me. This was kind of a shock at first, but I kind of like it now. Then they started to blow the cold water off of me with what they called a blow dryer. This so called blow dryer blew warm air that felt good and made my hair fluffy. After they were done with the blow dryer, they brushed me out and put some good smelling spray in my hair. I was also fed different food that tasted sweet and crunchy, but I kind of like it.
Fall turned into winter, and winter turned to spring. It is warmer now, and I can tell it is time to get serious now. We are getting a bath almost every day, and they are using more products on our hair. I am introduced to a show halter that is leather instead of rope, and a show stick that they use to rub my belly. Now instead of just standing still, they expect me to be able to stand still in a special pose. I am starting to like all this pampering though, especially since I get to go into an air conditioned building every day while everyone else is out in the heat.
Spring turns to summer and it is time for the first show. My human loads me into a trailer, and we set out on our journey. When we first arrive at the show I am very excited. There are many different people, calves and noises. We are at this new place for a few days, but one morning they wake me up when it is still dark. Then they give me a bath and blow dry me. When they finally feed me, it is just starting to get light outside. I have decided that it is show day, and the mood is serious. I go into a grooming chute, where the humans make my hair look good; then they put a show halter on me, and we head to the show ring.
As I approach the show ring, I get more and more nervous. When I see my competition, I start to doubt that I could win. My human and I walk into the ring together; we are a team. The judge looks over all of us and places me first! Shortly after that we went back into the ring for the breed champion drive. Again the judge looks over all of us, and walks over to my human and shakes her hand. We won! We are moving on to the grand champion drive!
We go back to our stall for a while, for final touch ups and primping. We only stay here for a short time and head back to the show ring. Now there are calves that look different than I look; they must be different breeds. We all walk into the show ring, and I start to wonder if I can win and live up to the champion legacy. We have been in the show ring for a long time. The judge keeps looking at me and then back at another calf. Then the judge approaches me and gives me the grand champion slap on the back and shakes my human’s hand. The day finally came, the day I lived up to the champion legacy.
Now I stand before my calf telling her of the champion legacy, the same thing my mother told me when I was a young calf. And as I look at the twinkle in her eye as she walks into the sunlit pasture, I know she has the heart of a champion.
Jessica Carlson is a seventh-grader at Malden Grade School and is an instrumental part in maintaining her grandfather’s cattle farm in rural Malden.