In this modern age of technology, when most kids have their ear stuck to a cell phone or an iProd, the Diehl family, of Webster County, is a refreshing change of pace.
Married 23 years, Michael and Lynn Diehl are raising four children and teaching them values that can’t be learned electronically.  Justin, 20, Haley, 18, Corey, 16, and Jenna, 14, have been learning to show cattle since they were very small.  Justin began showing when he was 7 years old.
Although they both had rural backgrounds, this was something new for Michael and Lynn.  Michael admitted, “I always wanted to show cattle as a kid, but never did.”
The shy, friendly banter in the Diehl living room was almost comical at times.
Justin said, “He kind of forced us at first.”
“You guys can quit any day,” Lynn responded.  That drew a resounding “NO” from the four younger Diehls.  Justin said, “We’d go crazy.”  When asked if they liked showing, the kids nodded in unison.
The Diehl’s proudly show their registered Brown Swiss cattle at several shows.  The farthest they’ve traveled to show was Madison, Wis.
Lynn said all four kids will be exhibiting animals this year.  “Justin can show one more year, until he’s 21, in the Junior show.”  Lynn said when it comes to showing, “I guess you’re a kid till you’re 21.”
When it comes to the cattle, they exhibit all ages.  But the kids have their preferences.  For Jenna it’s “heifers.”  Corey, Haley, and Justin all prefer showing cows.  Each has their personal ‘best.’  For Jenna it was Reserve Senior Champion of the Junior Show.  For Corey it was third at Madison, Wis., and Honorable mention All-American.  Haley received Reserve Intermediate Champion of the Junior Show at Stillwater, Okla.  Justin got Senior Champion female of the Junior Show at Stillwater.  In Stillwater, it is the Southwest National Brown Swiss Show.
Showing cattle takes a lot of work and patience.  The kids start getting the cattle ready in the spring.  Haley said the hardest part is “breaking them to lead.”  They begin that process by tying the cattle in the barn.
“You just have to feed them water, hay, and grain in the barn.  Then we have a tub of water that they’ll (the kids) lead them to not very far away.  You walk them there slow and walk them back slow.  You just don’t let them walk real fast.”
Justin added, “You try not to.  Most of the time it doesn’t work.”
“When you start training whatever you’re leading, your cow or heifer, teach them how to walk real slow with their head up.”  She said you also must teach them how to stand.  “Cows and heifers are different.  You have to make them stand a certain way.”
Michael explained, “You want them to walk the same as when you show them.  That way they know how to walk when you’re leading them.”
Exhibiting their livestock is old hat for the Diehl’s, but that hasn’t always been the case.  Lynn said they learned by “watching others.”
Michael admitted, “The first show we went to, we didn’t know anything.  We were pretty green.”
Corey and Jenna were able to start exhibiting at a younger age than Justin and Haley because a Pee Wee class was started.
“Corey might have been three or four when he showed in Lebanon,” Lynn said.  “We had this cow and she led him instead of him leading her.  They went around that ring and he was just hanging on for dear life, and the judge said “Hang on cowboy!””
All four kids have “hung on” and become very good exhibitors, and it has paid off for them.  Lynn explained, that’s how they get their vehicle.  Their winnings have bought each one of their vehicles when they’re 16.  Laughing, she added, “We have to boot some.  The trucks are higher than these cars.”
The best part of showing cattle for Justin is “talking to all your friends that you meet just at the fairs.”
His mother enjoys listening to her kids argue each spring and fall.  Lynn said, “They’ll be eating and they’ll start arguing over who’s going to show what.”
The kids do find themselves competing against each other and Lynn said they all take it very seriously.
The Diehl’s have Brown Swiss cattle because “We had them when I was a kid,” Michael explained.  “I just liked their disposition and everything about them.”
On their 115-acre farm, the Diehl family has approximately 145 head of cattle.  They milk 67 head, but also have some beef cows.  They have been milking for 23 years.
Until two years ago, the Diehl’s were involved in the Mid-American 4-H.  All four kids are in FFA.  Since Justin is out of high school, he now has to pay yearly dues.
Michael’s advice to parents with kids wanting to exhibit, “Try to get good animals.  Take care of them, and have fun.”


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