It’s too bad that Carson Ballinger can’t get “frequent flyer” mileage for his pickup and trailer.
You just never know where he might show up.
The 18-year-old veteran 4-H member is enrolled in the White Horse Christian Academy of Stephenville, where he is a senior.
When he’s not taking care of his school work, he might be helping his dad either on the road or on the family cattle ranch, just west of Morgan Mill.
This week, Ballinger will manage to stay in one place long enough to show two heifers and a lamb that he groomed to enter the 2019 Junior Livestock Show of Erath County, which concludes Saturday with the 6 p.m. Sale of Champions.
After that, Ballinger and his family will be taking a few serious road trips — competing in livestock shows in Fort Worth, San Angelo, San Antonio, Houston and Austin.
As a member of the board of directors of the National Junior Red Angus Association and the Texas Junior Angus Association, Ballinger usually can take care of that business in most cases via conference calls. But his board responsibilities have taken him far away from home, however, such as last summer when he attended a national convention in South Dakota.
STILL LOVING IT
Despite staying so busy, Ballinger said he still loves taking the time to raise and groom his own animals to compete. His favorite breed to enter in shows is Red Angus.
“I still love it. I plan to keep showing up as long as I can, and I plan to have my future kids in 4-H showing as soon as they can walk,” said Ballinger, who began entering livestock shows at about age 9. “I just like having a project — being a caregiver to an animal and learning the process of raising cattle and putting it to work in the field.
“The show industry is a very tight-knit community. I have a very good network of friends, and it’s really something to look forward to.”
Ballinger said about five or six years ago, he had a heifer that won reserve titles in the Austin, San Angelo and Erath county shows.
Ballinger attended Morgan Mills schools through the eighth grade, then transferred to Huckabay. He went to Huckabay School for his freshman, sophomore and junior years and was in the FFA there.
Ballinger helps his father, Tony, on the family’s ranch, the Cross B Cattle Company. In turn, Carson’s 13-year-old sister, Henley, helps him with his lamb when he runs short on time. And Carson gives a hand to Ashley with her animals when he can, as well.
“It’s definitely a team project,” said their mother, Allison Ballinger.
Henley, who has been entering animals in livestock shows since she was about 7, has had some impressive results in her own right. Last year she won best of show for a rabbit in the Fort Worth Stock Show. She has won a reserve and best of show title in Houston, and even captured the youth best of breed at a major convention show in Boston, Massachusetts.
Although Ballinger enters some lambs, he said he’s actually more of a “heifer guy” even though they take “a little bit longer to take care of.”
He said he has built his own herd of cattle to about 40 or 50 head.
Ballinger hopes to attend Tarleton State University for agriculture-related studies, while continuing to help on the family ranch.
“I plan to have agriculture business studies, and put it to work in the cattle industry,” Ballinger said, adding, “I would love to get some other opportunities in the cattle industry.”