The way the two cousins squint against the sun when they smile at the Kingfisher County Spring Livestock Show on Feb. 23 makes it easy to forget that Aubree (grade 8) and Case Geisler (grade 6) have spent almost 12 months mask mandated and indoors.
Jenny Geisler, Aubree’s mom, is not quick to forget. When asked about the last year with COVID-19 her voice wavered, and Jenny found herself struggling to put it into words.
“I would say…” Jenny stopped to compose herself. “So many of them haven’t got to do so many things. It has just been a rough year. Sorry, I don’t know why that hit me so hard.”
Last year, the lives of many young Oklahomans changed drastically as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation. Spring breaks were extended, classes went online and events like the Oklahoma Youth Expo were being canceled daily, something that Jenny found disappointing for her family.
“You know, these kids spend a lot of time on their projects. Every day is probably an hour cleaning stalls. Then on weekends, they are washing,” Jenny said. “Just washing and drying take two hours a calf and she has two calves. That is four hours just washing calves, that’s not including feeding.”
Young Oklahomans like Aubree and Case spend over a year working on “projects” to present at County, District, and State shows.
“We work with them since they’re born. We have to halter break them and then when they get halter broke, you can start washing them and getting the old hair out and helping it grow,” Aubree said. “I started this project in March.”
Case nods as Aubree explains the process. Months of trust-building, training, and bonding go into their projects before they even think about leading them at a show.
“We have to wash them and blow dry them and make sure they’re clean. We need to make sure everything is all clipped up so that he looks good. I’ve been doing this ever since I was in third grade, but I’ve been around cows since I was two.”
Last week, Aubree and Case spent hours in subzero temperatures delivering calves and taking care of cattle.
“We were having calves at that time, so we had to get them in the garage and the house to blow dry them and get them warm,” Aubree said. “We saved your [Case’s] twins and another calf. We saved five baby calves that just hit the ground—but we lost a lot of calves too since they froze.”
With all the time, money, and effort that goes into taking care of a project, the Geisler family is happy to be back out and showing off their hard work.
“I’m excited to just get out and get back to normal since COVID started. I didn’t get to show my steer last year which I guess was alright because he wasn’t really good,” Aubree said, pulling laughs from surrounding presenters and the family.
Though COVID is far from over, you can catch Aubree, Case, and other Northwest District students at the Northwest Junior Livestock Show March 2-7 at the Chisholm Trail Expo Center (111 W. Purdue Ave.) in Enid, Oklahoma.