Topic: What's the best Christmas gift you ever received? What made it so special? 

I guess you could call it an early Christmas present.  When I was nine, my Godmother and her brother gave me an Ayrshire calf.  I bottle fed it and took care of it and worked with it and trained it.  I watched it closely.  I vaccinated it.  I treated it for scours.  I did everything I was supposed to do and did it when I was supposed to do it.  Finally, I got to show it at the local show and the spring county show.  About two weeks after the spring show, she bloated overnight and died.  

I know that may sound like a horrible story about a Christmas present, but it was very special.  Those two thought enough of me to give me a life to take care of and learn from.  Receiving that Ayrshire calf changed my life from that day forward.  I learned responsibility.  I learned about bovine health.  I learned about death and loss.  I learned that even when you do everything right, sometimes God has other plans.  I learned about not giving up.  

I could have very easily thrown in the towel when I lost that heifer, but instead, I told my  parents that I wanted to try again.  I was willing to wait until we saved up enough money to buy a new calf...but a few weeks later, my Godmother and her brother gave me a replacement calf, an ET half sister to the one I lost.  I’ve been raising dairy heifers and showing them ever since.  

I am very thankful to God for all that He has given me.  He has continually blessed me in my efforts.  He has multiplied what I have.  None of this would be possible without Him.     

Through God’s blessings, I’ve got three breeds now.  I’ve worked and saved my money and bought, and I’ve bred them until I’m now a few days away from my oldest Brown Swiss calving the twelfth animal in my herd/string since that first gift.  Out of those, I have eight that I’ve kept for showing and breeding.  

This new little Brown Swiss calf will be the ninth keeper if it’s a heifer.  Now THAT would be a great (early) Christmas present for THIS year!  

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