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Showing livestock a way of life for Geis

Staff writer

The daily goat run began shortly after 7 a.m.

Lisa Geis would take her four goats, Slick, Spot, Sid, and Stela, down to the mailbox posted just beside the “Geis Farm” sign that stood over the mud and rock of 300th Rd. in the northwest reaches of Marion County. The four goats, who knew what all this meant — food — would be released from the ATV they had been loaded onto.

Lisa and her mom Deb would watch, and laugh. Back at their pen, the day’s food awaited the galloping goats. What to the goats appeared to be a critical dash for survival was, for Lisa, something anyone who shows needs to give their livestock: daily exercise.

“You do it to build up their muscle,” Deb Geis said.

A muscular goat is a good goat. Whether a wether or a doe, judges will feel the goat’s lower back to assess its fitness. A good goat should stand with its front legs directly under its shoulders and its hind legs square behind it. The goat should brace against the leg of the shower, tensing its body and showcasing its muscle.

Lisa has shown animals, including dogs, goats, cattle, pigs, sheep, and horses, for 11 years. Her sister Lauren, two years her senior, has been a major influence on her. Lauren is on a scholarship now as part of the livestock judging team at Hutchinson Community College.

Lisa doesn’t want to judge. She’ll be heading to Salina Technical Institute next fall to study dental assisting — a 9-to-5 job that assures her she’ll be able to do rodeos and shows on the weekends. Her mother had influence on her as well; Deb showed animals through 4-H when she was young.

“It’s taught me a lot of life lessons,” Lisa said of her time as a shower. “How to take care of something.”

While Deb may have shown her daughters the ropes of showing livestock, they took it upon themselves to pursue the practice.

“They dove right in,” their father Wayne Geis said. “These last several years we haven’t helped them much at all.”

Wayne didn’t show livestock growing up. His son, Logan, older than Lauren by five years, didn’t either. So he didn’t exactly bring an expertise for when his daughters chose their hobby.

“It was as new to me as it was to them,” he said.

Wayne didn’t realize how much work it would be, however, taking care of that many animals and preparing for shows.

At one point this summer, Lisa was raising eight pigs, four goats, and two heifers. For her part, Lisa won the round robin showmanship first prize at the county fair, and the coveted 4-H belt buckle that goes with it.

“Everyone wants the buckle,” Deb Geis said.

Lisa has traveled all over Kansas showing her livestock, including at the state fair, where she placed fourth in the senior swine showman award.

Lisa’s market hog Ducky won reserve champion honors at this year’s county fair. It was Ducky, who had been adorned with glitter for the occasion, she chose to show at the premium sale. Selling the animals is perhaps the most difficult part, though Lisa would only admit it was “hard the first year.”

“You really form a friendship with the animals,” Deb said. “We’ve had a lot of tears over the pigs. She has to walk them every day.”

While not as eventful as the goat run, Lisa has to walk the cattle and pigs every day, too, if it’s cool enough. While the pigs are all sold, the heifers are assimilated into the Geis family’s cattle herd, which can take some time.

“Some of them won’t herd when you come up behind them, they’re too tame,” Deb said.

While the Geises only keep some, they remember nearly all their animals. They recall Trenton, who had Wayne worrying for his daughter’s safety as she showed the exceedingly wild steer in the county fair, where he was crowned grand champion. They remember Cupcake, Lisa’s favorite steer who weighed 1,475 pounds and stepped on Lisa’s foot before a show.

“Time goes by so fast, it’s good to have something to remember things by,” Wayne said. “It’s good to have the memories.”

Last modified Oct. 9, 2014

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