Show contestants a bit sheepish |

Show contestants a bit sheepish

Josh Wilde stood quietly by his sheep pen and waited for the start. The 13-year-old was nervous for his second year in the market lamb show at the Moffat County Fair on Wednesday night.

“They said there’s a different judge and different rules,” he said, “so I’m afraid I’ll mess up.”

Craig Peel of Fort Collins judged the event. Wilde’s Suffolk lambs were a bit jumpy, which is likely because, at home, he plays with them like dogs, and the pets wanted to do the same in the arena, Wilde’s mother said.

Jerica DeLong, 8, was nervous too, because this was her first year showing sheep for 4-H at the Moffat County Fair. The youngsters are judged on showmanship and the quality of the lamb meat.

DeLong has shown them since she was 3, in the pee-wee division and other competitions, and she loves sheep.

“We raise them as babies,” she said, “then I show lambs and get to see them as they’re growing.”

Jerry DeLong said there’s a good reason his daughter raises lambs, and not other animals.

“When I was growing up, that’s what we did,” he said.

And carrying on that tradition is important, as is the bond it creates for them.

“It’s the family time we spend together,” DeLong said, “because we’ll haul her wherever she wants to go, and then there’s the time in the barn.”

Plus, his daughter is picking up important skills besides sheep farming.

“Responsibility is probably the biggest thing she learns,” he said.

Wilde is thankful for that, too.

“(Showing sheep) gives me something to do,” he said. “Without it, I’d probably be sitting at home watching TV.”

DeLong said his daughter is also building her independence and decision-making skills.

“She picked her two lambs from our flock,” he said. “I think they’re pretty good sheep. We’ll find out tonight.”

Jerica went home with res–erve champion for showmanship.

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