This week marks 6 year that I haven’t been able to compete at our county fair. I was in 4-H and my project was horses. I competed in the county horse show a few times but it wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing… I show cutting horses, this wasn’t a show. It was western pleasure and halter, barrels and key hole… it was fun but never really what I wanted.
When I became a Freshman in highschool I joined FFA. My mom figured I’d stick with showing the horses, etc as my project but my dad and I had other ideas in mind. So I started out showing sheep. I had 2 market lambs and 2 registered Dorsets. I knew absolutely NOTHING about sheep other than they went blat. haha. That first year was a huge learning curve. Anything and everything that could possibly go wrong did. I was last in every class. My market lamb was almost too fat (there was a weight limit) to show at the district fair, my ag teacher slick seared (took all the wool) off my Dorsets, you aren’t supposed to do that! It was enough that went wrong to make a person Give Up! I was flustered, my parents were flustered, one of our other ag teachers couldn’t believe the one did it. It was a mess.
Most people would have quit. Not me… I must have a screw loose. Mr. Dillard raised and showed Hampshire Sheep (he’s the one that couldn’t believe the other teacher did what she did) so I pulled him aside at a fair and told him, “I want better. I’m not giving up, please help me.” That’s just what he did. He got me in contact with a wonderful woman in Buffalo that raised and showed Dorset sheep. My parents and I loaded up and headed her direction. I wound up buying 4 more Dorset Ewes from her. In the mean time my dad and I came up with a couple crossbred ewes also.
In FFA you can show up through the 4th November after you graduate which for most people turns out to be about 21 years old. You can bet, I was one of them. I never gave up. I learned how to “fit” sheep, I got some good sheep and I started winning. Did I always win, Nope, but hey that’s part of it. I developed the attitude I wanted to do better than I did my previous time out.
By my last year showing which was 2004, I made a come back from that first year. It was an outstanding year. I never asked for what I got but I’ll never give it back either. I walked away from our state fair with Grand Champion Dorset Market Lamb (that I raised I’ll have you know), Grand Champion Dorset Ram and Grand Champion Dorset Ewe. I kicked butt!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the showing. Most people ask why I didn’t go on to show in the open (adult) shows but it’s not the same. I met so many great kids and we formed bonds. You have absolutely no idea what kind of great kids are out there until you watch kids jump in and show other people’s animals as if they were theirs, sheep people jump in and show hogs or cattle, cattle people showing something they are unfamiliar with… PC and I will be going out tomorrow night to partake in some of the fair festivities and take his daughter out to see the animals. I can only hope, maybe someday she’ll be a interested in showing an animal and I can help pass on the wisdom and enthusiasm.
Peace, Love, & County Fairs