Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 22, 2013

Udder exhaustion

Heartwarming photo illustrates the hard work, sparse opportunities for rest on display during livestock show

Jayson Larson
The Athens Review

Athens — Sometimes, when sleep has eluded you for far too long, you make a rash decision.

You decide to take it where you can get it — no matter where you happen to be.

In the amazing image that accompanies this article, you see just that — 17-year-old Cassiddy Petty, a Mabank High School junior and Chandler 4H member — sleeping on a patch of hay near his designated holding area and cuddled halfway underneath his dairy cow, Baby Doll. Late the previous night, Petty swept all four categories in the Dairy Cow Show at the 53rd Annual Henderson County Livestock Show.

It’s not uncommon to see kids sleeping at the livestock show. But this image was truly a sight to see.

“It was actually kind of funny looking at first,” said Athens Review sales representative Kim Walker, who snapped the heartwarming picture. “We walked up to him and we were wondering, ‘Is that real? Is he really asleep?’ At first we were wondering if he was OK.”

He was just fine, thank you very much. Petty, who also had entries in the broiler show and the project show, said he’d had a long Wednesday at the show, which is always held at the Henderson County Fair Park Complex. He and his family arrived around 9 a.m. Wednesday and didn’t leave until around 11 p.m. that night.

Like so many other dedicated livestock show participants — many of whom aren’t even old enough to drive or even have a Facebook account (that’s age 13 on that latter one, if you’re wondering) — Petty took little time to rest and showed back up at the Fair Park around 6:30 a.m. By mid-morning, knowing he was going to be performing various duties until about midnight, he decided to take a brief siesta.

“I said, ‘I’m done. I’m going to crash with the cows for awhile,’” he said.

A steady breeze blowing through the Fair Park made things just a little bit nippy, so Petty nestled up to Baby Doll — who was snacking at the time — to catch some ZZZs.

About two hours worth.

“It was pretty warm,” Petty said. “We was just having a good time sleeping.”

If sleeping next to livestock rattles your sensibilities, you might not have ever been involved in a livestock show. Kids spend countless hours feeding and preparing and tending to their animals. In Petty’s case, he says he gets up around 4:30 each morning to feed and care for his animals.

So sleep is a luxury when you’re involved in this kind of gig. So is your free time. This is one of 23 shows of varying length Petty has been involved in since January. That leaves him little time to play his Xbox, which he says he bought with money he earned working at a dairy in Prairieville, just north of Mabank. 

How can anything be worth giving up all that?

“Well,” Petty said, “it’s something you’ve just gotta enjoy doing.”