While most Jan. 9 activities at the National Western Stock Show focused on setting up for coming events, the Younger family came from Elbert County to the arena to observe the wool judging.
The family started with four lambs and now their herd has grown to 13 animals. The sheep grow rapidly and usually by the time they are a year old, they are old enough to be sheared.
Mady, 12, said the family began raising sheep at her request.
“We have horses and dogs so I thought sheep would be fun as pets,” the girl said. “I like our sheep and soon, I am going into 4H where I can learn more about raising the sheep.”
Mady’s older brother Matthew said last year, they hired a man to shear their sheep.
“The wool from our sheep is nice and I am using it as I am learning to hand spin the wool into yarn,” Holly Younger said. “We came today to watch the judging and to learn all we can about what it takes to raise sheep that provide prize-winning wool. … We are raising some registered sheep, we want to win some wool prizes and maybe we can have them sheared and sell the wool to hand spinners.”
The wool judging is among a handful of events that got started before the National Western Stock Show officially began Jan. 11. In another part of the National Western complex, owners were moving cattle into the stalls and preparing them to be shown.
The hum of clippers and the whine of hairdryers blends in with the mooing of the cattle in the stalls.
The cattle judging is done by breeds. On Jan. 9, many owners had Angus cattle in the stalls. When the shows are over for one breed, those cattle are moved out and cattle of another breed take their place.
Sean Witherspoon from Delta led one Angus cow to the wash area identified as the “Bovine Beauty Shop.”
“We will scrub this cow down then move back to the stall and blow-dry it,” he said. “Then, we will begin to clip and trim it to get ready for the show ring.”
The National Western is known as the Super Bowl of Livestock Shows. More than 15,000 animals will pass through the show between Jan. 11 and 26.
In addition to the livestock shows and sales, there are special events such as rodeos and horse shows.
For more information and a schedule of events, go to www.nationalwestern.com.