Our Rural Roots

Our Steer Gets a New Job

Blogger Tiffany Dowell Lashmet shares how retiring a show steer saddened her children more than she expected. (Photo by Dylan Voyles)

We've recently survived a first at our house: a show steer retirement. Our miniature Hereford steer, Ben, did his job well, and it was time for him to exit the show world. However, it soon became clear that this was more of a traumatic event for our young children than I might have guessed.

First, I got a call from the school. "Hello, Mrs. Lashmet? Your child is upset. We asked why, and she said something about someone named Ben retiring. Is that her grandfather maybe?"

Then, it happened again at church. During the children's sermon, the leader asked the kids to name something that made them sad. Several children gave normal answers like "When my dog died" or "If my friend won't play with me." Then my child said, "When a show steer retires." As the congregation turned to look at me, I momentarily felt like an unfit mother for putting this child through that kind of pain.

What my children (and others) did not initially understand, however, is that Ben was not having the standard steer retirement. Instead, Ben was headed for the good life in the Colorado mountains.

Our family donated Ben to the Dream Catcher Therapy Center, a wonderful nonprofit organization that rescues animals and uses them as therapy aids for a host of people with physical and mental health challenges. This includes children with special needs, senior citizens and military veterans.

There were tears when it was time for Ben to be loaded in the trailer. But, there was also a discussion about how Ben had served his purpose in the show ring and now would serve another purpose helping people at Dream Catcher. With that in mind, Ben got a big pan of extra grain and a final pat on the head, and he headed north to live his next best life.


Tiffany Dowell Lashmet balances family, farming and a career in ag law from the Texas Panhandle. Follow her blog at https://alwaysafarmkid.com/…, on Instagram alwaysafarmkid and Twitter @TiffDowell