Three generations of neighbors support cattle program

Published 9:30 pm Thursday, February 26, 2009

When you want to talk steers and heifers, there’s one Pike County family that will be willing to gab with you.

Bill Hixon and his nephew, Don Renfroe, are old hats at raising calves for show and they willingly impart the knowledge they have gained over the years to any young people who show an interest in “showing.”

Hixon started showing calves in the early to mid-1940s, when all a child had to do was go out in the pasture, pick out a calf and work with it.

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“We were just little ol’ farm boys working with calves from off the farm,” Hixon said. “The first calf show that I entered was at the courthouse on the square in Troy. We tied our calves to mimosa trees.”

Renfroe was the next in the family to show calves and, as a farm boy, showing calves was a natural outlet for young Renfroe.

“I’d always been around cattle so I wanted to see what I could do raising a calf on my own,” Renfroe said. “Back then when children did a 4-H project, they did it on their own. So, I did the raising and showing on my own.”

Renfroe showed calves for four years before he had to choose between playing sports and showing calves. But the lessons he learned in raising and showing calves translated to the sports arena.

“Raising and showing calves, you learn a lot about hard work, responsibility and commitment,” Renfroe said. “You learn things that will help you later in life and all through life.”

When Renfroe had children of his own, he encouraged his girls to participate in the 4-H program and to raise calves to show.

The biggest change was that parents had become more involved in the program and showing calves had actually become a family affair. “I did encourage the girls, but all three of them liked participating in the steer and heifer program and it was something that we all enjoyed, Susan, the girls and me,” Renfroe said.

And Renfroe admitted raising calves for show as “kind of an ego thing.”

“It was like playing ball,” he said. “You wanted your kids to do good, to excel and win. But, by the same token, they learned that there are things you have to do when sometimes you’d rather do something else.”

Although winning is always the desired end result, Renfroe said those who compete are usually an unselfish bunch.

“You know about the commitment and hard work that has gone into getting there so you want all the kids to do well,” Renfroe said. “When you compete on the local level, everybody gets to know everybody and you become a family.”

All three of Bill and Betty Hixon’s children showed calves and so did their grandchildren.

But now, showing calves has given way to sports. “You can’t play ball these day and show calves and do either one of them good,” Hixon said.