Karen Hiltbrand

Meet a Farmer- Diary of Karen Hiltbrand


It’s been a very, very busy time at my house lately with all my chores, school, our show season coming up, and the holidays. Our house is just a bit chaotic.  My day usually runs just about like this; I get home from school and tie up my two show calves Ted and Lou Casey then I go in and do homework.  After I finally get that done I come back out and exercise and practice showmanship with them.  As I do this, both my sister, Katie or brother, Justin is also working with their steers also.  I continue to wash and then blow dry each of them to make them grow more hair and keep them looking as good as I can for the show ring. Then I feed everything with the help of my other family members and then turn animals’ out to pasture when the weather permits.  By this time it’s late and I have to hurry to eat and get to bed.    

This past weekend I attended NAILE, better known as the North American Livestock Exposition, where I helped a family exhibit three show calves —  two heifers and a bull.  If I were trying to describe what this show is like to an average person I’d probably compare this show to possibly the Super Bowl but obviously for livestock.  There the best of the best of many species are exhibited and compete to be judged on conformation and looks. In my personal case, the best confirmation in the Shorthorn (a breed of cattle) breed because that’s what we were showing.  Doing well at this show in Louisville, Ky. is in my opinion a great accomplishment.  Getting these animals ready to show is no small task, but in the long run it is a lot of fun and you’ll meet a lot of wonderful people. We had fun and placed well.  I also got to pick out a pair of new boots for a Christmas gift, which is always exciting too.   

After returning home it was time to vaccinate the feeders.  When I say vaccinate we give medication for things such as worms, parasites, scours, and other common diseases caught when a calf’s immune system is running low.  We do this calmly and in the safest possible manner.  We run one at a time around 50 head of heifers and steers through a runway and then into a chute.  My mom, as well as my brother and sister, and I worked calves together. My job was to give a 3-way vaccination shot in the neck, which I had to disinfect first and push calves back into their lot when they were done.  We sorted through all of the calves with few problems, so we were very happy.  After vaccinating our vet came over and surgically dehorned my show steer, Ted.  He first put him to sleep with an anesthesia, and then he numbed his horns so he couldn’t feel anything and removed the horns, and then stitched him back up.  The reason for dehorning is to ensure that the animal is safe whether he’s out at pasture so his horns can’t get hung up in a gate, or when he’s with other calves so that that they can’t hurt each other if they fight.  The procedure went very well and Ted’s happier than ever.    

Not only have I been busy at home but I’ve also been busy within my FFA chapter also.  Actually yesterday night through this morning I participated in a program called Cardboard City. Cardboard City is as program that raises money for the homeless or needy families in our school district.  What the activity does is lets students experience homelessness to the best of our ability by participating in scenarios where you are a homeless person and you’re trying to find food, a job or, a place to stay.  We actually to fully experience homelessness slept in cardboard boxes on our schoo’ls front lawn all night and gosh was it freezing.  After sleeping outside in the cold, I realized how thankful I really am and that I’m very, very fortunate.  All together the program raises more than $15,000 all to help the needy.   

This week is a big week for me as well as many others.  We all have Thanksgiving and for me I have my first show of the season where I’m going to go show my calves. We’ll see how it goes if nothing else I’ll be with great friends and I’ll have a full belly from all that turkey. Wish me luck. 

So Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless you as well as your family.

With love, Karen Hiltbrand





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