Why I judged livestock.

One afternoon, early in the fall term of my sophomore year of college, I walked into Clint's office to ask him if I could reschedule a midterm he had planned since I was going to be in Louisville working at the National FFA Convention.

I remember him telling me I could take the midterm earlier....and what was I doing on Monday and Wednesday afternoons?

I told him I wasn't doing anything - why?

He said he thought I should join the livestock judging team.

And I distinctly remember thinking in my head, "This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I mean - I've never judged a class of livestock in my life. Like...ever. Sure, I've judged dairy cattle and had some success, but that's the complete opposite of judging livestock."

And then I told him that...in about as many words.

He said he could teach me to evaluate the livestock....because what he needed was someone who could {talk}.

Boy did he ever get what he asked for! ;)

And that's how I became a member of the 2004 OSU Livestock Judging Team.

And friends, I have never experienced as much failure in life as I did in that year.

I mean - I was bad. Really bad. Especially in the beginning.

I'm pretty sure I dropped 192 points at the Arizona National...and that was just on placings.

We'd turn in cards during a workout, and I knew from Clint's face when he read them that he was disappointed.

And the flood would start....Oh the crying!

And I NEVER cried before I started judging...in fact, my state officer team used to always joke that I lacked tear ducts, because I never cried...ever!

Yup - I was that bad.

Let's just say there's a reason I've never been asked to judge a livestock show.

But I worked at it....and grew.

I never won a contest....but I learned A LOT that year.

And not just how to evaluate livestock - because judging livestock teaches a person more than that.

It teaches you to be analytical.
How to be descriptive.
To be competitive and keen.
When and how to place emphasis on particular items.
How to budget time and balance commitments.
How to commit to something.

And it taught me how to comfortably seat 13 people in a 12 passenger van using a lawn chair as the 13th seat....but that's a story for another day.

For me - livestock judging taught me to fail, and keep trying. It was a good lesson for me to learn at that point in my life. Because I think if I hadn't have been so committed...I would have quit. And it's good for a person to not be {perfect} at something, but still enjoy it.

So when Nick Nelson, the judging coach at Blue Mountain Community College here in Pendleton, asked if he could bring the team out to the ranch to workout, we were excited to help them sort through some heifers.

For some, they're still getting their 'judging legs' underneath them....and I could totally relate.

But I believe that what they're doing is valuable....life changing....and important.

They're headed to the National Western in Denver next month, and we wish the team continued growth....because success is reason enough.


  1. This post brought to mind an interesting memory or two or a dozen. I will never forget the hung over wimpers of "Cherry Coke" of a certain teammate on the way to Fresno, CA.

  2. Oh Beau, that is one of my favorite memories too! What great times we all had!


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