MOUNT VERNON — One by one, judge Steve Meyers inspected and compared market lambs, feeling for a good balance between muscle, meat and structural correctness until he found his way to two Ruckmans —cousins John and David.
“It’s a feeling of great accomplishment,” said John Ruckman who showed the Market Lamb Grand Champion. “I hoped for this. I expected top 10; I didn’t expect grand champion.”
John said he worked with Sultan, his Suffolk, since March or April when it was purchased, and spent the last several months preparing for the fair.
“We work them and keep them healthy and regulate their weight. Two or three weeks before the fair you work them like you are in the show ring,” John said.
In his last year of 4-H with the group Llamas R Us, John said he is happy to be going out on top.
“This was a good way to end it,” he said.
David Ruckman, also a member of Llamas R Us, was grinning from ear to ear as he followed in behind John as Reserve Grand Champion.
“I am so happy,” David said. “I did a little better than I thought I would. You always hope for something like this.
As a seasoned showman, David has learned a few life lessons in the ring.
“You never expect to win, but you should always be gunning for it,” David said.
Some competitors throughout the afternoon struggled with keeping their market lambs in check. When a lamb found its freedom in the ring, other contestants managed not only their own lamb, but found a way to lend a helping hand.
“We aren’t just competitors,” John said. “We all help each other out and share tips on how we do certain things. The sheep community is really like a family.”
Jacob Jesse, a member of Eagle View 4-H’ers, was awarded Grand Champion Pen of 3.
Dorinda Jesse, a member of Fredericktown FFA, was awarded Reserve Grand Champion Pen of 3.