This is the first year showing our sheep. Keith grew up in the cattle business – buying and selling cattle all around the world, and showing them, so he knows what is involved to get ready for a show. I grew up going to my sister’s horse shows, so I had an idea of what went into the prep. But my goodness what a process, getting animals ready, travelling, the setting up and waiting around. Here’s a play-by-play of what went down to get ready for the first two weeks in September.
We decided to take two ewe lambs (Deborah and Daisy) and Donald (our best ram lamb) to the Saanich Fair. In July we started halter breaking them for half an hour at a time, three times a week. They calmed down after a week and caught on to walking with us around in a circle.
At the end of August we hand-clipped and washed them.
We put a rubber mat down so the lambs wouldn’t slip on the garage floor. As I started hosing Deborah down with warm water, I couldn’t believe how easily the dirt came out of the wool! After a shampoo and another rinse, I patted her down, wrapped her in a sheet and towels to really get the water out, and finally blow-dried her . Then a coat went on to keep her clean.
We had to have the sheep at the Fair on Friday night, even though we didn’t have a class until Sunday. We were travelling with the Wytink’s, who were also showing at the Fair. They arrived late Friday to load the sheep in the trailer. Another first for the lambs.
Keith went with the trailer and I stayed at the house to bed the rest of the sheep down for the night. I bought supplies early Saturday and arrived at the Fair to see the sheep all settled into their stalls. We created signage and information about each lamb’s pedigree. Brochures and business cards were available to take away.
Saturday’s crowds were huge and there was a lot of interest in all the animals. We had a good time meeting all the other sheep breeders and answering questions about the sheep from the public.
On Sunday we watched all the early sheep classes. Keith and Deborah helped out in the Get of Sire class, which had multiple breeds. Pictured are Southdown sheep from Duncan.
The classes we entered were: Ewe Lamb, Ram Lamb, and Get of Sire (judging the progeny of different sires). We tied the lambs up beside the show ring before the classes. Everybody wants to pet the lambs! They were very patient and quiet. Actually the judge commented that we had very well-mannered animals.
Donald was a good boy during the class and even though we didn’t place, we managed to beat the Wytink’s! We placed third in the Get of Sire (out of 3 groups) and even got a Special Mention ribbon because the organizers knew this was our first show!
We are learning about showing and raising purebred sheep from the best in Canada. Don and Deborah Wytink have been breeding North Country Cheviots for more than 30 years and have scores of Grand Champion ribbons from their years of showing all across Canada and in the US.
After watching the Wytink’s clean up at this show, I joked to Deborah that I was never going to wash my sheep again! Even though it is a recommendation for showing, the Wytink’s rarely wash their sheep. They do look beautiful, nicely clipped and with a natural coat.
We started packing up late in the day and then headed home ahead of the trailer. The lambs were happy to get back to their quiet pastures and we were glad that our first experience showing the sheep went so well.
Next up – the Cowichan Exhibition, September 7 – 9, 2016.