Road to the county fair: For Lauridson sisters, 4-H livestock choices are all about size
June 17, 2016
A quaint yellow barn sits in the of the Lauridson's property on the outskirts of Brighton, Colo.
The barn is where Sydnee, 9, and Macey, 13, Lauridson keep the lambs and pigs they plan to show in the Weld County Fair in July. Their mom, Amanda, showed pigs and goats in 4-H and their dad, Justin, showed cattle.
When Macey started showing, she started with pigs. Cattle were too big for her when she was 8 years old, so the family decided lambs would make a good substitute. And even then, the lambs were a bit large for Macey.
Amanda and Justin help Sydnee with her lambs, as she is still small and it's not always easy to set the lamb just right, which is important since showmanship is just as key as the animals in the fair.
"It's a family ordeal with (Sydnee)," Justin said.
Part of the sisters' daily routine is to simply sit in the pens with the lambs and feed them. This way the lambs get used to the girls. It takes time, since lambs are skittish creatures.
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Sydnee walked through the door into the pen of three lambs. Macey simply climbed over the door.
Even while sitting, it's obvious how big of a difference in height a few years can make. The lambs gathered around both girls, but at one point, were able to knock Sydnee off the top of her bucket. Macey didn't waver.
It's Sydnee's first year showing in 4-H, but she has helped Macey with the lambs since age 3. Macey is quicker when she gets her lamb ready to walk around the property. It took Sydnee a little longer, as it's her first year.
"Is this on right?" Sydnee asked her mom after putting the harness on her lamb.
It was, but Sydnee wanted to check. She knows what she's doing, but looks for reassurance.
It's been six years since Sydnee started helping with the lambs, but there was one lamb, Twinkie, that she had a special relationship with.
Sydnee said Twinkie would follow her around and a friendship formed.
Macey knows what it's like to have a lamb like that, and said she knows the point of showing the animals is to ultimately sell them, but it can still be hard.
"You try not to get attached, but they're your buddy," Macey said.
Macey is now at the point where she has to bend when guiding her lambs — she's a bit too tall — but the goal is to guide the lambs by only a touch of the hand to the head. That's why the sisters practice.
But the pigs, while much shorter, are a bit easier to train. Macey got her pig, Ramses, at the Little American Royal Show in Kersey, Colo., on Mother's Day and trained him that day. While not fair ready, Ramses responded quickly to Macey.
The same goes for Sydnee's pig, Nacho. Sydnee doesn't lose much control of Nacho as she guides him around the property. The sisters don't train the pigs as long each day as they do lambs, but they don't need to yet.
For Sydnee, even though it's her first year competing, there's something she looks forward to each year that's not animal-related.
"I just like spending time with my family," she said. ❖
Samantha Fox is a reporter and designer for The Fence Post. "Road to the county fair" is a weekly column series that includes six Weld County 4-H participants as they prepare and compete at the 2016 Weld County Fair. Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her at @FoxonaFarm on Twitter.