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Monday, October 28, 2013

After Convention- so what's next?

A lot of people wonder what comes after Convention.

Something that big breeders and small breeders, famous breeders and newbies all have in common.  We all come home and we cull, cull, cull.

Cull is something of a dirty word nowadays.  The uninformed tend to think it means kill, when the word cull actually means to "the process of removing breeding animals from a group based on specific criteria." (wikipedia, ya'll!).  Even the BOB winners come home and evaluate their stock and make determinations on what fits best with their breeding programs and what needs to move along.

In my case, this is exactly what I am doing.  Some litters of juniors are reaching that age where I have to decide if I am going to grow out one, none, or all of them.  It's time to move on any does and bucks that I don't see myself using very much.  Winter is coming and I need to reduce stock to care for.  This may mean that animals end up in a pet, breeding or show home.  Yes, it may mean that I end up having to fatally cull them.  At least in the case of the last option, I know that my animals are loved, respected and cared for even as they take their last breaths.  No rotting away in a filthy cage in a neglectful "pet home" found via the first person to contact me from Craigslist. 

In any case, I've already identified some young brood stock to let go.  There are a few others that I am having a hard time with.  Is that brother larger and going to be a brood, or is his brother just particularly small?  Those ears look terrible right now, but is it because they are in their uglies, or is that going to be a permanent trend?  What about that junior in uglies?  He's nice, but is he nice enough to become a Keep's herd buck?

So many decisions to be made and Convention has done nothing but made me pickier.  I find myself looking at some of the juniors left behind with a jaundiced eye, comparing them to some of the animals I sold recently.  I think my buyers got the best of me this time, as I am missing the bucks that left me.

At least Convention has given me a new perspective on what I need to improve and who will help me do that.   The current herd better watch out- there is always a new batch of juniors just around the bend, ready to make them work for their places.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Mentor?

Mentor: a trusted counselor or guide

Mentoring.  It can be simple, a bit of guidance for a big event, but short event, like our National Convention, or it can be a lifetime of committing yourself to helping someone learn and grow.  It can even be somewhere in between.

The question today is why do it?  Why "bother" trying to teach someone, to help your current or future competition grow so that some day they catch up with you- or gasp even surpass your knowledge.  We all know how the movies go- the student becomes the Master and yadda yadda yadda.

Well to start with, I love to hear myself talk.  ;).

Honestly, the shortest, simplest answer for me is pride.  I take pride in seeing "my" youth do well.  I take pride in hearing them rattle off genetics correctly, in asking them to help me evaluate a rabbit and seeing them catch all the same things I did, and maybe catching something I missed.  Even if they don't walk around shouting from the rooftops "Oh, Keep taught me everything I know!", I hope they will remember me fondly years down the road as someone that was kind, who was never too busy to answer a question, even if they felt a bit silly asking it.  In a hobby where there can be so much nastiness, I feel it is important to make an extra effort to be that bit of kindness that may be what keeps someone going.

In any event, hopefully they take it to heart and pass on their knowledge to others. 

Our knowledge and our understanding isn't something that should be jealously guarded. It should be a beacon, drawing in the curious, those who are thirsting to understand.  We should let them in to our private little world built by mistakes and missteps and educate them. 

Plus- there is nothing like seeing one of "your" kids or "your" adults run to you first with pride shining from their eyes, to tell you their big news.