I am very happy to be writing the Junior ARBA article this month as it is the last time I will be able to call myself a junior member. The Romney Junior show at NAILE will be my last junior show ever. This has made me reflect on how 10 years ago I was a young 4-Her who loved her sheep and couldn’t imagine winning her county fair, let alone attending the biggest sheep showing event of the year. My purebred sheep journey started in April 2008 when I decided to buy two white Romney ewe lambs from Little Hooves. It was one of the best choices I could have made. Charlene and Kenny have encouraged me since day one to go to all the shows I possibly could and even trailered sheep for me when my trailer was not trustworthy enough for the longer trips. They sold me the finest quality ewes that had stellar conformation and gorgeous fleeces. For the first few years I was terrified to do much fitting on my show sheep, as I did not want to mess up their beautiful wool. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have another Romney veteran show me the ropes on fitting. Ed Julian took time at every show he attended to come demonstrate and give me pointers on how to improve my fitting style. Today when I am at shows, I tell my mom I will be done when the animal is up to the “Ed Julian standard” of fitting.
Once I was able to have some level of competency at fitting, my next step was to fix my feeding regimen. I also have Cotswolds and they tend to grow very quick on little to no feed while my Romneys looked like they needed an extra push to reach the level I wanted them at. Yet another long-time Romney breeder helped me out with this issue. Graeme Stewart took time out of his day and talked to me about the proper protein percentages in feed and how to supplement my animals’ diet. It took a bit of time to find the correct combinations that work for my mixed flock, but because of him I can now finally say I am happy with the level of conditioning my Romneys have in the show ring.
We all work hard for the successes in life that we achieve. However, we cannot forget that we did not get to where we are alone, but through the guidance we received from those more experienced than us along the way. I can honestly say that without the wisdom imparted on me by these Romney all-stars, I would never have reached the level of proficiency I am at today. Although my journey as a junior member is done, I plan to continue my efforts to improve my flock and continue to learn as much as I can so that one day I can help young Romney herdsmen as I was helped for the past decade. Thank you, Romney mentors. I would not be here without you.