Nick Williams shampooed, rinsed and sheared his ewe for the final time Tuesday afternoon in preparation for her first big public appearance this weekend.
“I’m trying to make her look as best as she can to get as much money as I can,” he said with a smile. “Make her look shining.”
Williams, a 16-year-old member of the Lookingglass Livestock 4-H Club, will enter his eighth Douglas County Lamb Show competition Saturday. The show, which includes a barbecued lamb dinner, is marking its 75th anniversary this year.
Williams will join about 200 others bringing lambs to the Douglas County Fairgrounds. The 4-H and FFA members will face off against one another.
The event will feature conformation, showmanship, open class, pen of five and bummer lamb competitions. Also planned are a wool showcase, and lamb cooking and table-setting contests. The day concludes with the barbecued dinner and the auction of the market lambs.
For her third trip to the show, Umpqua resident Megan Baird is taking her Suffolk Hampshire cross.
Megan, 12, has been going to the annual show as long as she can remember. Her older siblings have competed off and on since 1998.
“I’ve been at the lamb show since I was born, basically,” she said.
The member of the 4-H group Me and My Sheeps got the lamb, which she named Dean, in early March. She’s fed him twice a day and worked to build his muscle for the conformation competition.
“Sprinting is probably the best way to get muscle on the sheep,” Megan said.
She plans to put the money earned from selling Dean into savings or toward buying another lamb next year.
Her mother, Nancy Baird, said Megan has learned how to work with the animals and how to keep them calm in competition.
Taking care of the animal has taught Megan responsibility and respect for another living being, Nancy Baird said.
Megan said she plays cards with friends in a tack room when not competing with the lamb during the show.
“It’s always nice to have some downtime after a stressful morning of showing,” she said.
Williams agreed the lamb show is a good opportunity to catch up with 4-H friends.
“I don’t get to see people in 4-H until the lamb show,” he said. “It brings us together; we get to see who is the top dog and I get to compete against them.”
Williams, who also takes care of many other animals with his mom on her 40-acre farm in Lookingglass, begins his typical day at 5 a.m. to feed the lambs and exercise them.
He then heads to Roseburg High School before returning home to take care of the farm in the afternoon.
Saying goodbye to his first sheep, Darth Vader, was challenging because they were best friends. But it has gotten easier in subsequent years, he said.
His mother, Dixie Williams, said her son has learned discipline, husbandry, veterinary skills and compassion. He’s also put in the time and hard work to raise the animals.
“In order for him to get a decent check, he has to turn out a decent project,” she said.
He will clean his lamb’s ears and underbelly Friday night before heading to the fairgrounds.
Community business partners will purchase the lambs at the market auction at the end of the day.
Megan said she will be sad to see her lamb go at the end of the competition.
“He’s my nicest lamb so far,” she said. “He’s sweet and gentle and kind.”
Nancy Baird said if the kids are upset about selling their lambs, she tries to direct their focus to something positive, like plans for the money they’ll earn.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.