Attending a few more Texas rodeos has been on our to-do list ever since our first trip to the Austin Rodeo pre-COVID. This year we signed up to participate in one of the biggest rodeos in Texas. We had a show lamb entered into the San Antonio livestock show; just one of the many events during the 2 week extravaganza that is the San Antonio Rodeo. Some of the other events that you can see at a typical Texas rodeo include:
- Bull and bronco riding
- Horse dancing
- Other horse riding shows and competitions
- Music acts
- Carnival rides
- Livestock shows
For those of you un-familiar with showing livestock, kids around the county raise goats, lambs, pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys and take them to shows where they are judged on how the animal looks and how the handlers are able to walk them around the ring. All of this seemed bonkers to me a few years ago when my kid joined the Future Farmers of America (FAA) club. After about a full year of pleading with me, we bought our first show lamb and named him Andrew.
Andrew arrives at the farm
Most of the kids got their lamb at the start of the summer and were able to train and raise them at a very young age. Since I’m a big meanie and wasn’t fond of farm animals I made Jr. wait as long as possible before the lamb was delivered to the school farm. Near the end of the summer Andrew arrived and show training began. The show animals are pampered and given special feed, frequently groomed, and taken on walks. You also have to train them to sit still and stand in a certain pose for the judge. I being a city slicker at the time I thought this was all bat shit crazy, especially the posing part. It’s officially called “presenting” the lamb.
Andrew the show lamb hits the road.
After about 2 months of training and packing lbs. on Andrew, we were ready for our first prospecting show. It was about 30 miles away from the school farm at an impressive horse arena. I was shocked at the amount of people and gear that showed up. Many of the other participants had large trailers, RV’s, and elaborate tailgate parties. We had none of this. It was cold outside and we had to spend most of the time in the parking lot waiting our turn to show Andrew. Things went pretty well for us, Andrew didn’t’ get last place which was somewhat of an accomplishment for total greenhorns. We had a few other small show the next few months, all in preparation for TCYS
Travis County Youth Show
The big show for many of the kids in Austin is the Travis County show. The story I got was this show was created a while back to give the kids in Austin a chance to compete with other kids in Austin, as the country folk tended to beat the pants off our aspiring city farmers. The turnout was impressive and the event was a lot of fun. Our school put up a tent and respectable tailgate party. Some of the other participants brought RV’s and camped out for the weekend. Good times were had by all.
Andrew is scheduled to attend a Major
When Andrew first arrived at the farm I was informed that if he was sent to auction (aka the slaughter house), I would not be invited to my kids’ wedding and a picture of him would be put in my chair instead. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a joke or ideal threat, so I agreed. As luck would have it you are not allowed to skip school for a few days and attend this very cool event unless you are willing to give your animal up to the auction. The other kids were teasing my kid a little bit about not doing what is expected and sending Andrew to auction, so it was agreed Andrew was headed to San Antonio.
Andrew escapes the freezer!
Spoiler alert, Andrew now lives in my backyard and we never made it to San Antonio. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about show animals a few years ago. I confidently said a few times “Well if it’s legal, you can keep him in our backyard”. I was convinced this was not legal, but I was wrong. You are allowed to keep 2 livestock animals in the City of Austin as long as they are under 250 lbs. Lucky Me.
Andrew’s living the good life
There are several reasons I’m not the most popular neighbor on my block. I live in a semi- fancy neighborhood and we park motorcycles in the front yard, there is an old school Bronco without the top on it in the driveway, and 3 sets of drums that go boom. I was petrified that my neighbors were going to hate my show lamb and start complaining about it. While Andrews is quiet for sheep standards, he is still loud. The “Bah” has a deep thundering sound to it, and sheep like to “Bah” a lot.
The first week Andrew was home he escaped the backyard. He walked over to one of my neighbors who was hanging out late at night in his garage and gave them a surprise visit. Then he proceeded to make an appearance on a few other neighbor’s ring cams before one of them got it back in my backyard. It wasn’t too tough for them to figure out who owned the suburban sheep. I didn’t even know this happened for several days after Andrew’s escape.
Even more shocking than the legal status of farm animals at your house in Austin, was that the neighbors love Andrew. After he introduced himself and some of the younger kids saw him on the ring cam, they were all obsessed about meeting him. Now we take it out for walks and everybody wants to pet him. He is the talk of the town and soon to be an integral part of our marketing efforts. Thanks to Andrews I’ve had a chance to get to know my neighbors and our street is a much friendlier place. Well done Andrew.