Those who say money can’t buy happiness have obviously never bought a show heifer.

Before school starts and the new sophomores and freshmen bloggers keep this going, I want to squeeze just one last post in.

The end of summer and recent completion of the local county fair has had me reminiscing about my show days.  This was my first county fair where I couldn’t show, and believe me it was a very different view to be an observer instead of a participant. Seeing my younger brother and many other 4-Hers have such success, many at a very young age, reminded me of all the great memories I have from my years in 4-H and showing livestock. Most of us bloggers come from a background of some level of showing experience, and I think many will agree, while we have an infinite amount of memorable experiences, certain memories stick with us just a little bit harder.

My brother and I with a few of our awards from my last county fair. (Guess who got all the height genetics in the family?)

For me, one of these memories happened my junior year of high school and revolves around my show heifer, Misty. I can still remember the very first day I saw that girl. She was standing out in pasture at JK Cattle Co. just up the hill from her mother, and I knew I had to have her. Never mind the fact my goal for the day was to find a purebred Shorthorn heifer that was in my (fairly meager) price range. Nope, the minute I saw that ½ Shorthorn, ½ Red Angus girl I knew I’d be doubling my budget for the day. (Side note: my mom will vouch for the all this. As soon as she saw the look on my face from seeing that heifer not only did she already guess what I just told you, but she felt it necessary to mortify me by saying, “The reason you don’t have a boyfriend is because you will never look at a boy the way you just looked at that heifer.” Thanks, Mom.)

What's family for if not to embarrass you, right?

Fast forward about 4 months. Misty had already been to her first show, and I was already dreaming of future backdrop pictures with her. It was a cold January evening and we’d recently had an ice storm. I can still remember the look on Dad’s face when he came through the door. I was about to head outside to feed when he stopped me and told me when he was out at the barn a few minutes earlier he heard a massive *CRACK* outside, and when he went to check it out my beloved show heifer was only standing on 3 legs. For those of you who have never walked out to the barn and saw your favorite 7 month old show heifer standing there with a broken leg, let me tell you it is quite possibly one of the worst things you will ever see. At that moment, all of my hopes and dreams with that heifer felt like they’d been flushed down a massive imaginary toilet. Take it from someone who rarely sheds a tear, I bawled my eyes out that night.

I’ll admit the reasonable thing to do would probably have been to put Misty out of her misery that night, but I was not ready to give up on her. Anyone who’s had a show heifer knows the kind of bond you quickly create, and that’s not something you give up on after one night. The only clinic in Kansas with the equipment to X-ray cattle is the Vet Med Teaching Hospital at K-State. As soon as possible, Dad and I loaded Misty into the trailer and made the drive to Manhattan. Second worst sight of my life: the developed X-rays of Misty’s leg. Misty had broken her left front leg, and she was not a frail-legged beast (translation for any non-aggies: her front leg bone is thicker than the average human femur). She had not just broken her leg, but had shattered it into fragments no thicker than a toothpick. The only option was to splint it and see how she took to it:  If she accepted the splint she still had a chance; if she didn’t, there was nothing more we could do for her.

Talk about a few sleepless nights! Luckily, Misty immediately took to this foreign chunk of rebar and duct tape on her leg! Before I knew it she was back home to get to healing, but only the trips back to Manhattan would tell if it was working.

Let me tell you something – miracles DO happen. Not only did Misty never go off feed for a single day – including the day she broke her leg – but she healed almost TWICE as fast as was expected! She even amazed the most experience veterinarians at K-State by how quickly she healed and how great of a patient she was. Not only did she stand up and lay down perfectly on schedule, but she learned how to use her splint somewhat like a crutch, allowing her to maintain some muscle tone.

I was told that if she survived Misty would likely never be a show heifer again. However with her amazing recovery, Misty not only attended a spring show that May, but went on to Shorthorn Junior Nationals, the county fair, the Kansas State Fair, the Kansas Junior Livestock Show, and the Kansas Beef Expo. Of course, with how much energy she putting into healing her injury she never grew into the show heifer she had the potential to be. We never had the backdrop photos I once dreamed of with her, but I was perfectly content with just being back in the ring with my girl. Nobody could even tell she had ever broken a leg.

Misty about to be prepped for her last show. Look at those big ol' ears!

Even so, this is not what I consider the most amazing accomplishment of overcoming her injury. The hope with any show heifer is that they can become a cow. Misty has had two steer calves so far, and is a productive cow who I expect to be around for a long time. My younger brother showed her first calf at county fair this summer. Granted he didn’t turn into anything special, but I still have hopes for her second baby. I can’t wait to see what she drops this January!

Misty with her two sons. (Please excuse the poor quality camera and the lack of effort in setting them up for a proper photo.)

After all we’ve been through and how far she has come, it is still an amazing site to see her run off over a hill when she goes out to pasture.

Would you ever guess that front leg right there was once shattered?

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