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Life in the Barn    

When the alarm clock goes off at 5:30 in the morning, my day begins at my favorite place, the barn. From the looks of it, the barn isn’t anything special on the outside, but the memories it holds on the inside are my most treasured. My Grandfather originally built the barn out of old scrap wood and secondhand materials because he didn’t have much as a Portuguese immigrate to this country. Although money was limited, he provided for his six children through hard work and resourcefulness. Over time the old barn has changed but one thing has remained the same; it has been the place where livestock are cared for, important breeding decisions are made, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are shared.

My barn journey began by helping my grandfather do chores; feeding pigs, goats, sheep and an occasional drop calf. I wasn’t much help in the beginning as I could barely see over the fence, but it is where my dream of livestock ownership began. My dream became a reality, like most 4-H members, at the age of nine when I received two ewes, Jaime and Spot, as family gifts. They were just ordinary ewe lambs that I showed at my very first fair, but they became the matriarchs of my sheep flock. Spot never won herself, but she has produced several champions. She is seven years old now, and my most cherished possession. I love that ewe! Between my brother, Kyler, and I we own 38 ewes.

Although my family is known for raising sheep, I had the desire to create my own path. So I ventured into the swine barn and I quickly fell in love, with pigs of course. The swine portion of the barn was awesome because I didn’t have to share livestock with my younger brother. To date, I have six sows and two gilts and I have been showing swine for the past seven years.

Working with my livestock every day has helped me in many ways. I have to make business decisions about which animals I keep or sell. It is not always easy, but my livestock judging skills have improved. I put these skills to work on the Nipomo FFA Livestock Judging Team. Last year I was humbled to win the High Individual in the state and our team was crowned the State Champions in the Livestock Judging Contest.

If you want to do anything well, it takes dedication, patience, and hard work. I spend many hours in the barn working with my animals practicing showmanship, fitting and managing their health and nutrition. These animals depend upon me. While I enjoy it, I have to make difficult choices and sacrifices about other activities like hanging out with friends or playing sports. Although these sacrifices have been difficult, I wouldn’t trade my time in the barn, fairs, shows, or fields days, for anything. This is where I have learned life lessons, gained lifelong friends and found the true meaning of an abundant life. 

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