I took the boys down to their favorite invitational sheep show today. An invitational show is one where the 4-H kids from one county invite all other 4-Hers to come and compete in their show.
This sheep club, like ours, like many across NJ (and perhaps the nation?), is shrinking. Kids are graduating the program but new ones are not coming along with new sheep and new interest. The kids that are left increasingly rely on invitational shows to round out the numbers and provide a good show for everyone involved, including the judge.
I have been trying to figure out why there seem to be so many fewer kids getting involved in livestock. Perhaps it is the recession putting such pressure on families that having a small flock is a luxury that cannot be indulged? With the cost of hay and grain, I can certainly understand this. The stagnant real estate market may also be playing a part. Whatever the cause, I am starting to get worried about our own livestock club. We have no problem attracting kids who want to own chickens and rabbits. But goats and sheep, that is a leap that many are not taking.
Back to the show... It is in deepest south Jersey, almost Delaware actually, but my boys, the sheep, and two extra kids were ready to go at 7:30 am on the dot. They had a great show, and Lambykins actually won Supreme Champion Ewe! Unfortunately I cannot find the camera cable to download the pictures of some very happy boys.