09 June 2007

Achievement Day

At the end of the 4H season, kids with sheep and cattle show them at a big event known as "Achievement Day". The animals are shown in the ring (for those of you who haven't been to a livestock show, it's sort of like what happens at a dog show, only with bigger animals) and the kids are judged on the quality of the animal and on their showmanship skills.

Achievement Day is a big deal, starting the day before with preparation of the sheep for the show. The Boy spent several hours grooming his market lamb: you need to trim the fleece short so that the judge can see what's under there, otherwise it's like a bodybuilder competing in a big wool coat! This is a tough job involving hand shears and carders, but boy oh boy did that lamb look good when it was done!

His breeding ewe is being shown partially for her fleece (since we have a wool flock) so she didn't get as much trimming. It was a long hot afternoon for The Boy, but his animals looked great when he was done.

Monday morning we loaded sheep, kid, and supplies into the truck and headed to the fair grounds. Animals get unloaded into pens, then weighed, and then the waiting begins. The day is very long: we arrive at 7:30, do weigh-in around 9:00, then there's a starting parade at 10:00. There are so many animals to show that it can take a long time for your turn to arrive.

The Boy and his sheep did really well: his ewe lamb took third place (out of only three sheep, but they were very close) and he took third place in showmanship (out of seven kids) which was excellent considering this is the first time he's done anything like this. He was very pleased with the results and had a great time during the day. In the evening all the market lambs are sold at auction: his lamb was the lightest one there, weighing in at about half the size of the heaviest one! Still, he got $1.90/lb, which is quite respectable: the champion lamb sold for $2.25 and the average price at the auction for lamb was around $1.60. Some of the kids have a really hard time saying goodbye to their market animals, but The Boy handled it all very well. I think it stings a bit less when you have other sheep to go home to - lots of these kids purchase a lamb in January, raise it and play with it for a few months, then have to send it off to the butcher and go home to an empty sheep pen. Here, we have others to come home to, and his ewe lamb will be an ongoing project for the next two years.


  1. Anonymous9:12 pm

    Congratulations!! What a sense of accomplishment. And . . a beautiful lamb!!!!

    Love, AC

  2. Anonymous9:03 am

    Yummy lamb chops!

  3. Anonymous9:22 am

    I suppose it could make you a vegetarian very quickly !

  4. Anonymous6:00 am

    Nice job, Nolan! The sheep look fantastic, and it sounds like you left a good impression too!


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