"Prepare to bring your
calves in," the man on the public address system boomed. Quickly, everyone
started putting the finishing touches on his show calf, before taking them
into the arena. This was the climax of the livestock show. Having already
judged the swine and sheep, the judges were almost ready for the calves.
The tension began to mount as show-time drew closer.
Bill hurriedly finished combing his calf's tail. It had some hay in it, and was giving some trouble. The calf, Buddy, as Bill called it, was a stocky-built Hereford, which Bill had purchased from a neighbor.
It had taken a long time to find this calf. Bill and daddy had gone to several ranches, trying to find a suitable calf to feed out for the show in the spring. Hoping that Bud, a cousin of daddy's, might have a good calf, they went down his ranch one Saturday morning, as the cattle were being rounded up to be shipped north to the feeder lots in Nebraska.
Bud seemed anxious to find a good calf for Bill. He picked one out, and Bill thought that this was the calf he was looking for. It was well built, and cam from good stock.
As he arrived home with the calf, Bill began to make elaborate plans for getting the calf ready for the show. He would have to get the best feed he could find, and begin, as soon as possible, to train him. The calf was somewhat nervous, and it would require an extra amount of time and patience to get him over this.
"Son, you had better hurry up. The milk-fed calves are beginning to come out of the arena." Both Bill and daddy finished brushing Buddy's back. He was all most ready to go. Bill carefully put on his new hat and leather gloves, then picked up the show-stick. Grabbing the show-halter, he placed it over Buddy's head. "Old boy, you had better do your best," he spoke to the calf, "this is what we have been waiting for." Buddy moved from the stall, and the boy and the calf headed for the arena. As they got there, a calf broke loose from its leader, and burst down the hallway for the arena. Every one hurriedly moved his calf out of the way, in an attempt to keep his calf from getting nervous. But the lunge for freedom was in vain, for the calf was soon brought under control.
As the calves arrived into the arena, each one was lined up facing the judge. Buddy was at one end of the line, and the judge would get to him last. This would give a little extra time to get him just right for the judge to inspect. Carefully, Bill used the show-stick to get Buddy's feet placed correctly. The he rubbed Buddy's stomach with it to make the calf's back level.
As these careful steps were being taken, Bill's mind raced back over those months of patient training of Buddy. He had been hard to work with at first. But after Bill established a friendship with Buddy, it was hard to keep the calf out of his way whenever he was in the pen. Those day had been a lot of fun, but now, this show was serious business. This meant whether Bill would make a profit or suffer a loss on several months of hard work, and the money he had invested in Buddy -- besides that was money to be saved up for college!
The crucial time arrived when the judge came to Buddy. Hold his head high, Bill thought. Keep the calf still and calm when the judge starts poking around on Buddy. Make a good impression on the judge. "Whoa there, Buddy. Keep still, boy." A the judge smiled at me. Maybe he liked Buddy?
"Will the young man on the end move his calf forward please?" Feelings of elation swept over Bill, as he proudly moved Buddy forward. The judge had chosen four calves from the group. From this group, the champion of Bill's division would come.
The air grew tense as the judge proceeded to go over the four calves again. Buddy sensed the tenseness, but the months of training kept him doing exactly as Bill wanted him to.
After what seemed like an eternity, the judge stepped away from the calves to announce the winners. He began with the last place first. One by one, the names were called out, and the boys filed by to pick up their ribbons.
The atmosphere became very tense as the judge reached the second place. The audience became quiet, when the judge prepared to call out the second place winner. Bill's heart pounded like a Big Ben clock, as he awaited the judge's decision. The one that was left would be the winner!
"Will Robert Johnson come forward with his calf?" The audience began the applause, and Bill, unbelievingly, realized that Buddy had won. Instinctively, Bill looked into the stands to see his folks. A few tears dropped from his mother's eyes as mom and dad proudly clapped for their son. He was the winner! He was proud of Buddy!
The thought of tomorrow raced across his mind, when he would have to part with Buddy in the auction ring. But now he could not think of that for Buddy was the winner!