When Margaret cheered in the office the other day upon receiving the digital copy of her professional cow photo, I went back in my mind. I couldn’t help but think of my days of showing and that professional photo that still sits on my bookshelf.
Pictures are now sent digitally, and they have fancier coloring and touch ups. The cow genetics have exponentially gotten better, but the excitement still remains … as evidenced just last week with the cheer.
And I remember …
I remember stepping into farm offices on farm calls, walls donned with professional cow pictures, tributes to their farm’s cow families. The pictures glowed with pride. The layer of dust acting as an illumination to the time that had passed since their day in the ring as the champion.
The pictures gave nod to the clock that keeps ticking, the chores that are done every day, the sweat and the tears that are shed over these great cows … and a life of breeding and showing them.
Countless hours were spent combing through the studbooks trying to make the perfect match.
Nine months of waiting. Is it a heifer or a bull?
Frozen fingers, hand-feeding grain on bleak winter nights. Always a race for high rates of growth.
First time on a halter, head down, a drag down the laneway.
Hot summer days spent leading in a circle at the center of the farm yard. Stopping, setting up. Pushing on her shoulder, let’s try that again.
A jingle of the halter chain to keep her awake.
I think she might be a good one …
Hours at the show spent leaning on the pitchfork, ready to catch the plop. Questions of pedigree, speculation … talk of cow families with other farmers.
Praying that she didn’t come into heat on show day.
Cold mornings on the wash rack, steam rising off of their soaking, hunched bodies.
Black hoof paint and Showsheen, whites and a prayer.
Sizing up the competition as everyone gathers to go into the ring, doubts …
Sweat on your brow, fly on her back, swish of the tail. And we walk in.
Will she get her picture on the wall?
A nod and a point and a go to the head of the line.
I see blue …
To all the great cow families hanging on the wall. Thank you.