I’m taking the time to pause and count my blessing as I look back over 2018.  Sure, there have been bumps in the road and a few setbacks here and there, but I choose to focus on all the good things!


We launched the Silver Barn Cattle blog!


Obviously, you know this, because you are reading this post right now, but it’s something we’ve had on our minds for quite some time and we were excited to have everything fall into place this year.


My dad is cancer free!


A scary report was delivered to us at the end of 2017.  My dad, after battling headaches for about a year, trips to many different doctors, repeated CAT scans and MRI’s, was finally diagnosed with cancer.  They found a tumor in his frontal sinus cavity above his right eye.  Luckily it hadn’t grown into the brain yet, but it was attached to the lining of the brain.  This is an extremely rare and fast-moving cancer (called a SNEC) and we have no idea what caused it.  We are just extremely thankful that the doctors caught it when they did.  My dad had surgery at KU Med Center in Kansas City in January, 2018, to remove the tumor and started intensive treatments in February that consisted of doing chemo and radiation at the same time for about 8 weeks.  He rented an apartment in Kansas City so he could take treatments during the week and return home on the weekends.  I spent several of those weeks with him in Kansas City with first TJ and then Emery, rotating in and out of the apartment on different weeks.  One boy would stay with me while the other would stay at home with Shawn on the ranch.  I am so thankful for our online schooling through Kansas Connections Academy and their wonderful staff of teachers.  And I am forever grateful for the wonderful staff at KU Med Center.


Our family had an awesome time at the Maine Anjou Junior Nationals


If you ever have the opportunity to go to a Junior National event, no matter what the breed, JUST GO!!!  Do whatever it takes to get there!  This was our family’s second year attending (it was at Grand Island, NE this year) and we already have plans made for next summer to attend in Des Moines.  It is so much more than just showing cattle!  The activities the kids participate in and the new friends they meet will both have a life-long impact on them.  Some of my very best friends (and my kids’ best friends) are folks that we have met through showing cattle.  These are folks we can relate to and have so much in common with.  When you start attending events like this, you will truly find your “other family!”

T.J. placed third in his speech division at the Maine Anjou Junior Nationals


Yes, my kids did almost every event possible at Junior Nationals–quiz bowl, fitting contest, judging contest, showmanship, public speaking, and of course, exhibiting their cattle.  But the most meaningful award for my 11-year-old (10-year-old at the time)  was to place third out of 65 in the speech contest junior division.  What a great experience for him–not only to place so well, but to also put in the hard work necessary to research his topic, practice, and then get up in front of people!  Emery also competed and although he didn’t bring home an award, he was very proud of himself for competing at a national competition.  An amazing experience for any 8-year-old!



The boys competed in 14 livestock shows in the last 12 months


Hmm, now I know why I feel a little worn out here at the end of 2018!  But at the same time, we are super excited to get our 2019 show string out and start dragging cattle around again this year!  Where all did we go?  Well, we covered everything from national competitions like the American Royal and Junior Nationals, to state competitions like Kansas State fair and KJLS, to county events like the Elk County fair and local spring shows.  We started the year off at Hutchinson with the Kansas Classic and finished up again at Hutch in December with the Kansas Beef Expo.  Want to go with us in 2019?  You’re more than welcome to tag along!



TJ and Emery continue to practice and improve their livestock judging skills


Livestock judging is another activity that I would strongly encourage kids to get involved in if they are also showing animals.  This will help them get better and better at picking out their own livestock and they will take great pride in a grand drive call-back when it’s an animal they raised or picked out themselves.  The boys participated in several livestock judging contests and activities this year.  TJ really enjoyed going to the Livestock Sweepstakes at KSU again this year where he also got to do meats judging.  This year’s judging highlight was at the Kansas Beef Expo this month where both TJ and Emery did the placing only competition of livestock judging.  (No “reasons” presentation for the placings only competition.)   TJ was over the moon thrilled to get 1st in his age division for the second year in a row!  Emery was in the same age division and placed third.  The other member of their team did well, too, so the boys ended up with a first place team award!  I’ve never seen a group of kids so excited and proud of their accomplishments–as they should have been!


We had a fantastic day at our first ever “Competitive Edge Cattle Clinic”


We hosted this event here at the ranch and honestly, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to pull it off.  We just had a vision of what we knew would be helpful for beginning showman, then did our best to bring it to reality.  We only put about 6 weeks of planning into it and had a goal of getting about 10 families to come.  We were shocked at the interest and response that we received and were thrilled to host nearly 100 attendees!  We couldn’t have pulled it off without the fantastic help and deep knowledge provided to us by the Hurst family from Nevada, MO.  Brad, Sherry, and Justin of H & H Show Supply brought along their supply trailer and gave hands-on demonstrations.  The Hilton Family/Envy Farms was also a premium sponsor and provided a fantastic beef brisket lunch catered by Toot’s Drive-In!  We covered cattle clipping, cattle fitting, showmanship, daily hair care, products, and halter-breaking.  Plans are already in the works for the next clinic and we hope to set it up so that attendees can also bring their own cattle.


Our family was featured in the Maine Anjou breed magazine, The Voice


What a way to end the year!  I just got our 2019 January/February issue out of the mailbox today, December 31, and found a great article about our family, our love for the Maine Anjou breed, and our love of helping youth get more involved in the livestock industry! (The online copy of the magazine can be accessed HERE.)


We are committed to this great cattle industry, youth in agriculture, and an amazing way of life called “ranching.”  If we can ever help you with any of these endeavors, please reach out to us!  We wish you the best in 2019.  Happy New Year!


Click HERE to get a PDF copy of this post for future reference!

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