The Dickens Guide to Preparing for Show Day

Hi everyone, I hope you’re having a lovely day wherever you may be. My latest magazine article came out recently, and I’m going to share it with you today. This article isn’t one of my usual stories from my seedy past. Instead, I decided to take another shot at being somewhat educational. I, of course, failed miserably at this, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

The Dickens Guide to Preparing for Show Day

Ah February, the slimmest and sexiest month of the year. For most folks this month means Valentine’s Day flowers, chocolates, and romance. But for junior cattlemen in Mississippi February holds a much more important event, The Dixie National Livestock Show. Every year hundreds of junior cattlemen descend upon Jackson looking to distinguish themselves in the show ring. However, before they can even make it to that ring, they must first be prepared, and once again I have taken it upon myself to educate our youthful exhibitors. So come children, drink from the fountain of knowledge, and let Uncle Chase teach you how to prepare for show day.

Step One: Getting an Early Start

The morning of the show can be a hectic time. With hundreds of calves in the barn and a limited amount of wash rack space, it’s nice to get a head start by beginning your day bright and early. Unfortunately, my father’s definition of “bright and early” was what most people would describe as “dark and late,” better known as the middle of the night. I believe he reveled in the sight of sleep deprived children. However, I can honestly say that I was never once late for a show, even if I did have to rise at an hour when the only rational people awake were still drinking in bars.

Step Two: Washing the Calves

Once you’ve cleared your bleary eyes and properly cursed your father’s name, it’s time to wash the calves. Washing is pretty straightforward. There are a myriad of different soaps, brushes, and combs you can use, but I won’t get into that any of that right now because it’s boring and I simply cannot imagine a world where I write about soap. Unless of course you’re reading this and happen to own a magazine about soap, in which case, hit me up. I’m very hungry. Anyway, just make sure your calf is thoroughly clean and free of any dirt and manure.

However, you can use this opportunity to exact a little revenge on your early rising father with a well-placed squirt of the water hose. When he gets mad blame your calf for fidgeting. Calves are cool and won’t snitch on you. If he starts yelling about you getting him wet in the middle of February, try pointing out the fact that he’d probably dry a lot faster if the sun was actually out.

Step Three: Cleaning the Beds

Now that the calves are washed and tied up, it’s time to grab the pooper-scooper and clean the bed. Once again this is another pretty straightforward step. It doesn’t exactly take a PhD to scoop poo, and if you really need me to explain the intricacies of the process you might want to reconsider handling large animals as a hobby, or any sharp objects for that matter.

However, if you have a unobservant sibling with you and want to save yourself a little time, you can attempt a little covert poo relocation. When he suspiciously points out that his calf appears to have defecated a midsize sedan, tell him that it’s not a contest and that he shouldn’t brag about his calf’s pooing prowess.

Step Four, Part I: Taunt the Long Haired Cattle Exhibitors

Those of you showing short haired cattle breeds may get a little break in the preparations at this point. If you happen to be bored I suggest using this extra time to point and laugh at your long haired exhibitor friends because while you’re basically finished they still have to give their calf a perm, frost its tips, or whatever it is those guys do all day. I wouldn’t know. I showed Brahmans, and even with the extra mass in the humpular area they were a breeze to clean.

Exert from The Dickens Family Dictionary

Humpular Area – a term referring to the humped region of a Brahman’s back and is totally a word no matter what spellcheck says.

Remember that the joking is all in good fun. The trick is to be just mocking enough to illicit a few sneers and groans but no so much that you get stabbed in the face with a fitting comb.

Step Four, Part II: Retaliate Against Short Haired Cattle Exhibitors

Don’t think I forgot about you long haired cattle folks. You guys may not have as much free time, but those fabulously fluffy calves don’t happen by accident. And sure, the mocking from your short haired friends may ruffle your hackles in a way that no amount of brushing can comb flat, but don’t get mad. Get even!

You simply have to wait until your friend is leading their short haired calf on the way to the show ring and then fire up that industrial sized blow dryer of yours. Being unaccustomed to any type of loud drying apparatuses, the calf can only assume that it’s just encountered some type of terrifying snakelike creature that wields all the mighty power of the wind. As your friend’s calf inevitably drags them away, feel free to shout something biting like, “Good luck! I sure hope I didn’t… blow… your chances at the show!”

Laughing manically afterwards is option but highly suggested. However, once their panicked screams for help fade into the distance, you probably need to get back to being your calf’s makeup artist, or a Cowsmetician if you may.

(Author’s Note: Two puns in one entry? I’m going to have to rename my column, Pun Like the Dickens. Boom! Bonus pun!)

Step Five: You Got This

With all the other preparations complete it’s just a matter of adjusting your hat, listening to the obligatory talk from your (still damp) father about how real men never let go of the rope, and then leading your calf towards the arena. Just remember, you got this. Sure you’re only an eighty pound kid in an oversized cowboy hat leading a half ton of beef by a three foot leather strap, but you totally got this.

The End

I hope you enjoyed the article today. If you’re new to my blog feel free to peruse through some of my older work in the archive section. If you’d like to get in touch with me for any reason you can shoot me an email or contact me on my Facebook page. Both links are in the top menu. Go ahead and like the page while you’re there. And hey, if you want to do me a huge favor you can share this article with all your Facebook friends or social media thingy of your choice, I would greatly appreciate. We writers subsist solely on caffeine and attention, and I’ve already had coffee today. Now, I just need you to share.



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