Training for Grandma’s half-marathon is reaching its peak over the next few weeks,  while training on the farm is just starting to ramp up for the summer show season.

What, you may ask, does training for show season entail?  Our four children all show beef and hogs at several fairs and shows throughout the summer.  Currently the kids are working on training their five show heifers.  The heifers are the female cattle prior to having their first calves.  The kids walk over to the farm every day after school and put each heifer in a ten foot by ten foot pen.  They slowly work at gaining the animals confidence by sitting on the fence, scratching the animals back with a show stick, brushing the animal, and finally putting a halter on.  It is a slow process of gaining the animal’s trust.

Yesterday Maddie’s race training and animal training intersected.  One of our heifers, Reba, got spooked and jumped out of her pen.  Now, you can’t run after a heifer to catch her. You have to think like an animal and predict which way she is going to move in order to get her back where she needs to be.  Maddie, along with Brandon and her siblings, put on many miles through the neighbors fields and pastures and then through our own planted corn field trying to move Reba back towards her pen on our farm.  Just when she seemed to be moving in the right direction… BAM… she would run the other way.  I really don’t work with the cattle, Brandon’s turned me into more of a pig person, so I watched the whole ordeal from our deck overlooking the farm and neighboring land.  The kids and Brandon made quite a team, and finally, two hours later, Reba was back home with her friends.

Maddie’s running training definitely helped keep her endurance high during the heifer marathon.

Once the heifers are trained, the kids will move on to training the steers.  When school lets out all of the animals will get bathed, blowdryed, brushed, and walked every day.  The  pigs also will get walked and bathed, but don’t need quite as much discipline, since they are not led by a halter.  It’s a full summer, but the kids wouldn’t have it any other way.