Bullet shot through the Fort Worth Stock Show’s Class 22 sheep competition Sunday, just like his name.
The nine-month-old lamb was in and out of the arena in a fraction of the time than it took Naomi Romero to wrestle him over there. Initial judging was swift Sunday morning as Bullet and 443 other medium-wool sheep were ushered across the field of grass-green sawdust. Her lamb’s failure to make the first cut didn’t discourage Romero, even though she’d been working with Bullet for six months, teaching him to stand with his front and back feet square and push against her so his muscles would “pop” into good definition.
“I didn’t have huge hopes for him,” said Romero, 18, of Rockwall.
She was counting on Cash and Train — two of the other five sheep she brought to show — to do better in competitions coming up after lunch.
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All breeds included, there were almost 800 entries in the Junior Wether Lamb show, part of the Junior Livestock Show, which continues the rest of this week, said Justin Die, 39, a volunteer announcer who fondly recalls shows that he and his wife, Semira, competed in years ago.
Next door, in the Swine Barn, 4-H and FFA students were putting 63 wether goats through their paces for another judge. In both buildings, families, friends and fans crowded the bleachers and stood three or four rows deep around the judging arenas.
This year’s goat show had 747 entries, said Holly Burke, of Joshua. With wether goats, the competition is “all about the loin,” Burke said.
Graham John of Azle agreed.
“The judge is looking for goats that have power without giving up structural soundness, integrity,” said John. “It’s the length and width of the loin.”
John was at the show to help his brother, Jared, who is a ring steward. Like most others working the show, their involvement grew out of a sense of pride in the way of life and dedication to preserving it.
Die said he announces at five shows each year as a way of “giving back.”
“My wife never made it to the sale, but she worked for four or five years with steers and lambs,” Die said. “Now, she’s a board-certified large animal veterinarian in Navasota.”
Living and working on his family’s cattle ranch in Cleveland, Die and his wife hope their 2-year-old son, Rhys, will catch the passion for the livestock-raising lifestyle.
“I like to walk around and talk with the kids and encourage them,” Die said. “It’s heart-wrenching to put so much work into an animal and not make the sale. I want them to come back next year. When they get to be my age, they’ll realize that what they’re doing now has built a work ethic that will serve them the rest of their lives.”
That philosophy is shared by people such as Rebecca Emery, who said the adults’ efforts are “all for the kids.”
Emery, of Fort Worth, is founder and president of Ladies on the Lamb. She was watching Sunday for this year’s outstanding specimens — the animals on which she and 34 other “business women, entrepreneurs and soccer moms” in the nonprofit group will bid.
“This will be our 16th year to buy lambs,” Emery said. “Last year we spent $85,000 of the total $157,000 bid on lambs.”
The 10 lambs sold at the big auction drew record-breaking bids, Emery said.
“Our purpose is that the kids who raise lambs get more money every year,” she said. “They use it for their educations.”