By Kathi Bliss
Across Caldwell County this week, youth are preparing to take their turn in the show ring at the 36th Annual Caldwell County Livestock Show and sale, taking place at the Caldwell County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday.
Taking tips from seasoned exhibitors, many youth are taking an ambitious step into the ring for the first time.
Jenna Lloyd, 11, has put entries in the Project Fair in the past, but will be stepping up her involvement this year as she shows her dairy heifers, Lulu and Mikayla.
“My grandpa Luke was a dairy farmer,” Jenna said last week. “And my Uncle David gave us the calves so that I can start showing them and start making money from my cows.”
An animal lover from birth, Jenna has already started her herd, having sold a calf this winter to help pay for her projects.
Although she showed rabbits for short-term rabbit project in the past, Jenna said taking part in the main show is something new, and she’s a little bit nervous.
“I have friends that know what it’s like to be in the ring, but we haven’t talked about it too much,” she said, brushing a fly away from Mikayla’s face. “But I’ve been working with my dad on what I need to know about my heifers, and how to get them to set and stand, so I’m more excited than scared.”
She said that working with the animals and making sure that they are comfortable with her and not scared in the ring themselves is her main objective.
The open breeding class is different than other parts of the show, in that Jenna will not take part in Saturday night’s sale. However, she said she is excited about the Caldwell County show so she can use it as practice to get ready for bigger shows throughout the state.
Another first-timer, Jake Sellers, 8, has been working for several weeks with his broilers, and is ready to choose his pen to show on Friday afternoon.
“They’re fun, because you don’t have to do a whole lot with them,” he said. “I spend about 45 minutes a day feeding and watering and ‘walking’ my broilers.”
“Walking the broilers” gives Jake the opportunity to do what he really enjoys doing, which is playing in the expansive yard surrounding his Lytton Springs home. While his flock strolls near his feet, Jake spends time cleaning their coop, and working on balancing exercises.
“We tried Scouting, but that wasn’t quite the right fit for us,” said Jake’s mother, Andrea. “But his science teacher keeps animals, and he got interested in that, and last year, he did short term rabbits, so he decided he wanted to try something new this year.”
New, indeed. Jake has been receiving help from the Caldwell County Extension Office and his friends in the Chisholm Trail 4-H Horse Club who are experienced in the show ring.
“There are a lot of things we didn’t know that we have to learn,” he said. “About how to keep the records and what to feed and how to feed, so I’m having fun with it.”
Like Jenna, Jake is a bit nervous about taking his turn in the show ring, but that isn’t because he’s afraid he won’t do well.
Eyes on the sky, Jake said, “I’m worried… what if I don’t win?”
His parents simply chuckle at their boy’s ambitions.
Ambition is in no short supply for fifth grader Laney Willis, 8, who will be showing her hogs, Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr.
Named for the main characters in “Talladega Nights,” Laney’s hogs have already made weight, and are, she said, ready for the show.
“The most fun part is that I get to come out and play with the animals all the time,” Laney said, zipping between hog pens and pausing only to pet her dogs. She doesn’t think of the time spent preparing for the show as work.
“My dad is the one that bathes the hogs and has to do all that nasty stuff,” she said. “I just get to come out here and play, and play with my goat, Kid Rock.”
Laney, too, has been an animal lover her whole life, and said she hopes to do something with animals, probably be a veterinarian, when she grows up.
Although the first-timers often think of their projects as fun, the Caldwell County Junior Livestock Show and Sale takes serious work, and helps the exhibitors make serious money for their futures.
The Show takes place this weekend, beginning at 1 p.m. in the Caldwell County Show Barn at 1400 FM 20 East, between the LW Scott Annex and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department.
Broilers will be shown at 1 p.m., with turkeys shown immediately following.
Market rabbits will be shown after 2 p.m., with breeding rabbits immediately following. The short-term rabbit show will begin at 4 p.m. or after.
Market lambs will be shown at 5 p.m. or after, with ewes, market goats and breeding goats immediately following.
The action gears up again on Saturday morning, with the market hog show beginning at 8 a.m. Breeding gilts will follow, and the steer show will start at 10 a.m. or later. After steers, students will show breeding beef, and then compete for overall showmanship awards.
The Caldwell County Pet Show will begin at 2 p.m.
The crowning event of the Caldwell County Livestock Show and Sale, the live auction, will take place at 6 p.m., inside the Main Barn. Buyers’ groups for the upcoming Caldwell County Junior Livestock Show and Sale are still seeking donors to help support the hundreds of youth who will be involved in the Stock Show. To donate to a buyers group, contact Kenneth Sneed at (512) 398-3416, Daniel Law at (512) 398-6777, Brent Bartsch at (512) 995-0056, or Wesley Drenner at (512) 227-4455.