Follow the Leader

calfI learned how to be a follower when I was about seven years old.  My older siblings were in 4-H and showed calves at the county fair every summer.  Part of their responsibilities in getting ready for show-time was to teach those calves how to be led around a ring in front of a judge.  The animals had to be taught the commands for walking forward, walking backward, stopping, and standing still.

Early in the summer, my sister would put the halter on her Shorthorn calf and they would go for long walks down the gravel country road.  My job was to walk behind the critter with a stick in my hand and whack her rear end if she stopped walking. (Clarification: I’m referring to the rear end of the calf, not my sister.)  Even though I had to watch my step, I remember thinking that it was kind of fun.  I got to spend an afternoon with my big sister and smack a cow every so often.  We would sing our hearts out walking down that back road.

“If you wanna be a Badger, then come along with me…”


“by the bright shining light, by the light of the moon…”


By the end of the summer, my services were no longer needed.  The bovine was adept at showing off her stuff.  My sister was pretty good, too.  One year her calf was awarded Reserved Grand Champion at the State Fair.

All this to say: while I’m learning the art of becoming a follower, I may need someone pulling me along, showing me which road to take and how to walk in it.  But I also may need someone coming behind me, making sure I don’t lag — prodding me with a loving whack.

7 thoughts on “Follow the Leader

  1. This is your sister speaking…. You were especially important on the walk AWAY from the barn. That calf seemed to know when we were leaving and when we were going home. As soon as we turned around, no prodding was needed. The pace picked up, and sometimes I had to pull back on the halter to slow him down. Do you suppose that when we “turn the corner” in our life journey to head “home”, that we will want to pick up the pace and actually run the last leg of the race…?

  2. I love that visual of running toward home. Reminds me of the verse in Hebrews 12:1 “Run the race with perseverance…” They are cheering us on. Wait — was your calf a “he”?

  3. Dear Sister……none of our calves were “she’s”. But they weren’t exactly he’s either. They were STEERS, which means they started out as he’s, but were “adjusted” along the way to become sort of “neutral”. Their main purpose in life (besides looking pretty in the show ring) was to provide meat (in addition to teaching me some lessons of responsibility and working and living)! The final step of each season of showing cattle was the tearful farewell in the barn after the calves had been purchased at the auction……

  4. Oh my goodness, I love this post and the comments from Mom and Aunt Dinah! 🙂 I am smiling at the picture my mind is creating of the two of you walking along with a calf. And nice to think about other members of our family singing that Badger song as youngsters, long before they were to become students… But I like the last paragraph best…I’m trying to find the “right” road and maybe I need a good *whack* to get me going…

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