Sleeping rough with your prize cow the night before a competition is all part and parcel of showing cattle.
There were almost 40 people that slept overnight in the stables at the Levin Showgrounds at the weekend, watching over their animals ahead of the annual Horowhenua AP&I Show.
With months spent grooming their animals for show, all the hard work could be undone if a cow was to roll over and spend the night lying on a poo.
Allowed to settle in, the resulting stain would be near impossible to remove from a cow's coat the following morning. The quicker it was attended to the better.
But for those sleeping rough with the animals, like Taranaki farmer Paul Vanner, it just added to the buzz of competition.
It was the same for those people who travelled a long distance to the show. All those with cattle took turns during the night to keep a close eye on the movements of their cows and cleaned up after any motion from the sawdust bed immediately.
"It stains them. It's easier to take care of it there and then," he said.
Vanner, his wife Christine, and his sisters Maryanne Murphy and Jane Skittrup worked in shifts through the night to look after eventual winner Lockraven Buster Romona.
"Any loud noises during the night can set them all off, like a noisy car going past," he said.
"We do it in shifts through the night to keep them tidy. "
Vanner said on average, one cow would have as many as three or four motions in a night.
"They're creatures of habit," he said.
A lot of work went into keeping the stabling area clean. Horowhenua AP&I Show chief steward Trevor Latimer had mucked out every stall and put in fresh sawdust in the weeks leading up to the show.
But it wasn't just the need to keep their cows clean that saw show entrants sleeping overnight at the Levin Showgrounds stabling area.
"It's a neat atmosphere. There's a camaraderie across every breed and every aspect of competition. You're socialising and getting to know people," he said.
"We sleep under the roof. It's a real team effort."
Lockraven Buster Romona won a Supreme Champion in Milk Award and Supreme Jersey Cow Award at the Levin show, which also carried with it the status of North Island Champion this year.
It was the fourth supreme award Lockraven Buster Romona had won and she was the fourth in her immediate family to be plucked from the herd for show duties.
She was one of a herd of 180 jersey cows that the Vanner family milk on their farm at Kaponga and that they had been entering in competition under the Lockraven banner for the past eight years.
His parents Pauline and Jim had also farmed cattle in Taranaki, while his children Mitchell and Kelsey had helped on the farm and at shows.
He said the dream was to breed an elite cow.
"One day ..." he said.
Vanner, who was also president of the Stratford AP&I Show, said showing cattle was extremely rewarding - although there were fewer shows nowadays in comparison with yesteryear.
In his neck of the woods there were still strong annual shows each year, like Stratford and Hawera, while he also travelled to Hamilton on occasion to compete.
The next competition show on the calendar was this week in Feilding.
Meanwhile, the overall Supreme Champion of the Show went to Addington, a 5-year-old Holstein Friesian from Manawatū.
Addington was picked from a herd of 150 after herd testing showed some great statistics. She was consistently among the top three in the herd.
She was brought to the show by owner Emma Kelsen, who prepared her with help from husband Isaac and son Charlie.
"We do it as a family," she said.
Addington's mother Adrena was purchased seven years ago from a New Zealand Dairy show in an effort to upgrade their stock.
Addington was Adrena's first calf. She had calved every year since she had started breeding and was always one of the first into the shed when it was time to start milking.
After competition, Addington was taken to the milking plant at the Levin show where she duly let down more than 40 litres of milk.
"She likes the show too. She's happy as," she said.