— By JUDY SHERIDAN
AHS senior Ty Davis wasn’t raised on a cattle ranch. Before he entered Aledo schools as a freshman, he had never really thought about all that goes into putting a steak dinner on the table.
But he did enjoy hunting deer with his dad, and when he saw a set of antlers on the FFA table at eighth-grade orientation, he decided to check out agricultural science.
Not only was it a perfect fit, but it could prove to be Davis’s future vocation.
“I want to be an agricultural dot, dot, dot … I’m not sure what,” Davis, now Aledo FFA’s chapter president, said. “As much time as I’ve put into this, and with as much interest as I have in it, I can’t imagine myself doing anything not related.”
Davis, who was to find out Feb. 4 if he is District 2’s candidate for state office, has not only learned the ropes in a few short years, he’s excelling.
Last week he returned from the Fort Worth Stock Show with a $6,000 scholarship for winning fifth place in the Heifer Superintendent’s Beef Challenge, while his almost two-year-old Angus heifer, Lola, placed second in a highly competitive class of 18.
Another Aledo FFA student, Chapter Vice President Riley Sadler, received a $4,000 scholarship for scoring seventh in the Challenge, which included both a written test and a persuasive speech defending the entrant’s breed of choice. Sadler’s Stock Show animal, a Simmental, won a third place ranking.
Davis, who began showing Angus heifers as a sophomore, said this year, with Lola expected to calve Feb. 11, was the most stressful, but also the most rewarding.
“It may have been a little ridiculous to stress, but I did,” he said, “With first calf heifers, it can be two weeks either way.”
If Lola, haltered in her stall, calved during the night, he worried, she would not be able to reach back and care for her baby. Anything could happen.
Fortunately, however, Davis’ worries proved unfounded. Lola’s advanced pregnancy instead worked mostly to her advantage in the show ring, giving her greater depth of body and width through the ribs without hindering her forward motion.
“She walks well,” Davis said, explaining that judges want an animal’s back feet to come down in the same places their front feet did as they advance. “They call it filling the tracks.”
Davis calls Lola his “hands-down” favorite of the small herd he now owns — a cow and calf and two heifers — because he has cared for her since she was four months old, including breaking her to halter.
“She was a kicker,” he said, and needed a lot of hands-on care. “You wash them, walk them, get their trust,” he said. “She really calmed down after she was bred.”
Breeding Lola also slowed her fast rate of growth, Davis said, which began downing her show ring performances shortly after she won a fifth place at the Stock Show last year.
“She was a pole, pretty much,” he said. “It was stressful to see her get last everywhere she went. We bred her early to get her as deep as she could be for Fort Worth.”
If Davis is nominated for state office and wins election in May, it will keep him in Texas, at least for his first year of college, he said.
He would like to go to Oklahoma State and has been accepted there, as well as at Texas Tech, and is waiting to hear from Texas A&M and Tarleton.
Studying agriculture benefits everyone, Davis said, yet many seem unaware of its significance.
“There is a T-shirt going around with a naked (but censored) man holding a fork and knife that asks, ‘Where would you be without agriculture,” he said.
“The answer is, ‘naked and hungry,’ but a lot of people don’t realize that.”