Hard work rewarded in ring
An ag teacher's prompting got Eisenhower High School senior Seth Jerez into showing sheep when he was a freshman.
Her name was Alecia Symes, and she's now teaching at Blanchard. Seth, meanwhile, has gone from only three shows that first year, when he began mid-season, to 10 or 11 this year.
"My freshman year I didn't really want to, but now I like it after I did it the first time and I just want to get out and do it again, 'cause I've been showing sheep now for three years. It's a good time, and I enjoy it," he attested.
He admits that when you first get them, sheep are pretty stubborn, but after going to about three shows and working with them, they become a lot easier to handle. He described how, when he braces a lamb, not only is the animal pushing on him but he's pushing on the animal so they don't fall over. It helps the lamb flex its back.
"Whenever you're doing that, it works your legs pretty hard, and you're tired afterwards. So it's a very hard form to do. But after you get it down, it becomes easier and easier," said the 17-year-old exhibitor.
He brought three sheep to the Comanche County Livestock Show to be judged on Wednesday, a 131-pound Hampshire wether, a 139-pound Hampshire ewe and a 144-pound Crossbred wether.
He feeds his lambs twice a day, 12 hours apart, and fluctuates his feed according to his ag teacher's instructions. He also walks them twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This will be Seth's third year to take his animals to the Oklahoma Youth Expo (OYE) in Oklahoma City.
"It's a lot of people. It is so many people. When you get out in the ring, it's just like 40 people all in a circle, and you are just that little person there hoping that that judge picks you and you can stand behind and let it be known that you made the sift. It's just very satisfying. The first year I didn't make it (to the premium sale). The second year I made it with three of mine. And then hopefully this year I'll make the sale."
The first year it's definitely a nerve-wracking experience. But it starts getting easier to go in front of a crowd. Doing it at the county level loosens you up a little bit, he's found.
Responsibility and a work ethic are what he hopes to acquire from showing sheep. Seth is currently the Lawton FFA chapter treasurer. Once he graduates, his plan is to go to Cameron University for the first two years to get his basics out of the way. Then he'll transfer to either Oklahoma State University to continue his studies in agronomy or to the University of Oklahoma to major in architecture. He's been accepted to both schools.
His long-range goal is to learn how to test soils and hay so he can provide that service to farmers in this area. Right now, Stillwater is the closest place to get soil tested, so samples have to be sent off. He believes that by providing tests locally he could shorten the wait time for test results. Seth is the son of Guy and Amanda Jerez.
Elsewhere in the barn, 9-year-old Hunter McElhaney was learning the tricks of the trade with the help of his 12-year-old sister, Audrey. They're the children of Shane and Shawna McElhaney.
"I love to show," Hunter promptly responded when asked if he would be willing to talk about what he brought to the Comanche County Livestock Show. He's in third grade at Elgin Elementary School, and Audrey is in sixth grade at Elgin Middle School. They were wearing matching green tee-shirts Wednesday to show they're both members of Elgin 4-H.
"I've been showing for four years, and he wanted to start, so he started this year," Audrey said.