June 19 2018 11:26 AM

Winning is great, but winning isn’t everything.

My kids participated in their first dairy show of the season last week, the Central Minnesota Dairy Day Youth Show. This show marked the start of their seventh summer of showing cattle.

I continue to be both impressed by and proud of their attitudes toward showing.

Prior to the show, my son, Dan, was walking his heifers around the pretend show ring in our driveway. His yearling heifers are a little overconditioned right now, so I reminded him, “Remember to hold the skin up under her jaw to make her neck look leaner.”

Dan stopped and said, “But that’s a lie, Mom.”

Dan got back from Bible camp the day before the show and one of the main messages at camp this year was the importance of being honest.

I didn’t know how to reply to his comment, and before I could come up with a justification for the practice, Dan added, “If I get a red ribbon because she’s fat, then I get a red ribbon.”

How do you counter that?

All of my kids love showing just for the sake of showing.

This winter and spring, my daughter, Monika, could often be heard singing, “I’m not a Cloverbud. I’m not a Cloverbud,” while she brushed her cows and calves.

Monika seriously disliked the 4-H rule that prohibits Cloverbuds from leading their animals themselves. To celebrate her transition to full-fledged 4-H’er, Monika is showing her 2-year-old Jersey cow this summer.

At the show last week, Monika and her cow placed well enough to go back out for Overall Champion Jersey Cow.

For Monika, though, it wasn’t so much how she placed that mattered. What mattered to her was that if she placed high enough, she would get another chance to walk her cow in the ring.

Her goal at every show is to enter the ring and show her animals as many times as possible.

In a world where youth sports and activities become fixated on “winning is everything” at younger and younger ages, I am encouraged by my children’s attitudes.

I realize that Dan and Monika might well become more competitive in the future, but, for now, I’m enjoying their perspectives on showing. And I appreciate them reminding me that winning isn’t the ultimate goal . . . having fun and trying our hardest are much more important.

“If I win, great! If I don’t, oh well. I’ll try again next year.”

Sadie Frericks

The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.