On the grounds outside the Brownwood school district’s ag barn, freshman FFA member Marcos Lombrano worked his market lamb — just like he’ll do when he shows the animal next month in the Brown County Youth Fair.
Brownwood ag teacher Chelsea Wilson stood a few feet away, telling Lombrano how to properly show the lamb to showcase its strengths — and hide its weaknesses.
You want to attract the judge’s attention because of the animal’s good points and not because the judge thinks you don’t know how to show it, Wilson explained.
Wilson worked with Lombrano and three other FFA members and their lambs and goats on a warm, sunny afternoon, helping prepare them for the Jan. 8-13 youth fair. She’s been conducting the informal afternoon clinics for any Brownwood students who want her help.
“With lambs and goats, showmanship is so important,” Wilson said. “You can have a really nice animal and not place as high as it is supposed to because you can’t get it shown.”
By observing the animals and talking to their owners, Wilson can tell if an animal’s feed needs to be changed or if the animal is sick.
Another FFA member, sophomore Trinitee Skelton, struggled to get her uncharacteristically skittish lamb to calm down. Skelton and Wilson both said they didn’t know why the usually complaint animal was acting contrary.
“I’m going out to win a buckle. I’m buckle-chasing, yes sir!” Skelton said.
Lombrano said he’s hoping to “win something — win something big” at the fair, acknowledging that is is “a little big nervous” before competing in a show.
Skelton said, “My family learned before shows not to talk to me because I get really stressed.”
But competing in the show ring is fun, the two FFA members said. “It’s like an adrenaline rush,” Skelton said. “Everything around you is just a blur.” When showing an animal, Skelton said, her entire focus is on herself, her animal and the judge.
The youth fair “is just like a big family,” Skelton said.
“We help each other out,” Lombrano said.
Both said they get attached to their animals and love them. “You work really hard with your animal every single day,” Skelton said. “Your animal’s like your best friend.”
When asked if the animals seem to like the humans, Lombrano replied, “Sometimes. Sometimes they hate you.”