HUTCHINSON — The Marston family of McPherson County is known for raising top-quality animals.
The family has generations of the cattle industry behind them. Shad Marston’s grandparents had a herd of cattle, his wife showed pigs and he started his own heard of Charolais cattle in 1996.
“My mom won the state fair for two years with home-bred Angus calves; she even went to the international show in Chicago,” Shad Marston said of his family’s long presence in livestock shows. “She won a class at the international, so it’s been a long time.”
On Saturday, one of the youngest Marstons demonstrated the family tradition as well.
Shad Marston’s 11-year-old son, Isom, competed in the Kansas State Fair Junior Livestock show with his November heifer, Vanessa.
Isom and his older sister Addi, 23, have a herd of around 30 bred and owned Charolais cattle that they raised from two of Addi’s first purchased heifers.
Isom has been showing for about four to five years with his bred and owned as well as owned Charolais cattle. He said his favorite thing about showing cattle is meeting new friends at each show and being with his animals. Isom and his family travel around the world to compete with their Charolais cattle and this year he has done well with his November heifer, Vanessa.
“My heifer this year has won some classes and also won two county fairs,” Isom said.
Isom also has three other animals at home to care for — one bull and two heifers. When Isom is at home and not at a show, he cares for his animals by rinsing them in the mornings or evenings, then combing their hair to groom them, training them and then letting them out into the pasture for the night and feeding them.
Being the youngest sibling, Isom has been following in his sister's footsteps. Addi was very involved in the Charolais industry where she served as the National Charolais Queen in Minnesota three summers ago. Isom has been watching his older sister and learning from her since the beginning. He even said they make bets at shows to see who is the better showman.
“I think that you get it from your sibling. What they do, you do. Isom was a tag-a-long; now it’s his deal,” Shad Marston said.
“I always remind my sister that I won two showmanships in one day; and so I always try to make bets with her to see if I’m better than her at showing,” Isom said.
Isom is a little more laid back when it comes to being at a show, but for his sister, the whole day is organized, they said in unison.
“When she’s here, we have to be more active and more into it. The whole day’s planned,” Shad Marston laughed.
“She’s very particular; she’s like my dad and mom kind of mixed together, competition plus planning,” Isom said. “Some days I am laid back because sometimes I know I’m going to do good. Some days I know I will do bad. I try to get relaxed, focused and excited before I show.”
Along with his duties on the farm and caring for his animals, Isom is also the reporter for the McPherson County 4-H Livewires. His sister was also in 4-H during her show career.
While traveling all throughout the country attending many different cattle shows, Isom said his favorite has to be the Charolais Junior Nationals, which is held every summer in a different state.
"It's really cool to learn different things and you can do different things and you meet people from around the United States," Isom said.
Isom said he is learning everything from his dad and wants to be as good as his dad someday. He wants to learn how to fit and clip his own cattle eventually as well.
Isom and his sister often have to do things on their own at shows when their dad isn't there to help out. Isom likes when his dad isn't there sometimes because he can show him what he has done and is proud to show him.
"When it comes county fair time, mom and the kids have to do it when I’m gone," Shad Marston said.
"It gives me time to work without my dad because then I can show him, but sometimes I like when he’s here with me because I can learn things from him," Isom said.
Now Isom is following in his mother’s path as he added another project to his list of animals this year: a pig.
"Cattle are easier to show than pigs. I know more about cattle; pigs I don’t know a lot about. I’m not really a big pig person, I’m more of a cattle person myself. I’ve done cows so long I know how to do it. Pigs I haven’t done so long. I know how it works but I’m not a master at it," Isom said.
Shad Marston is excited to see where the livestock industry will take his son and is positive great things will come out of it.
"I'm competitive at nature, but just all the opportunities that showing cattle gives to all young kids the people that they meet that will be lifelong friends with and associates throughout the rest of their years. You show for just a short time the rest of your lifetime is hopefully long and prosperous, the more people you meet the more friends that you make the more easier that becomes it’s a very small world as you see now, coming from LeRoy, Illinois. I’ve been involved in teaching now. Extension where I can see the kids grow up. I believe in agriculture we all do. The future is strong this is one of the good things that’s going on right now is 4-H and the FFA side of it," Shad Marston said.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @MacSentinel.