Fort Worth Stock Show

January 30, 2013

Educator has become a fixture in 'classroom' at Cattle Barn 2

The Granbury woman loves teaching children and their parents about farm animals at the Stock Show.

FORT WORTH -- Sondra Wallace no longer travels far and wide 200 days a year sharing fun -- and useful -- facts about agriculture with people of all ages.

But you can still find her some days in her "classroom" in Cattle Barn 2 at the Fort Worth Stock Show, teaching schoolchildren and their parents about livestock.

Wallace, who along with her husband, Bob, lives on a cattle ranch near Granbury, stays closer to home these days. "After 16 years, I decided to be a stay-at-home grammy," she says.

The Stock Show, where she has been a fixture since 1995, offers her an outlet for her passion of surprising folks about farm animals and, in some cases, setting the record straight about old wives' tales.

What part of a chicken egg would be the chick, she is fond of asking.

The guess is almost always the yolk.

Wrong, she says, explaining that a fertilized egg must contain all the nutrients a chick needs to develop from one cell to hatching.

The yolk, she says, is actually the first part absorbed.

Q: How can you tell what color egg a hen will lay?

A: By the color of its earlobes.

"A lot of what I talk about is safety related," Wallace says. Cattle, for example, cannot move their eyes up or down.

"So if you are pushing a baby stroller close to calves that are this tall," she says, gesturing, "those calves can't see the baby down there."

As his wife talks, Bob quietly takes care of the animals on display.

Like Sondra Wallace, whose family had a large ranching operation near Dodge City, Kan. -- a photo and blue ribbons from their grand champion steer at the 1923 Stock Show hangs in the administrative office -- his family has historical claims. His grandfather, Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Wallace was a foreman with the Hash Knife Outfit of the Aztec Land and Cattle Co., which ranched about two-thirds of modern-day Arizona.

The familial agriculture tradition has continued through the couple's daughters, one of whom lives on the ranch with them. As to whether it makes it to the grandchildren -- two boys in a family of girls -- the expectations are iffy.

"They won't amount to anything," Bob says with a chuckle. "We are spoiling them."

Patrick M. Walker, 682-232-4674

Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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