altIt’s almost Washington County Fair time. Our household is busy gathering entries. Everyone is narrowing down their best artwork, sewing projects and garden vegetables to enter. I learned a lot last year when checking in entries for four kids at the Washington County Fair. This year I am going to be ready, and more organized (I hope!).

Our family has enjoyed summer. The new business is thriving in town, I have become a juggler of work and home. The first cutting of hay was put into the barn without any rain ruining it, and now we’re in the throes of a second. The kids have had adventures at camp, a trip to their grandparents and our oldest enjoyed a father/daughter adventure in Colorado. We’ve acquired a couple more horses and are enjoying nightly trail rides around the farm.

School will start soon. I always get a little sad this time of year. I really enjoy having the house full of kids all summer. However, our family is probably ready for some structure in our days. This year, the kids will be at our local elementary, middle and junior high schools. We are already working on our morning drop off strategy to get everyone where they need to be on time every day. I think this may be our busiest season of life yet.

We recently attended the Madison County Rodeo in Huntsville, Ark. Our youngest son was entered in the mutton busting competition. He’d enjoyed some success this summer at the Rodeo of the Ozarks and he was pumped up to make another go at winning a belt buckle.

We watched him from the bleachers as they turned him loose on a big, fat, white sheep. His face was full of determination as he leaned back on the animal. The sheep trotted out of the chute and walked down the middle of the arena like it had been trained to ride. He spurred it and the clowns tried to shoo it to run, but it was no use. The sheep was a little on the lazy side and he didn’t get a very good score. We proceeded to watch the rest of the entrants mutton bust, including a great ride by one of our neighbor’s kids.

He walked back to the stands with a big grin on his face when it was all over.

“Did you see that silly sheep mom?” he asked me.

I laughed too. I’m so thankful for his good attitude. It’s hard to watch your kids lose. There isn’t anything wrong with a will to win but we can’t win at everything. The greatest lesson I think I can teach my kids is to be humble. Its tough not to call out unfairness or throw a fit when something doesn’t go our way – but that’s life.

As we head back to school and fall activities, I hope I can impress an attitude of humility on the Harris kids. It’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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