Most of my close friends know I was a fanatic about cows. I raised them, showed them, and even enjoyed drawing them on occasion in my sketchbook. In fact, my reputation had grown so large, I was coined the nickname Cow Goddess and became a feature in a friends comic once.
One of the most memorable steers I worked with was the Chapter Steer, Beethoven. Yes, that’s me and the big guy in the picture. Here he was only 800-900 pounds, but by the time fair season, he weighed in at 1,350 pounds. We were sweating bullets, since he was one of the largest steers in the competition and it may cost us ribbons. There were also concerns I wouldn’t be able to handle my first Steer Show ever with such a HUGE beast like that.
Luckily, my Animal Science Teachers and FFA Advisers were more than happy to let everyone know how much work I had put into the steer. Even parents had to chime in and point out there wasn’t a day they didn’t run into me or seen evidence I had just left.
Part of the upkeep involves us unhooking them from their assigned area, walking down narrow aisle ways and even through places where fair goers are viewing our animals. Being such a HUGE and WIDE steer, I realized with the crowds pouring in that there was no room to turn Beethoven around.
My face must have caught Mr. Stotler’s attention, “Valerie.”
“Uh, I guess I’ll have to wait this out…” We both watched the steady stream of people pouring through. “Or back him up.”
He chuckled, “You can’t get him to walk backwards that whole way.”
A grin crossed my face. “I bet I can.”
He gave me a skeptical face. Beethoven lifted his head out of the water bucket and nudged me, letting me know he was ready to go back and lay on his soft bed of hay.
“Beep… Beep… Beep” I was chanting this as if a large loader was backing up or one of those forklift at the Home Depot. “Beep… Beep… Beep…”
Beethoven ears flipped and flopped a moment, one on me and one facing backwards and with out further guidance began to walk backwards. My teacher tilted his head, his forehead wrinkling. We walked through the crowd, up the aisle way made the turn… still beeping and the cow still walking backwards. I made is pass his nook and then pulled him forward into it. No problems, a big grin on my face. I walked back, patting my hands off as a silent good job me praise.
“I don’t even want to know…” He mumbled, rubbing his forehead.
I shrugged, chuckling, “I thought it might come in handy!”
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