It’s that time of year again. Everyone is washing sheep blankets, packing trailers, fitting sheep, planning meals, and gathering “show” clothes. Some might call livestock people crazy, after all….who goes to Louisville, Kentucky in November and calls it a “vacation”? People who own livestock! I know you think we’re insane but it really is a sort of vacation to those of us who truly love raising and showing livestock.
It’s a time to reconnect with friends from across the country that you may see once or twice a year. It’s a time to make new friends in the livestock industry, meet new people, and most importantly evaluate top quality livestock from across the country. No I’m not a judge this year at NAILE (maybe one day!), but we all get the chance to evaluate livestock from California to Maine at this particular show. Maybe you need a break from fitting sheep, maybe you need some quiet time to yourself (minus all the livestock noises…baaa, mooo, etc.), or maybe you just like to sit at the side of the ring and place the classes along with the judge. This is one of my favorite things to do at NAILE. Yes I’m a livestock judging nerd, but it truly is a good time! Future livestock judgers: you can learn A LOT by listening to these men and women, take your Steno and hang out ringside, you’ll see what I mean.
If you’re like most livestock enthusiasts you also go to NAILE to explore the gigantic trade show! Surely you can find room in the truck for one more pair of boots? A new fitting stand? Oooh, what about a new set of clippers?? If you’ve been there you know what I mean. Trade show exploration takes multiple days, and if you’re looking for someone that isn’t in the barn, chances are they are in the Country Store!
I can’t wait to pack up the car Thursday and head north! The sheep are traveling with Doug and Travis early that morning, but the rest of us are coming up either after work, or in my case after an awards banquet on Thursday night. Either way we will all be in Louisville at least by Friday morning (even if me and M get there quite early). The weekend will fly by quickly for C & M as they participate in all things Southdown, showmanship, skillathon, etc. The rest of us will be busy fitting, clipping, and helping the girls get ready to walk on the green shavings with their sheep. If we are lucky they will get to stay out there for a while as the judge selects the higher placings, even if they are only out there for a few minutes it still means a lot to be able to show at NAILE. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication, hard work, and time to make it this far, and we are grateful to be able to participate. Either way, we will still enjoy seeing all of our friends, going to sales, exploring the Country Store, and of course making memories with our sheep family!
Time to go switch laundry and get to sleep! We will see you in Louisville this weekend! If you’re walking around the sheep barn look for our pens and stop by for a visit. There’s always an open chair to kick back in!
– Doug & Jessy Shanks