Today we are doing something a little different here at COUNTRY LINKed. Today we have a guest on our blog, Laura, a young woman who shared her 4-H sheep story with me and I in turn want to share it with you. Here is the story of Laura and her lambs:
Like many kids in her local community, Laura was more than ready to start her 4-H career at the age of eight. “My first lamb was named Willie the Weather and I could not wait to be eight so that I could start showing sheep,” says Laura. From 1998 to 2013, Laura has exhibited, shown and sold sheep at her local country fair as a 4-H and FFA member.
Her family was already raising Suffolk sheep, so it was a natural fit for her to begin raising some of her own and following in her dad’s footsteps as a showmen. “Right off I learned responsibility and hard work from taking care of my animals from the time they were babies up until it was show time. I have learned what is best for my animals in order to get them looking their best at all times.”
“My biggest supporters have been my parents by far. No matter what they were always there to help with whatever questions I had or tasks I needed help with. It is always an awesome feeling to look in the crowd at a show and see my parents and grandma cheering me on. Also, I could not ask for a better show partner than my sister, Maggie. She does a lot as well. We always have a great time in and out of the show ring.”
Like most who choose to show livestock, Laura has a memory that she will never forget regarding her sheep and wanted to share it. “In August of 2010 we had everything loaded and ready to go to the Missouri State Fair for 5 days. Which is a farm kids vacation if you ask me! It is probably the show that I like attending the most, because there is lots of competition and you get to see exactly where your animals stand against others from all over the state. It had been really hot all day as we were getting loaded, however it cooled off right before we loaded the sheep. We thought this is great, so off we headed. The closer to Sedalia that we got the hotter it got. We got behind a slow-moving spray coop along the way and ran into some traffic in Sedalia. As we pulled up to the Sheep barn at the fairgrounds, the state vets were right there checking in sheep as they came off of trailers. Sheep don’t handle heat very well and my sister got out of the truck real quick so we could start checking the sheep in and Mom, Dad and I were right behind her. She opened the trailer gate and got in, but came right back out crying hysterically! We didn’t know why, just that and she kept saying “They’re Dead, They’re Dead!”. Then we saw what it was. Two of our ewe lambs, out of five in the trailer, were dead. The vets jumped in and took pulses and tried to see if there was a way to save them, but there wasn’t. Two of the best ewe lambs we had ever had were dead. My whole family and I were crying by then and we didn’t know what to do. Many other people who were around, helped us get the others off the trailer and all of our tack and stuff unloaded too. All my sister and I wanted to do was go home! It was the worst feeling ever. We were very attached to “Peach and Pear” (the names of the ewe lambs), but Dad told us as we all held each other in a hug that we couldn’t go home because it was so hot, and that it could kill the others if we did. The vets at the Missouri State Fair that were there for us were so kind and helpful. Many sad tears were shed that year but it brought our family even closer than what we are, if that is possible.”
This experience did not stop Laura from showing and she encourages others to start showing as well, “Through my years of showing I have learned so many things! It is such a great way to grow and become a very honest, hard-working, responsible young person. I know that I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the sheep industry, 4-H and FFA.”
This summer marked the final county fair for Laura as a youth exhibitor, because of this, she decided to support a fellow 4-H family by donating the proceeds from the sale of her market lamb to them to help with medical expenses they are facing. “I chose this family to receive the proceeds from the sale of my final lamb because there is no doubt in my mind that Keith would have done the same thing for us.”
Here is the speech Laura gave before the selling of her lamb, “Hi! My name is Laura. For 13 years I have been lucky enough to sell a lamb in this premium sale, so I would like to thank everyone who bought my lambs or bid on my lambs. I have done lots of things with my money through the years. I have saved it, bought a car with it, and if you know me very well you know I have bought a few clothes with it, helped pay feed bills with it, and paid for some of my college with it. So here I am 21 years old and my car is paid for, I just graduated from college, Maggie says under no circumstances can I buy more clothes, and Dad you can handle the feed bill right? So that’s why I have decided to give 100% of my premium sale money this year to Keith and his family. I can’t remember a time that Keith hasn’t been willing to do and give to many of us. So lets join together and give back to Keith! Thank you!”
In all Laura was able to raise $5900 in one evening for this family. Keith has been through a lot in regard to his health. Thankfully he is now again at home and able to walk on his own. Huge progress has been made and for that, both families are very thankful!
Now that her showing days at the county fair are over, Laura has plans for a full and happy life close to family and the farm. “I now have a full-time job and I enjoy it a lot! I still live on the farm and help each and every day with chores. I hope to some day get married and have kids and raise them on or near the farm so they can be taught the same qualities I was taught. I truly believe there is no place like home and I am proud to say that I live in North Central Missouri!”
Thank you Laura for sharing your story with me and allowing me to share it with others. Your dedication, hard work, compassion and heart all played a part in your sheep showing experience and really showed through on the night of the sale. Best of luck to you as you begin a new chapter of your life.
Blessings to you and to Keith and his family,
Laurie – Country Link