Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2001

Animals with attitude

Fair continues with livestock shows

August 2, 2001

Visitors to the Douglas County Fairgrounds might not see much of a difference between the sheep mulling in pen after pen.

To Kalen Wright, 9, her brother Lucas, 11, and friend Katelyn Reese, 11, three of the sheep, at least, have names and personalities worth talking about.

Like proud parents who unfold a wallet of baby pictures, the children turn out lamb stories barely audible above the sheeps' vocal neighbors.

"She was hard to catch when she was little," said Katelyn, looking at one of the penned sheep. Her babysitter is Lucas and Kalen's mother, Kathy Wright.

"We had to corner her between the fence and the hay bale," Kalen said of Frisky, a 90-something pound white Suffolk sheep that outweighs her.

Lucas' sheep, black Suffolks named Miss Vicious and Limpy, earned their names well.

"The first time I led her around she almost made me go to the hospital, or at least she tried," Lucas said of Miss Vicious.

Limpy's name stems from not-so-glamorous origins.

"She had the worst foot rot," Lucas said.

Preparing the sheep for the show involves shearing, which the children leave up to adults. However, Lucas knows how to calm Miss Vicious and Limpy.

"My sheep like music," Lucas said. "It seems to calm them down. All they listen to is country."

Before the sheep can be hauled by trailer to the fairgrounds, they require day-to-day attention that includes mile-long walks and, if necessary, a diet.

When 4-H-ers checked in their livestock July 31, part of the drill included weighing in the animals.

"We want them to even out so they're not too fat and they have muscle on their legs," Kalen said of the animals' ideal weights. "The judges like long loins."

Unlike most parents, the Wright children don't hesitate to pick favorites.

"This is about the smartest batch we've ever had," Lucas said, comparing this year's sheep to the previous two batches. "They weren't smart, and they were lazy."

Lucas' memories of the first sheep he showed, Dr. Thunder, were of trying to get the animal to walk around the ring without using a collar.

"I think Frisky is the best I've ever had," Kalen said.

On Saturday, the children will have the opportunity to auction off the sheep they raised from lambs. Sometimes, making the sale requires a little cajoling, Kathy Wright said.

"They have to make cookies and suck up to get people to buy them," she said.

Although they're tired of sheep and look forward to showing hogs next year, Lucas and Kalen have some qualms about parting with Frisky, Miss Vicious and Limpy.

"It will be sad this year because they're better sheep," Lucas said.

Kalen's efforts strengthened her ties.

"It's going to be hard saying goodbye to Frisky this year because I put a lot of work into her," she said.

Last year, Lucas earned about $350 from his sheep, but the money went straight into the bank until to be used for college or a first car, Kathy Wright said.

"My first car's probably going to be the pick-up we already have," Lucas said, unimpressed.

Kalen didn't see how that was a problem, considering their 4-H plans.

"You'll probably be using it to haul around sheep and hogs," she said

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