An experienced sheep showman, 18-year-old Kaleb Vondenhuevel, of Wapakoneta, hasnâ€™t just been around sheep during his 10 years of 4-H and he doesnâ€™t plan to quit raising them once he graduates next year.
â€śIâ€™ve been around sheep my entire life,â€ť said Kaleb, who grew up on a farm where they were raised and hopes to continue raising them long after heâ€™s done showing them at the Auglaize County Fair.
On Tuesday, prior to the show, Kaleb washed his sheep in the morning, wetted them down and then sheered them. With those grooming tasks complete, Kaleb said he let the sheep rest until about five minutes before they showed, when he planned on getting them up.
In total, Kaleb showed nine sheep Tuesday at the fair, one market lamb and eight in breeding classes.
With his breeding sheep, Kaleb said the judge will most likely take into consideration character and structure of the animal, also important, particularly with the market lambs, are how they walk, muscle and meat structure. Close attention is paid to the loin and rump.
â€śYou ainâ€™t out to get rich with sheep,â€ť Kaleb said, but with one year left to show at the Auglaize County Fair, heâ€™s planning on enjoying the experience. â€śItâ€™s all about the people you meet. You go out and show as hard as you can and then you have fun.â€ť
For Braden Greve, a 10-year-old from Wapakoneta in his second year of showing sheep at the Auglaize County Fair, itâ€™s definitely hard work, but the more time spent working with the animals, the easier it is.
â€śI spend a lot of time with them,â€ť he said after the beginning showmanship competition.
In that, Braden said the most important thing is standing the sheepâ€™s feet up so they are even.
He said there really isnâ€™t much of a difference between that competition and the market show.
â€śThe judge is tough but it helps you learn,â€ť Braden said.
The Schaub cousins, Lauren, 9, and Audra, 10, never expected to walk away with first- and second-place finishes, respectively, in the class, but working together for between an hour to two hours each day paid off.
They started every morning at 7:30 and were back to the barn again each night.
â€śWe walk, water and feed them, and work with them,â€ť Audra said. â€śWe practice setting them up.â€ť
Lauren said they just kept working the sheep.
â€śI walked him extra hard, looked at the judge and smiled,â€ť said first-year showman Lauren, who took first place in her divisionâ€™s showmanship.
Lauren said bringing sheep to the Auglaize County Fair was something she decided to do after Audra did it last year.
â€śItâ€™s fun to show, â€ś said Audra. â€śI think Iâ€™ll keep doing it.â€ť
Zoe Moorman, 12, of Wapakoneta, has shown sheep for three years.
She said in doing so itâ€™s important to keep the sheep between herself and the judge and to maintain good eye contact.
â€śYou have to try your hardest,â€ť Zoe said. â€śMy great grandpa raises sheep and I always wanted to show them.â€ť
Asked what she likes about sheep, Zoe replied â€” everything.
â€śIâ€™ve been around them so long,â€ť Zoe said. â€śFirst you start out working them every day and itâ€™s hard. It gets easier.â€ť
She said the sheep also tend to do better if the showman is relaxed.
With six sheep at the Auglaize County Fair this year, Zoe said sheâ€™s entered them in classes for market and breeding, but showmanship is her favorite.
â€śThey are judging me, not my lamb.â€ť