For one of Doneta and Aaron Kaeck’s three children, winning isn’t everything but working to beat your older brother is the only thing.
While 14-year-old Josee says she would like to win with the best lamb during the Auglaize County Sheep Show, the best thing that could happen to her during the event would be to beat her 17-year-old brother, Jordan.
“I try to help her,” Jordan said before Josee interjects with a teasing air, “I don’t like him to and he’ll say I think I know it all. Really I just like showing my brother up.”
Despite the comment, Josee brings water and feed for her two lambs in her pen as well as Jordan’s lambs in his pen next to hers. He is a member of the Wapakoneta FFA, while she is a member of Waynesfield All-Around Livestock.
They then start a verbal challenge to each other — one brewing for years and already extending into the next year. While Josee has already shown her two ewes, Jordan, who has shown his ewe, prepares to show his wether.
“Next year we are bringing breeder sheep and I will win,” Jordan said, issuing the challenge to his sister.
“Next year we all will be entering the open show and then we will see who is better,” Josee said, referring to Jordan and their older sister, Chelsea, and then pointing to herself.
The competition between the Kaecks starts months earlier when they pick out lambs from their parent’s operation in February to show at the Auglaize County Fair. Their lambs are born and raised in Auglaize County.
“I just pick out the one I believe will do well at the fair,” Jordan said. “I look at how well I think they will fill out. This one was big in the front shoulders and the rump so I picked him and then I would let my sister pick the next best one — next year she gets to pick first.
“You just hope they develop the way you think they will from when you pick them in February to the end of July,” he said. “He still has some big shoulders and nice ribs, but I’ve looked around and there are some really good lambs here. You just look for which lamb will have good meat quality in the end.”
While the competitive blood still flows between the two, another tradition has stopped. Jordan and Josee do not name their lambs anymore as they did before with their sister, Chelsea’s lambs.
“We figured out they die at the end of the fair,” Josee said, “so we stopped naming them because we became too attached to them. It was a few years ago that we figured out where our older sister Chelsea’s lambs were going after the fair when we watched them get loaded on a truck.”
The pair said that the first time they realized where the lambs were going they had a hard time eating meat for the next month.
The siblings’ competitive fires do not end at the show ring.
They also compete athletically with Jordan, who will be a senior at Wapakoneta High School, hitting the diamond as a second baseman on the varsity baseball team, while Josee, who will be attending the school but is in the eighth-grade, can be found on the softball diamond.
Jordan also wrestles during the winter, while Josee plays soccer on the pitch during the fall.
Down from the Kaecks, Kaylee Katterhenry moves quickly to place a cover on one lamb she just showed and prepares her other lamb with a walking bridle.
The 13-year-old Memorial Middle School student is just in her second year and already has placed first in one class and shows another who places second. This year she brought Cooper and Chubs.
The daughter of Mindi Pond and Nick Katterhenry developed the desire to show by attending the fair and watching her friends.
“I always was at the fair and I just decided I wanted to start showing sheep because my friends showed them,” Kaylee said. “Ali Muir and Caitlyn Schaub showed so I wanted to try and show them, too.”
She was already at the fair showing horses and cattle, so adding another animal and another ring came naturally. Having shown the two large animals helps in knowing what the judges want with the smaller lambs.
“I like to show lambs and how well you do really depends on how you present the lamb,” Kaylee said. “Prior to the fair, we run them a lot to get their muscle mass up and we work with them and walk with them a lot so they are comfortable and do well in the ring.”
When she picks her lambs, she looks for muscle, a wide front and hindquarters and leg hair. After months of training, she brings them to the show ring and then cherishes the experience.
“I just like knowing my hard work pays off in the end,” Kaylee said.
She then rushes off to show her next lamb.
For 12-year-old Erin Scott, the fair experience already paid off prior to showing her two wethers. She had the top Rate of Gain lamb when here lamb gained 69 pounds from the first weigh-in, going from 66 pounds to 135 pounds.
The daughter of Beth and Kevin Scott shows her lambs with the two daughters of Heather and Nate Jurosic. They actually keep the lambs at the Jurosic’s farm and make the trip twice a day to feed and work with the lambs in the morning and the evening.
Erin said the trips start about a week before the end of the school year and continue up until the fair.
In the show ring, the New Knoxville Middle School student has some tricks of her own.
“I rub their necks and I just talk to them to calm them down,” Erin said. “Every once in a while I pick them up or raise them up just a little bit so I can reset their feet and then I brace them as I go down. It forms kind of a triangle so they look good.”
She said it depends on the judge how high you can pick them up.
The exhibitors also check the lambs feet and keep the back straight as the judge walks by.
In the end, Erin has one goal in mind and other objectives she likes to meet.
“I really like showing lambs at the fair because they are fun and I like winning,” Erin said. “I also like the friendships you make during the fair and just being able to run around and have fun.”