The walls of the barn at the National Western Stock Show Complex echoed with the whine of clippers and the hum of blow driers as Douglas County resident Charles Granie and 39 other Catch-a-Calf …
The walls of the barn at the National Western Stock Show Complex echoed with the whine of clippers and the hum of blow driers as Douglas County resident Charles Granie and 39 other Catch-a-Calf exhibitors stabled and began preparing their animals for judging that will complete their year-long project.
“I caught a calf at last year's stock show and now I am here so they can judge how well I did the job of raising the animal,” Granie said. “You don't keep the calf you catch. They deliver one to you about May. I actually got a calf from South Dakota because the calf I was supposed to get got out of the pen and ran away.”
The Castle View High School graduate said the calf he raised was a big baby and it took two to three months before he was able to establish a good relationship and friendship with his calf that he named Bubba.
Granie, a member of the Douglas County 4-H, worked with Bubba at least an hour a day and frequently for several hours a day on the weekends.
He said he grew up on a ranch so raising a calf wasn't new to him. He said he spent long hours grooming and feeding the calf that is now a steer that weighs between 1,500 and 1,600 pounds. He said he was pleased with all he did to raise Bubba. He said if he could change anything he would feed the animal more so it would weigh more for the show.
“It is always hard not to get really attached to the steer because you spend more hours with the animal than most people spend with their dogs,” he said. “I have had experience as I have raised and sold four steers at National Western so I know the feeling when time comes to part with the animal. But it will be hard to see Bubba go.”
He has plans for the future that begins when he starts classes Northwestern Community College. He said he isn't sure about a major but is sure it will be in the agriculture field.
Catch-a-Calf candidates come from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming to compete in National Western Stock Show's longest-running program of practical beef cattle management. Young men and women 12 to 18 years old from the four states are eligible to apply to the program.
During one of four rodeo performances, candidates seek to catch one of the 10 calves released in the corral. Each year 40 calves are released and this year there are 52 candidates so not every candidate catches a calf.
Successful participants catch a calf, then later get a calf that they feed and raise, and return with the animal one year later as a market steer. The market animals are judged on rate of gain, quality of fitting, and carcass quality. The exhibitor is judged on showmanship, their record book, and a personal interview.