Growing up on a farm, one of the lessons I've learned is that you can't lose livestock if you don't have livestock, but the lessons you gain from having them are invaluable. That still didn't stop me from thinking about quitting showing goats.
Yes, the girl who begged for goats as a 5-year-old seriously considered calling it quits at one point.
A bit of backstory: I started my herd by buying five goats using the money from a change jar from my mom when I was 5 years old after begging her to let me have goats. I later learned that my mom didn't expect me to get that many goats or that the herd would grow to around 40 goats at one point.
As a 4-H'er, I showed my goats at the county fair, state fair and even international shows. I learned that goats are like potato chips and you can't have just one. I learned that each goat has its own unique personality.
So, what made the girl who loved showing goats want to quit?
I had bought a goat to show, only to come home and have it die a few days later. The breeder and I both knew that the goat was sick when I bought it, so the breeder was kind enough to replace it for me free of charge.
The replacement goat was better than the original, so I couldn't complain. Until it died less than 48 hours later, leaving me devastated.
What did I do wrong? TWO goats died.
I knew that death was an inevitable part of life and owning livestock, but I couldn't help but wonder what I did wrong. Maybe there was something I could have done to save them. Maybe, even though both died of natural causes, it was my fault.
It was too late to get another goat to show due to rules and regulations and none of the other goats I had were as good as the ones that died. So, why not just give up? Even if it was just giving up for that show season since I didn't have very good goats.
I'm not a quitter, but I was more than ready to call it quits. Why not quit before the rest of my goats ended up dying? Because I looked around and saw who would be watching.
My friends, showmen I had mentored, potential employers and scholarship donors — a lot of people were watching. What would they think if I quit?
No, you shouldn't worry too much about what other people will think of you — but, it is important to see who's watching you. Sometimes, the person watching you is your reflection in the mirror. What will you think later if you quit now?
My goats weren't the quality that I wanted them to be, but I love showing goats and couldn't let go of that — even if it was only for one show season.
There was no way that I was going to let losing good show goats stop me from being in the show ring. I'm glad I went out there because I gained memories that are invaluable. I learned that the quality of goat makes no difference in the quality of memories.
Even though I have since sold my entire goat herd, I have not called it quits with goats.
I sold most of my herd to another 4-H family and my mentor and can visit the goats at any time. I can still go to goat shows — some of which I can show other's goats. And most importantly, I can get back into the goat breeding business any time I want to.
As much as I wanted to quit showing goats, I'm glad that I took the time to see who was watching and didn't quit.