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By: Texas FFA
May 13, 2013

Julie Vrazel, Texas FFA News Editor

The Smith County Livestock Show is over and Theron Brown has switched gears to focus on the breeding gilt show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Oprah, Theron’s spotted gilt, was the first breeding gilt project for the Brown family.

About 128 miles into the trip, halfway to Houston, Theron and his father, George Brown, receive a phone call with disturbing news.

“We got a call from the ag teacher. He said Theron had to walk his animal through the sale or he would be scratched,” George explained. “We were under the impression that his brothers could sell his project for him.”

So, George did what any father would do. He drove 128 miles back to Lindale to allow Theron to sell his steer.

After dropping Theron off at the county show with his brothers, George once again began the long journey to Houston, except he had a more pressing deadline. The breeding gilts must be in place by 3 p.m.

He nears the same exit where he had turned around a few hours earlier, and the truck begins smoking. After being towed to the local Ford dealership in Ennis, George discovers the truck is no longer drivable.

“The turbo had gone out in the truck, so I had to start finding another way to Houston,” George said. “I called Alyson Tjoelker with the Houston Livestock Show and let her know about our situation.”

George decides to rent a truck. Now, he just has to find a trailer to haul Oprah, because the truck did not have a gooseneck hitch.

“I went to Tractor Supply to look at placing a pen in the bed of the truck, but none would work,” George said. He finally found a U-Haul trailer to rent. Although it wasn’t going to be ide

al conditions for Oprah, he was willing to stop and check on her throughout the trip as long as he could finish the drive to Houston.

“Then, I find out the rental truck isn’t set up to tow, so I’m back to square one,” George explained.

Having exhausted all possible options, George sits down to evaluate the situation.

“My phone rings and it was James Simpkins, the manager at Tractor Supply, and he tells me he’s taking the pig to Houston and won’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” George recalled.

Around 5 p.m. Simpkins arrives at the Ford dealership and hooks up the trailer to his truck.

“George needed a truck that had a gooseneck hitch, and I had a truck sitting in the parking lot that was perfectly capable,” Simpkins said. “The Lord gave me a truck to help this family who had worked months getting ready for the show.”

The men reach the barns in Houston with Oprah around 11:30 p.m., 8.5 hours after check-in. But Tjoelker, who is the managing director of livestock competitions for HLSR, received updates throughout the day from George. So, the vet was available to check in the pig.

Theron, his brothers and mother reach the hotel around 2 a.m. The breeding gilt show starts at 8 a.m.

“It was a tough situation and not one we were expecting,” Theron said. “But with the help of Mr. Simpkins, my dad was able to get Oprah to Houston.”

The next morning the Brown family begins their usual show day routine.

Theron and Oprah were in the first class of spotted gilts. They won their class, advanced to the coveted champion drive, and won the breed show.

“It was a feeling I’ll never forget,” Theron recalled. “All the trouble of getting to Houston was forgotten, but I’m so thankful for Mr. Simpkins.”

“All the hard work, effort and time it took to raise Oprah, plus the difficult trip to Houston, was worth it when we won,” George said.

A 12-year-old boy, with the encouragement of his family and agriculture science teacher, Stephen Hindman, decided to show a spotted breeding gilt, and achieved a great accomplishment.

“Theron and his brothers show market barrows and steers, but they decided to give the breeding gilt show a chance,” Hindman said. “It’s amazing to see a family work together, overcome those obstacles and achieve their goals.”