04/19/14 — Getting their goats (ready)

View Archive

Getting their goats (ready)

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on April 19, 2014 10:31 PM

Full Size


Ashlynn Spell, 17, right, secures her goat, George, to a training platform at Rosewood High School Friday. The angled platform is also used to build muscle, one of the areas the goats will be judged on during the upcoming Junior Livestock Show and Sale. Lauren Merritt, 18, and Danielle Fail, 18, watch and give feedback on the goats progress.

George, Daphne and Elvis are getting ready for the show.

They've gotten their hair washed, cut, and whitened and their nails done.

Now, they just need to stop bobbing their heads when they walk.

You know? Goat problems.

Meanwhile, their owners, Lauren Merritt, Danielle Fail and Ashlynn Spell, three seniors from Rosewood High School, are getting ready for the Junior Livestock Show and Sale scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, April 23 and 24.

"The week of the show, we're constantly grooming them," Miss Spell said.

"Our spring break is our goats," Miss Merritt added.

The show and sale is a two-part event.

First, goat and cattle owners, the majority under the age of 18, show their animals by making them hoof it around the arena. In a series of movements and poses, the goats, cows and their masters are judged in a number of criteria -- such as physique and behavior. The handlers also have to know the characteristics of their animal and what kind of feed they used to answer the judges' questions.

Second, the goats and cattle are then sold either to be bred or eaten.

At Rosewood High School, the goats and their masters are preparing for the big event.

"We're never ready," Miss Spell said. "It's like you can never have them ready for it. If the head bobs, that's on us."

Miss Merritt owns Elvis, a wether who likes to run rather than walk -- and Miss Merritt has a lot of work getting rid of all those extra stubborn unwanted goat habits before the big day.

"It's been a long journey," Miss Fail said.

But the haggle is worth it, and each student enjoys showing for different reasons.

Miss Spell likes the individual success of the show.

Miss Fail enjoys watching her animal grow from kid to full-grown goat under her own hand.

And Miss Merritt, "just like animals."

"When (students) play volleyball, I'm out here walking sheep," she said. "It's just something I got into. It's like my sport."

During her freshman year of high school, Miss Merritt showed primarily sheep, but when she got a chance to move into the goat-showing arena, which requires a different handling approach, she decided to take the opportunity.

Through FFA, Miss Merritt was able to acquire a $1,000 grant for the supervised agricultural experience.

She purchased her own goat with the money, and in order to bring her two friends into the mix, she bought their goats to. It also helped that her two friends were involved as officers with FFA.

"I just like showing, but I didn't want to do it alone," Miss Merritt said.

Before they knew it, Miss Fail and Miss Spell were walking their own goats three times a week, preparing feed and training their goats how to stand to show off their musculature.

They even got a little attached to their goats.

It's not typically encouraged to name the goats because of possible attachment, but at the same time, they're ready to sell them. Eating something they personally raised doesn't really phase them.

"Someone's going to eat one," Miss Merritt said.

Sold goats are usually sent to the Mount Olive Livestock Market. From there, the girls won't know where their goats end up.

The Junior Livestock Show and Sale isn't the only place that the girls show their goats.

In the past, the girls have shown the goats at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair, the State Fair and even the Wilson County Fair.

The Junior Livestock Show and Sale, however, will be the last show before the last stop for Elvis, Daphne and George.

The event will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Wayne Regional Fairgrounds.