Ralls-Hickman Family : Raising Ladies in the Show Barn


A group of stock show loving family members –3 girls, their mom, and a mentor.

Like many, the Ralls-Hickman  family was not born into the stock show life style, rather there was a spark ignited that led to a lifelong passion.  Kristine Ralls and her husband Pete have 6 kids – a blended family that looks similar to a modern day Brady Bunch. Kristine and her girls were originally a ‘horse family’ and traveled many miles on the Quarter Horse Circuit. They fell into the cattle business, and have never looked back.  Below is an interview with Kristine – she relates back to experiences in the barn and raising girls into young women through cattle.

“Our first exposure to cattle was a 4-H market steer for Victoria our oldest. Unfortunately, we have always been city slickers so we have not had our own property to raise any livestock. We grew accustomed to boarding our horses and once we got that first steer we started boarding him. From there, our cattle story grew to 2 more sisters showing steers. We were fortunate to also build a friendship and add another family member with Dwight Heffner. Dwight has raised a couple national champions in the Herefords and has bred some of the best show cattle on the west coast. Dwight has allowed and leased pasture space and basically let us take over “the barn” for a cool room and working cattle daily.  Because our family believes in hard work and doing the work ourselves for the past 10 years, the girls and I have traveled 20 minutes one way 2 times a day to take care of our show steers and heifers.  As the girls have gotten older and moved on past the local steer shows we have continued to grow our herd and breed cattle.


The BIGGEST thing my girls have learned is diversity and life’s not fair. We’ve learned that hard work and dedication have to come from within and has to be satisfied by yourself, your family etc…  not someone else’s opinion. We’ve learned pride and there is no better feeling than showing up to a show and people acknowledging how great your stock looks that the work that has gone into getting them to that point. (nutrition, rinsing two times daily, working showmanship, and of course how the girls are dressed)  No joke, it’s a family motto “look good, feel good, show good”. Regardless of the outcome of the show, we’ve learned that the small details and the extra mile are what separate us from others.  We’ve learned that first impressions make lasting impressions.  We’ve learned to work together as a family and take pride in each other’s success. We’ve learned how to be humble, compassionate, composed, and confident.

Speaking of confidence, the confidence that my daughters have obtained and the presence they carry stems from the show ring and exhibiting cattle they are proud of.  Every time one of my daughters led a steer or heifer into the ring, the amount of time that THEY put into that animal showed, and therefore they had their own feelings of pride and accomplishment.

They love to help others and share their passion and heart to other kids wanting to learn more and those that share the same desires the girls have.

Our oldest daughter also earned a full ride scholarship for livestock judging which alone is incredible, but the public speaking and knowledge that came from this is huge as well. “

Every stock show family is unique and the Ralls-Hickman family is no exception! How can you relate to their Live it. Love it. Lead it. lifestyle?



Recipes from the Ranch

It’s county fair season in Texas and one of our favorite cooks, Mrs. Alise Nolan, has once again shared a few great recipes that are near and dear to her heart this time of year. We hope each of these recipes find their way into your home this fall and wish the Nolan family the best of luck at their upcoming fairs!

Yamboree Carnival Photo C

Yamboree Carnival  Photo Courtesy of Photo’s by Ruel

Our county fair is almost here in our little part of Texas! The East Texas Yamboree starts this week and our entire county could not be more excited!

This homecoming of sorts for our family and friends is always filled with fair foods, Yam Pie contest, livestock and market shows and sales, and ag mechanic competitions. Then it’s our two huge parades that house our Yamboree Queen and her court along with marching bands, club, community and schools all vying for the best decorated floats!

This year our youngest daughter will carry on the family tradition of showing her market hogs at this festival and then the following week with her broiler and hogs again in our neighboring county for the Harvest Festival where my husband serves on their board as their President.  Each of these festivals are the result of countless volunteer hours and result in great memories for both kids and adults alike.

School actually lets out in our small town of 5,000 as do those of the neighboring communities around us. There’s just too much to fit in! From taking in the square to eating a corny dog or a Union Hill School’s hamburger and a piece of Gilmer Band’s Yam Pie as you ride carnival rides. You can listen or dance to the bandstand’s live music and catch up with friends you may not have seen for years!

Ilissa & Bethany as they eat on the square while watching Audrey on the carnival rides

Ilissa & Bethany as they eat on the square while watching Audrey on the carnival rides

To culminate our Yamboree each year our family for the last 20 years throws a party the final night hosting our friends and family in the barn at our ranch.  We call it our ‘Nolan Family and Friend Barndance’…but very little dancing is now done! The younger crowd eats, visits and then leave for some dancing of their own in our old school gym in the middle of our town where Texas Country Bands come to play at the ‘Yamboree Barndance’.  I guess you could call our event the pre-party of sorts.

All my girls will be home this weekend to watch our Audrey dance in our Yamboree Queen Alexis William’s court and Coronation and be there to cheer her on as she shows her market hogs and hopefully makes the sale. We’ll eat plenty of fair food, but one thing I enjoy most is making sure I get a few home cooked meals in their stomachs before they return back to college and their homes away from home.

Queen Alexis Williams

Queen Alexis Williams & her court during her Coronation of the 77th East Texas Yamboree

These recipes I share with you today are nostalgic for us and our kind of ‘comfort food’ that we enjoy. I’ve added in my Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes and a good friends Yam Pie recipe. With it being Yamboree time for my family I had to get some yams or sweet potatoes in this Sure Champ Blog Recipe post!

Have a wonderful rest of fall everyone!  This is my favorite time of the year, not only because of the food, but for the excitement and memories we make as a family and life lessons my girls have learned by being smack dab in the middle of agriculture with us standing right there beside them.

As my oldest daughter Ilissa loves to say…. ‘Let’s Go Yammin’! 

Pork Roast & Sweet Potatoe

Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 large pork roast, approximately 4 lbs. in weight
  • 6 – 8 sweet potatoes, skinned and cubed in 3 x 3 cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to season
  • water to cover roast 3/4 the way up the sides

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4 Tips for Starting a Successful Cattle Project


Just getting your next cattle project home? Ready to have your best show year ever? We all know that every day matters when your trying to take home that champion banner. From day one cattle need the right kind of care and nutrition. Here are four integral tips that will make the transition from breeder to your home much easier – on the calf and you!


- ask the seller about the worming and vaccination protocol that the calf has received

- discuss with them the need for a booster for respiratory vaccine and wormer


- try to get at least a bag of the feed that the seller has them on. Mix with new feed to slowly transition over a week period.

- if feed is not available, start them on a smaller portion of your feed along with plenty of hay

- use Vita Charge Paste, Drench, Stress Tub or Liquid Boost when transitioning to help aid in keeping the digestive track healthy and stay on feed

- then incorporate Sure Champ as a top-dress on your feed to keep your animal’s digestive system healthy and appetite stimulated.


- be consistent in keeping the same schedule

- feed at regular intervals and the same time each day

- make sure you clean any old feed out of the bunk or feed pan as soon as the animal is done eating

- bring cattle in the barn or under fans to keep temperature cool and consistent

- wash with soap no more than a couple times a week while rinsing and conditioning their hair the rest of the week


- start by letting the calf get used to its surroundings

- pen wash the calf without halter to help them calm down

-  initially tie them up for short periods of time and do not leave them unattended. Gradually work them up to a few hours

- if possible always tie them up with other cattle to keep them calm

- do not leave halter on for them to drag

Remember, try to always make each experience positive with your new project – for them and for you! Building trust, good health and a steady schedule with your project will aid your success. Best of luck!

5 Tips To Survive FFA Convention


National FFA Convention is massive. From October 29-November 1 there will be over 60,000 blue jackets in Louisville, Kentucky. You go to grow, lead & succeed – here are our five quick tips to make the most of your trip!

Tip #1 — Shoes! It’s all about packing the right pair of black shoes. You know the drill – black, closed toe, and oh yes comfortable for all the miles you’ll be logging during National FFA Convention. (Girls want them cute, too!) We’ve found the best mix of all the criteria right here.


Where to buy? 1: John Lewis, $38 2: Sole Society, $69.95, 3: heels.com, $54.99

Tip #2 – Communication! As we said earlier, the convention is huge, it’s possible that you could lose your group. So, keep your cell phone charged, have a game plan with your advisor and stay with a buddy. If you can’t get to an outlet, carry one of these! Battery Phone Charger

 Tip #3 – Expo! Take advantage of the Expo experience. You’ll get to network and explore opportunities from over 450 industry-leading exhibitors. Oh, and bring a bag to collect all the goodies! And don’t forget business cards, especially if college and internships aren’t too far off.

Tip #4 — Your Peers! How cool to have this many fellow FFA members in one place at one time? Be outgoing and network with students from different states and areas. Sharing ideas can help you grow your own chapter and programs at home.

Tip #5 — FUN! It’s all around you. Not only are there multiple concerts and dances, but the World’s Toughest Rodeo is returning to the convention this year.


Sammi Schrag : junior spotlight

sammi-headerSammi Schrag – she’s a 5th generation shorthorn breeder who was born into the business and has loved every second of it.

The 16-year-old high school sophomore lives in Marion, South Dakota on her family’s ranch. Schrag Shorthorns runs 100 shorthorn cows, 50 recips and hosts two annual production sales a year.

Sammi’s passion isn’t just for the showring.  The well-rounded junior puts her leadership skills to work as the president of her FFA Chapter and 4-H Club as well as the vice president of the South Dakota Shorthorn Junior Association.  Outside of her ag duties she enjoys cheerleading, basketball, student council, band and church youth group.  To balance it all and stay organized, she’s a huge list maker! “If it isn’t on my list, it doesn’t get done. I think lists are a huge help,” says Sammi.

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Reproduction Service Internships

genetic and reproduction focused internshipReproduction service internships look to offer much more than the usual office experience, and more of a hands on experience. Internships are a great way to enhance your resume, but if you are looking for an internship that allows you to step away from the computer and office and into the laboratories and on research farms check these reproductive and genetic focused internship.

Accelerated GeneticsAccelerated Genetics internships provide valuable real-life experience through a variety of opportunities working hands-on within the A.I. industry. These experiences will help individuals prepare for a future career. Each internship experience will take place during the summer. Accelerated Genetics offers college students internships in the areas of: Farm & Barn, Laboratory, Genetic Services, Marketing Communications, and Sales & Service. Deadline to apply is November 15. Click here for more information and to apply.

Trans Ova GeneticsAs a part of the Trans Ova team, you will be assisting veterinarians in performing procedures such as embryo transfer (ET) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Responsibilities also include assistance in flushing, freezing and thawing of embryos, organizing and preparing recipient and donor cows for ET and IVF procedures, completing necessary paper work and data entry, and maintaining the sanitation and organization of supplies in the working areas. Deadline to apply is October 15. Click here for more information.

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