Stanley Haedge is a fierce competitor. When he sets his mind to something, he not only does it but he does it well.
Take college basketball, for instance.
Though he hadn’t been recruited or offered a scholarship, he decided he wasn’t done playing. So he walked on at Tarleton State University, worked hard and by midterm was a starter. By the end of the season he had secured a full-ride and went on to be the team’s 3-time co-captain and co-Most Valuable Player of his senior season. He remains the university’s tenth all-time leading scorer and second-highest average scorer. In 2009, he was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
That competitive spirit has served him off court, too, translating to a 40-year career as a dairyman and many accomplishments in the show ring.
“We do a good bit of showing,” Stanley says. “It’s not too profitable, but it’s fun and competitive and you get to meet and talk with a lot of different people at the different shows — all stuff I really enjoy.”
Though showing dairy cattle is just a fun extension of what he does every day, don’t think he takes it any less seriously.
“When we go to a show, I don’t like to finish last. I like to be at the top. I strive to be the person to beat,” he says.
And though he’s not the one in the ring — these days it’s his grandchildren who lead the cows into the arena — that competitiveness lives on.
“I think, most people, when they hear Kow-Castle is coming to the show, it’s going to be competitive,” he says. “There’s going to be something that we lead out there that’s going to be pretty hard to beat.”
Just recently, they’ve exhibited the grand champion cow in the Holstein show at the Fort Worth Stock Show and multiple grand champions at the Southern National Holstein Show. His granddaughters have even won $10,000 college scholarships with their cattle at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition.
But since having the highest-quality showstring doesn’t always translate to the best producers, Stanley is dedicated to finding the right balance between cattle with the best conformation and cattle that will produce the most — and best milk. It’s just one way his competitiveness and passion for the industry helps him improve his cowherd year after year.
And, to make it in this business, you’ve got to be passionate. After all, it’s not easy, and it’s not the type of work you can leave at the office when you go home at night.
“It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he says. “Somebody is doing it [all day]. I can leave for a little while, but I can’t be away from my cell phone in case there’s a problem.”
But he wouldn’t trade it for any other job on the planet.
“I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to have the occupation I’ve had,” Stanley says. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into it, but it’s a good place to live and a good place to raise your kids. And we get to produce the products that consumers want to eat or drink.”