For the past decade, perhaps a little longer, our summers have been dominated with Brown Swiss and cattle shows. When I graduated from college and got married, never did I think that this kind of thing would be in my future. Not one bit. And when the opportunity presented itself, we took it and ran with it. Over those years, we’ve made some great friends, met a ton of new people we’d never have met, gotten so dirty with dust and snot and hair and poop and hay and all sorts of other fun things.

#yuck

Ok, it’s not that bad, but it’s summer and you are leading an 800 pound animal who kind of likes you, so they lean on you while you are waiting to go into the show ring. Hot and stinky! However, this year, when we asked our daughter if she was showing, she said no. She said her friends had all pretty much aged out (she could show in youth shows until she’s 21) and that we’d be the ones raising the animal and handing her the lead. She didn’t like seeing other kids have that happen and didn’t want to be that kid/young adult, which was very mature for her.

But this meant we were done.

#whoohoo

We took our trip to Boston and had a fabulous time. Side note: we stopped at a place and clerk asked us where we were from and how we got out there. We said we drove and camped, to which she said, “You must really like each others!” She’s not wrong. ❤️

We saw family on a few occasions and have tried our best to keep school out of our minds. Both of us have had to deal with different school things, but for the most part, it’s been kept out of our daily lives. So summer has been good for us to recharge and reboot after the cluster of last year.

This week was our county fair, so we make the trek to head up and see things. As we walked on the grounds, my wife looks over at me and says, “This is comfortable.” When pressed as to what she meant, it was just a feeling (one I had too) of slipping into something that we’ve done for 10+ years. The people, the animals, the “Hey Mr. J” from students, all of it felt comfortable, but without responsibility! We had no animals up there. No chickens, no heifers, no cows, nothing. When we went home, we went home!

Now, as I say all these things, here’s the rub: We aren’t out of the game yet. We talked to our “show family” and made the offer to help them with the country fair and the state fair, to which they said, “That would be great,” with a little too much vigor! So, we got sucked back in.

#uhoh

Today, we helped with their heifers at the open show. Now, they have four animals and there were five of us there, a little bit if overkill no doubt. That being said, my wife and I each had the opportunity to lead one during the final selection of Brown Swiss breed champion, which was pretty cool. My wife had white pants (a typical dress code for those who show dairy) and got a little bit of heckling, but we both had a ball. And that idea of comfortable felt even more so because of the people around us. We got the chance to talk with those who understood showing, the animals, the time it takes to prepare them and take care of them. Those on the outside looking in don’t always understand how our animals were 700 pound puppies, following us around for good scratching on their necks! 🙂

We’ll head down to the state fair as well. The state fair brings out some different people, but yet, our string of animals will be our friends and another family that we know who will be next to us. A chance to meet new people, make new memories, and feel like we belong to something.

If Covid taught us anything, friendships and belonging are two bigs ones. I’ll write about “fitting in” and “belonging” at another time, but as we continue with this foolishness, we belong to something.

And while dirty and sweaty and sometimes gross, that feeling is never a bad one to have! 🙂