Sheep more than a project for youth

An experienced sheep showman, 18-year-old Kaleb Vondenhuevel, of Wapakoneta, hasn’t just been around sheep during his 10 years of 4-H and he doesn’t plan to quit raising them once he graduates next year.
“I’ve been around sheep my entire life,” said Kaleb, who grew up on a farm where they were raised and hopes to continue raising them long after he’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.
“You ain’t out to get rich with sheep,” Kaleb said, but with one year left to show at the Auglaize County Fair, he’s planning on enjoying the experience. “It’s all about the people you meet. You go out and show as hard as you can and then you have fun.”
For Braden Greve, a 10-year-old from Wapakoneta in his second year of showing sheep at the Auglaize County Fair, it’s definitely hard work, but the more time spent working with the animals, the easier it is.
“I spend a lot of time with them,” he said after the beginning showmanship competition.
In that, Braden said the most important thing is standing the sheep’s feet up so they are even.
He said there really isn’t much of a difference between that competition and the market show.
“The judge is tough but it helps you learn,” 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.
“We walk, water and feed them, and work with them,” Audra said. “We practice setting them up.”
Lauren said they just kept working the sheep.
“I walked him extra hard, looked at the judge and smiled,” said first-year showman Lauren, who took first place in her division’s showmanship.
Lauren said bringing sheep to the Auglaize County Fair was something she decided to do after Audra did it last year.
“It’s fun to show, “ said Audra. “I think I’ll keep doing it.”
Zoe Moorman, 12, of Wapakoneta, has shown sheep for three years.
She said in doing so it’s important to keep the sheep between herself and the judge and to maintain good eye contact.
“You have to try your hardest,” Zoe said. “My great grandpa raises sheep and I always wanted to show them.”
Asked what she likes about sheep, Zoe replied — everything.
“I’ve been around them so long,” Zoe said. “First you start out working them every day and it’s hard. It gets easier.”
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 she’s entered them in classes for market and breeding, but showmanship is her favorite.
“They are judging me, not my lamb.”