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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Secrets Learned From My 4H Calf

My 4H calf had a stubborn streak that I was determined to break.

If you have been in a 4H beef club, you understand that we had our work cut out for us. Not the least of these was training our calves to lead, stand, and wink at the judges. (Smile!) -And that was only the half of it. We also had to learn how to feed said calves and groom them, so they were ready for their 4H Calf Pageant of the Year.

I should clarify that if we did a masterful job preparing our calves, then we could have a good chance to win the 4H trophy for "Best All Around Calf". There were ribbons all the way from 4th to 1st place.

Now, if your calf was lined up in the show ring where he was 'supposed' to be, and refrained from kicking the judges, that was considered a huge plus! Glad I was never a judge. (Just sayin.)

In my last year of 4H, I had my single 4H calf and by then I qualified to have a 'pen of five' as well. That meant that I had 7 calves I had to feed, train, groom, and teach proper ring etiquette to. (One calf was a spare, just in case a calf got sick.)

Well I had noticed on our annual spring calf tour of all the calves in our club that my 'pen of five' was the skinniest of the lot! Time for drastic measures!

I decided that if I was not going to have the best looking 'pen of five', then I was going to have the best trained pen of five! This meant that I had to train them all to lead nicely and have good manners, by standing where and how I placed them.

All was going very well, except for Claude.

Oh! Didn't I tell you their names?

There was Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, and Claude. I know, really original!

Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Moe were well behaved and great on a lead rope. -But then came Claude...a much different story.

When my own brawn failed to budge him, I hitched him up to the tractor and drove in 'bull low' with Claude tied on the back, and he fought that tractor with all four feet planted firmly on the ground. The tractor just pulled Claude like a statue as he skidded through the barnyard dirt leaving 4 skid marks in the gravel. He snorted and fought that lead rope for all he was worth.

Well, that didn't work, so I thought I would resort to gentler techniques once again and use my own brawn.

Ha! Claude knew better.

Talk about a battle of wills. Claude just planted all 4's in the ground and no progress was made, so I resorted to the most drastic measures of all. I let up on the rope attached to his halter and called him every name that wasn't his. I let my temper get away on me and I gave him a Karate chop right on the forehead. You know, how those black belt guys karate chop the piles of bricks and the bricks all break in half. Well, that is what in envisioned would happen to Claude.

His head would just split in half...NOT!

I heard this loud "splitting" sound, like when you drop a watermelon on the ground. But when I looked at Claude, he was still in one piece. Bummer! Then I realized that my left hand could not grip the rope. When I checked it out, it was swollen twice its normal size.

Big shock! I broke my hand! But how was I going to explain this to my Dad?

I had to concoct a story about how Claude shook his head so hard trying to fight against me pulling on his rope that he whipped my hand into the hay trough.  

Yup! That's what I went with.

When we got to Milk River and saw the doctor, he took an X-Ray and when he returned with the pictures of my hand, he said that my break looked like I had been in a fight. (Smart Doctor!)

I sheepishly stuck to my story. It was 20 years before I finally got up the nerve to tell Dad what really happened.

The good thing about my broken hand was that I could "lord it over" on my siblings, clunking them on the head if they refused to comply with my orders. The bad thing was that I had an immobile hand for 6 weeks, and who was going to work with my calves? It was getting woefully close to the big show!

All worked out in the end. I received the prize for the gentlest 'pen of five' in the competition.
Flash forward.

Lessons learned the hard way are always remembered.

Since then I have realized that no matter what the outcome, always have integrity, be true to your word and work like h-e-double-tooth-pics. People have respect for you even if you fail, because you did not give up.

Many times in my business I have felt like giving up and quitting, but this story always lingers in my mind with the hard lessons learned from my 4H calf. Claude isn't with me now, but I will always remember the lessons he taught me.

This is the time of year to push into gear and take those life lessons, apply them to 2016 and forge ahead. Success is on its way for us all in 2016!

Got a LinkedIn question? Feel free to email me and I will answer it in my next blog.

Fired at Fifty: Stop Looking For Work and Discover What You Were Meant to Do.

Christine Till

The Marketing Mentress
Twitter: @mktgmentress

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