There was no end to the currying, cleaning, and shearing that went on. These lambs are pretty picky in the beauty parlor!
We waited on the edges of our seats with anticipation. . .
As for the weigh-in, the lamb can't be too skinny, nor too fat. Ryenne's weighed in at 139 lb., which Grandma J tells us is perfect for her lamb. I'll trust her on that.
From now on, Flufflebugs is an official resident of the County Fair. That means chores need to be done each morning and evening. In other words, between the chores, weigh-in, lamb show, and the sale, YOU (the owner) are also an official resident of the County Fair.
Thursday, the lamb show, is the BIG day. If you are lucky enough to be Ryenne, this means Dad wakes you up early to go do chores and take you out for breakfast. Then, you get all dressed up in your best duds, which in 4-H terms, means dark pants, white, collared, button up shirt, and 4-H patch on the right shoulder. (If you want to look extra cute for the judge, you should wear a matching green ribbon in your pony tail.)
Next, you wait. And wait, and wait. And if you are Ryenne and your lamb is in the 14th class, watch an awful lot of lambs being shown while you wait. The lambs are placed in classes according to weight, lightest lambs first. Because Ryenne's lamb was on the heavy end, it was placed in one of the last classes.
Now, it's time for the big moment. The one we have been walking this fluffy little guy toward all summer long (literally). You see, these people know just what they are looking for in a lamb. And for a newcomer like me, it's a lot to remember. The pros (like my in-laws) are scoping out the competition, with fancy terminology such as "finish", "twist", and "butt wool". Yip, you heard that last one right. What you want on your lamb (if I learned anything at all) is a lot of muscle and the right amount of finish. This was described by Courtney to me as this: "If your lamb has too much finish, he shouldn't have eaten that last dessert". All of this is the reason we walked the lamb all summer long. If not, Flufflebugs would have been much too fat.
You may notice the way the lambs are standing. Besides walking her lamb almost every day, Ryenne also worked with Flufflebugs in "showmanship". It's a science. From what they tell me, you want to hold the lamb's neck up high, and "brace" or push into the lamb with all of your weight. This will force him to push his hind legs back, thus showing off all of that fine muscle.
Ryenne was too, and did a great job. She made her daddy proud with the way she handled her lamb. She ended up with a blue ribbon, and even better. . .won "star choice" in her class. This means she and Flufflebugs were one of a few out her class to be chosen to return for Grand Champion.
Look at that showmanship. . .
The judge talking to Ryenne. Out of 44 lambs in the star choice class, Ryenne and Flufflebugs placed 24. This is pretty good, because there were 321 lambs in the show. It all makes for a long day, and we go home dirty, sweaty, stinky, and tired. (And happy. It was a fun day.)
Finally, on Saturday morning, it is time for the sale. Another big day. The auction starts with Grand Champion first, and sells for a whopping $3200. (It pays to be grand). Ryenne's lamb is the 24th to be sold. When the auctioneer calls out "SOLD!", we are surprised to hear that Aunt Kelsey's salon is the buyer. She and Uncle Shawn have big hearts. He made a nice little contribution to Ryenne's college fund. Following the auction, Shawn can choose to either keep the lamb, or turn it back to the market, which will slaughter it (I know it sounds heartless).
Shawn chooses heartless.
Upon this realization later that evening, Ryenne sheds a few tears and her and Daddy have a good talk while she goes to sleep. According to he and the experts, Flufflebugs has filled the measure of his creation. Or something like that.
And now? Grandma and Grandpa J are still talking about how Flufflebugs was one of the best lambs in the show. That judge. . .
You will be happy to know that right this very moment, Flufflebugs parents are shacked up together in an effort to produce another blue ribbon junior. Grandma and Grandpa's little operation produces a lot of good lambs. And it's a science I tell you. A science.
So, until next year. Happy lambing.