Several Douglas County youths showed their animals in at the 66th annual Kansas Junior Livestock Show in Wichita.
Between cheerleading, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, soccer and baseball, the Wempes still find time to work with their lambs.
``When we get a spare minute,'' 16-year-old Kristy Wempe said. She and her sister, Kaylee, 14, and her brother, Luke, 10, were among 23 area youths who showed animals at the 66th annual Kansas Junior Livestock Show Sept. 18 through Sept. 21 in Wichita. More than 700 4-H and FFA members entered 1,350 head of livestock. Area children showed sheep, swine and cattle.
``It's fun showing sheep,'' Luke said. ``They're the easiest animals to show.''
``With the pigs, you have to worry about the smell,'' Kristy added. ``The steers weigh twice what you do.''
The Wempes have been showing sheep since Kristy was 7 years old. And that amount of practice makes perfect -- she showed a champion breeding ewe at the livestock show.
``I've been showing there for years,'' Kristy said. ``I was hoping to do really well, but when I won champion I was kind of surprised.''
It used to be that the children were happy to be in the top half of their class, or the top 10. Not anymore.
``They want to be in the top five every time,'' said their father, K.C. Wempe.
The children put a lot of work into their show animals.
``It's kind of a hassle at times,'' Kaylee said. ``Everyday, we go out and work with them so they'll be used to us and work better with us in the ring.''
To get the sheep ready for shows, the Wempes start the night before.
``We do all around the state,'' Kristy said. The family attends about 10 shows a summer, she said.
``The night before the show, we'll be out there washing and shearing the ones we're going to show,'' Kristy said. The sheep's wool is sheared to a 32nd or a 16th of an inch. Then they are covered with blankets to keep them from getting dirty.
Early, around 6 a.m., the sheep are loaded into the trailer and hauled to the show.
``It's pretty stressful at the beginning,'' Kaylee said. ``Once you get in there, you get more relaxed. Most of the time, you just go in the ring and do your best.''
Kristy's champion breeding ewe will be shown in November at the North American International Livestock Show in Louisville, Ky.
Kaylee's two market lambs placed second and third in their classes. Kristy's two market lambs placed second and fourth in their classes, while Luke's two placed in the middle of their classes.
Stuck on swine
Everybody has their favorite animals. The Metskers, David, 15, Marla, 12, and Grant, 8, show swine.
``I like hogs, because we've always raised them,'' Grant said.
``Pigs you don't have to worry about the halter or anything,'' Marla said. ``I just like pigs the most.''
The Metskers start preparing their hogs two to three weeks before a show. They work with them 30 minutes a day, David said.
``We have to walk them, so they're pretty tame in the show ring,'' David said. That can be hard.
``At first it is,'' he said. ``They like to run around. But then they get used to it. If you don't work with them enough, they're pretty ornery.''
To get the hogs ready for the show, the children had to clean them up.
``Most people clip the hair, give them a bath, clean their ears,'' David said.
One of David's hogs placed eighth in its class. Marla had hogs place fourth and 13th, while Grant had pigs place sixth and seventh.
``I was nervous,'' Marla said. ``I just wanted to get a ribbon.''
Catering to cattle
Jackie Polk, 16, likes showing cattle best.
``Cows are just more competitive,'' she said. ``There's more work, but it's fun work.''
Jackie spends up to 45 minutes a day doing chores -- feeding and cleaning her cattle.
``Your supposed to wash them everyday,'' she said. ``On Sundays, we work with them a long time. We spend like all day working with them.''
Jackie also is involved in cross country, track, softball, 4-H and FFA. She had been showing cattle for years and has been to five Junior Livestock shows. This year, she didn't do as well as she would have liked.
``I have a really good heifer, but she didn't do really well,'' Jackie said. The heifer placed third in her class. Her steer didn't do well at all.
``He scared the judge,'' she said. ``He was a little wild. He just took off and I couldn't hold him.
``... It's just how tame you can get them,'' she said ``Sometimes you just get one that you can't do anything with.''
To tame the cattle, Jackie breaks them to a halter and lead.
``It can take a week to two months,'' she said. ``It really depends on the animal.''
That's all done well before the show. To get cattle ready for a show, they have to be washed and blow-dried. They are painted, their hooves trimmed and polished, and their hair sprayed in place. It all takes about an hour and a half.
In the ring, Jackie said, the cattle have to be properly displayed -- their heads high, their feet correctly placed.
``It hurts your arm, 'cause you have to hold their heads really high,'' she said. Despite all that, she likes the competition. The best reason for showing, she said, is simple.
``It's fun to win,'' she said.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.