Sticking with the sheep
4-H’er Hadl’s six-year project one of many on display at fairgrounds
This year it will be a little easier for Kari Hadl to part with the sheep she's been raising and caring for the past few months. After all, this marks the sixth time the 4-H'er has entered sheep in the Douglas County Free Fair, the majority of whose activities begins Saturday in Lawrence.
"I like showing them," Hadl said. "I don't like selling them. My first year I bawled."
Since her first year with the sheep, Kari's mother, Pam Hadl, said her daughter had learned plenty about the animals.
"The first year she was only 7," Pam Hadl said. "Each year she just gets a little more (knowledgeable). You just learn a little more."
After six years of sheep, Kari Hadl said for the most part the various animals stuck out as individuals.
"I remember most of them; the ones I beat (others) with or I liked," Hadl said.
One sheep that held a soft spot in her heart was the one with which she beat her older brother in competition, even though she concedes he did a lot of the prep work.
This year's brood, an unnamed Dorset and a crossbred, are pretty mellow compared with some sheep of the past.
"They like to nudge Mom," Kari Hadl said.
"He's lazy, and he's always happy," she added, pointing at the sheep. "They don't like being apart."
Both Pam and Kari Hadl said it wasn't all that unusual for a 4-H'er to stick with one project for six years, but they agreed there were definite benefits to raising sheep rather than other livestock. The steers can be difficult for younger 4-H'ers to handle because of their size, Pam Hadl said.
"I wanted to do that, but she couldn't handle it," she said, teasing her mother.
Several weeks before the fair, Kari Hadl's worry was whether the Dorset and crossbreed would make it to the 90-pound weight requirement, even as the leashed animals nibbled on fescue in the Hadl's yard.
The sheep's feeding has been entirely up to Kari Hadl, although she said during the school year it didn't affect her sleep too much.
"I had to get up at a normal time," she said. "I just had to hurry up and do it fast."
Having raised sheep for six years, Kari Hadl knows the details judges will look for, such as few wrinkles on the animals that have recently been shorn and will be shorn again before the fair.
But the judges she has the most fun with are the preschool-age children who turn the fairground barns into an impromptu petting zoo or the younger Eudora 4-H'ers who visit the animals during a mini-tour of projects.
"It's fun when the little kids come," she said. "This year they have to look at all the other animals."