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All in a day’s work

In the summer time, my friends always wonder why I can’t “hang out” with them.

While they are going to the pool or the movies, I am home every day working on my show heifers. Each and every day, I have to feed, wash, brush and blow dry my show heifers. It takes several hours, but I really enjoy doing it. Don’t get me wrong ... Every once in a while I get to hang out with them at the pool or movies.

Many of my friends wonder why I work so hard all summer. Well, I love showing cattle, and in order to do well at the shows, you have to work hard at home. In this article, I’m going to tell you about a typical summer day for me as I work with my show heifers.

Each day, we start early in the morning by catching them in their pasture and leading them to the barn. Each show heifer gets their own pen with nice bedding and several fans to keep them cool. It is important to get them into the barn and under the fans before it gets hot.

Breakfast time! After they are in their stall, we feed them their breakfast. We usually give them an hour or so to eat before we start washing. It is important to blow out all the dirt in their hair before you wash them. I have to wash them every day because we show Herefords, and their whites faces have to be REALLY white. Washing is my favorite activity during the day!

After you wash them, you spray sheen in their hair and brush them really well. You first brush their hair down to make sure they don’t have any curls. Then you brush, brush, brush and comb the hair forward. You can’t miss a single spot – legs, belly, sides, neck, head and tail.

Then we take them back inside and blow them dry in their stall. It takes a REALLY powerful blower to dry an entire cow. The one we use is like using 30 of the driers that people use on their hair! When using the blower, blow forward starting at the front and work back, this will prevent you from creating lines in the hair. This time of year you don’t have to blow completely dry, as this keeps them cooler, and sometimes you can brush them dry, stimulating the hair.

By washing them every day and working with their hair a lot, you hope their hair grows long and straight. The fans help keep them cool, too. Also, the less sunlight the hair sees the more it will grow. You want your cattle to have a lot of hair, so you can make them look pretty when they go to the show.

We always tie our show heifers with their heads up and encourage it to stand in the show position as much as possible. This will get them accustomed to this stance and ready for the show ring. Show day can be a long and tiring day if the heifer isn’t used to standing for long periods of time. This will make your life a lot easier come show day.

At night, we feed them supper and then turn them back out into their pasture. We try to do this close to dark, so that it is cool outside. When they go out in their pasture, we provide them a lot of fresh hay to keep them full.

Whew! What a day, but I love it! I feel truly blessed to live on a farm and to show cattle. I can’t imagine life any other way!

Lauren McMillan is a seventh-grader at Logan Junior High School and works on her family cattle farm in Tiskilwa.

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