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Lambs win hearts

Exhibitors keep their emotions in check at show

Exhibitors keep their emotions in check at show

August 08, 2002|by Liz Boch

lizb@herald-mail.com

Justin Frey cried the first time he showed a lamb at the Washington County Ag Expo.

When a buyer loaded "Bobo" onto a truck headed to the slaughterhouse the evening of the Ag Expo sale 11 years ago, that was the last time Frey saw his pet.

"He followed me around the yard everywhere, just like a dog," the 17-year-old said. "I could lay on him, sleep on him."

The Williamsport resident said he came to a realization that night.

"I learned a lesson in life," he said. "Things come and things go."

Frey was among those who entered their lambs in the 4-H/FFA Market Lamb show at the Ag Expo Wednesday.

According to Justin, desensitization requires maturity and years of showing the animals, but to others, numbness demands the right chromosomes.

Amanda Frey, 22, of Williamsport, said female handlers cry more easily then male lamb handlers.

"You very rarely see a boy cry," she said. "If they are upset they hide it really well."

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Frey said she always cried until she stopped showing lambs last year.

"When I was in 4-H, I'd cry and cry and cry every time," she said. "I even cried over a pig once."

Lamb handler Matt Alley, 16, of Sharpsburg said young men do not choke up because they raise lambs for the competition, not for the attachment.

"I always know there's more next year, so letting go isn't really that hard because I know I'll get another," he said. "Last year was my first year and I knew he was going to die. As long as it's not being wasted, I'm fine with that."

Smithsburg resident Timothy Frey, 10, agreed with Alley and said he prepares himself for the sale of his lambs.

"My sister had rabbits and when they died, I learned that is what happens," he said. "I'm used to getting rid of my animals."

According to Amanda, Timothy remains unshaken by the loss of his stock because he has grown up around six cousins and a sister who all show market lambs.

She recalled "Piglet," her white Dorset breed lamb, that she sold when she was 17. She said getting new lambs the next year didn't help her.

"They each have their own personalities," she said. "I remember going to the ring and saw the people and started crying. My dad told me the more I cried the more money I'd make because people would feel sorry for me."

Justin and Alley agreed that calling the animals by their ear tag number instead of naming them helps keep distance between them and their lambs.

"Once you name them, they're like pets," Justin said.

Amanda said that since leaving the show ring, she has become a support system for her cousins Rhonda and Katie, who still raise lambs for exhibition and, eventually, sale.

"Now, I'm the shoulder to cry on for my cousins," she said. "I'm waiting right there at the ring for them when it's over."

The grand champion market lamb was raised by Justin Frey. The reserve champion market lamb was shown by Matt Alley.

The Ag Expo will run until Aug. 9 at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center off Sharpsburg Pike, 11 miles south of Hagerstown.

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