While I was bathing my newborn daughter, I thought about how raising and showing livestock prepared me for this time of motherhood.
Showing livestock prepared me for the hard work and patience motherhood requires. Because raising and showing livestock takes many hours of patience and hard work. It all starts at home in the barn after the animal arrives.
Much like when a newborn arrives home and the real work begins.
Even though it has been many years since I led a calf into the show ring, I can’t help but think about how showing livestock prepared me for becoming a new mother.
Here are the 7 ways showing livestock prepared me for motherhood. If you can think of anymore, please put it into the comments!
What is Sleep?
I remember traveling to shows with family and livestock. It was common to only acquire about 4-5 hours of sleep per night. The main reason for this was because we stayed late at the barn and arrived early the next morning.
It was a race to be the first workers to the barn to begin washing the cattle. Depending on which show we were at, there was limited space to give our cattle their daily bath. We also needed power to plug in our blow dryers and sometimes that was limited as well.
So, we tried to get there as early as we could before anyone else. I remember 3:30 a.m. quite a lot. It was a quiet and calm time to be at the barns, just us.
The rest of the day we stayed in the barn watching and caring for the livestock. We took cat naps when we could. Sleep was vital for our moods, after all!
At the end of the day, we waited for our cattle to bed down for the night. Once they were content, it was time for us humans to head out and get some sleep ourselves.
Showing livestock prepared me for the lack of sleep I would eventually receive as a mother.
Feeding on a schedule
Our livestock were fed at the same time every day to prevent them from tummy upsets and going off-feed. A healthy diet of protein, minerals, roughage and other nutrients helped our cattle to grow and look their best.
If we were a minute late with the feed, the cattle knew it. And they cried until they got what they wanted. Much like a baby.
Our show animals were bathed or rinsed with water regularly. Especially in the summer time for keeping hair long and fluffy.
At home, it wasn’t a huge deal to keep the animals clean and spotless. But, at the shows, we tried to keep the animals clean and presentable.
This is quite the ordeal when showing primarily white animals. Keeping them clean was always a challenge.
Cleaning up messes
Our animals’s stalls and pens at the shows were to be kept clean. One of the reasons we stayed in the show barn was so we could catch the manure when (or better yet before) it hit the wood chips.
We learned the responsibility of cleaning up after something else. And that presentation matters when we are represented. The way our stalls and pens looked to others was how people judged our ability to care for our livestock.
Showing livestock prepared me for the messes of motherhood. Because, there’s nothing worse than cleaning up a big cow pie, right?
When our animals arrived at our barn, the training began. The first order of business was trust. It was up to us to show the animals we were there to care for them.
Once trust was delivered and accepted, a halter was introduced. This was always a hard lesson for the animal to learn…much like sleep training a baby. And it took a lot of patience for me to stay calm and gentle through the process.
I learned that the animals (much like babies) know the voices of their caretakers. A soothing and trusting voice can simply change the situation in an instant. I learned it was much easier for me and my animals if I stayed calm and collected. It just took time and routine.
Eventually, the animal finally accepted the halter. Then, came leading, setting up, bathing and grooming. With each new transition during training, patience shined through each and every time.
Presentation is one of the most important parts of showing livestock. The animal must be clean and well clipped. This skill is something the caretaker should do themselves.
Unfortunately, nowadays grooming is being sold out to “professional” show jocks and groomers. All it takes is money and someone can do this for you.
It seems like very few kids are learning how to groom their show animals.
Let me tell you something. The kids should learn to groom on their own. They are missing out on something important.
Learning to groom my show livestock taught me to be attentive to detail. It brought me closer to the sport and taught me to take ownership in my mistakes and success.
It does take time and lots of observation. I learned by watching those “professionals” along with using my own practiced techniques. By the end of my show career, I was grooming my own animals.
It may not have looked completely professional, but I made my livestock look good. And I did it myself – without anyone else’s help. And I learned to love it.
It’s amazing what happens when you spend a ton of time and energy caring for something or someone that depends on you so much. The love just flows in.
It never ends. No one can ever take from me all the hard work and time training and caring for my animals. The relationships and the bonds that bound me and my animals together was real. It’s what woke me up every single morning. I lived for the sport of raising and showing livestock.
I’m figuring out this feeling is much like motherhood. I love motherhood. Now, I get up for my little girls. I love my babies unconditionally.
7 Skills Prepared Me For Motherhood
Raising and showing livestock is much like motherhood. Tame livestock who are shown are much like big babies and children. They depend on their caretakers to help them meet their needs.
It takes much patience, gentleness and unconditional love to constantly put someone or something else’s needs before your own. Sleep, nutrition and time are all important needs mothers sacrifice for their own children.
Luckily, I learned to sacrifice these needs before my first daughter was born. Showing livestock prepared me. The barn and the animals showed me the ropes.
Motherhood is the best job in the world. But before I became a mother, my training began with the animals. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
~ Much Love ~
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