More than Showing Livestock…It’s Family

In the livestock show world, family is a big deal. They are your cheerleaders, and greatest critic. They back the trailers, feed you between classes, hold you during disappointment, and celebrate with you through wins. In short, showing livestock is a family endeavor. However, the cool thing about that family, is it is often much larger than the one you were born with.

This is a story of more than one family, but in reality, they seem more like one big family. It’s the story of two girls. Two families. And yet, sheep and one dream turned them into one family.

Meet Alyson Moore:

She has been showing with her family since she was four years old. She has now aged out of showing, attended college, and is currently a Regulatory Specialist for Syngenta Crop Protection and manages her own photography and marketing business. Throughout her show career, she showed all species and won champion titles at the N.C. State Fair. She continues to raise show lambs and attend various shows.

Alyson, her brother, dad, and mom during a past NC State Fair

Meet Audrey Glass:

She has been showing for a decade. She and her four sisters show goats and lambs. She has been in Iowa this summer for a crop production service internship. This fall she will attend N.C. State University for Ag Business. Although she has aged out of showing wethers, she will show ewes this year at in te fair’s livestock shows. Last year, she took away the title of Grand Champion Market Lamb and N.C. Born and Bred Market Lamb.

Audrey and Vaquero

A few years ago, Audrey met the Moore family at the N.C. State Fair. Since then, they have become a huge part of her life, especially Mr. Doug and Mrs. Lee.

“I go over there and stay more than I stayed at my own house. They’ve become like grandparents to me,” said Audrey, “Mr. Doug especially, has become a mentor as far as my faith, and we can sit and talk for hours about anything. It’s more than showing livestock with them. It’s like family.”

Audrey, Alyson, Mr. Doug and other showman during a circuit show. Competitors become friends and family in livestock.

The Moore family started raising lambs a few years after Alyson’s first show. Although, their original goal was just to raise sheep for Alyson to show, they soon began traveling to farms and sales across the country purchasing ewes to show and bring home to breed. Their quality began to improve and by the early 2000’s, they were selling lambs to 4-H and FFA students across the state.

“My Dad and I worked hard to develop relationships with top producers across the country, and because of those, we introduced more elite genetics and our goals shifted from producing solid county fair quality lambs to those that could be competitive in any state,” said Alyson.

Although, raising sheep has evolved for the Moores, it being a family effort has not. Mr. Doug managed the flock and is the brains behind feeding the show lambs. Over the years, he has spent a lot of time talking to producers and learning. Growing up, Alyson and her dad  made all of the purchasing and breeding decisions together. Today, Alyson still helps with flock decisions, marketing, and managing social media. Mrs. Lee is the moral support, lambing assistant, and prayer warrior for them all.

“This has without a doubt been a family effort from day one. And, when I reference family, I mean the kids and parents that show with us too. From lambing until the last show of the year, it takes a team and a lot of laughter,” said Alyson.

Audrey was one of those kids that entered the Moore family. She knows that she can go over there anytime, have a good time working sheep, and they may just go to their favorite Mexican restaurant afterwards.

After 10 years of showing, Audrey was able to see her first lamb born at the Moores in 2017. The Moores have allowed her to learn and truly get involved. They’ve also been a mentor, even when they may not realize they are being watched.

“I love watching Mr Doug when those sheep are hurt or the way he talks to them… I could listen to that all day. He talks to them like they’re people. It’s cool to watch him be so gentle with them. He is truly a shepherd,” said Audrey.

Mr. Doug

It isn’t always easy, though. Alyson and Audrey both talked about how hard the 2017 breeding season was.

“Our 2017 lamb crop was about 2-3 months later than what it typically would be because of some breeding issues,” explained Alyson.

Even with, the issues, Audrey chose her lamb for the fall circuit and N.C. State Fair. She named him Vaquero, which was Spanish for cowboy. She wasn’t quite sure why she chose him, but it just felt right.

The late lambs resulted in some smaller-sized lambs for the fall shows. In the circuit shows, Audrey and Vaquero were almost always in the lightest weight class. Vaquero just couldn’t compete with the larger ones. He was a good lamb, but just not large enough to be considered for grand champion.

“I would have some bad circuit shows and get down a little bit, and Mr Doug would remind me that his time is coming, his time is coming,” said Audrey.

Little did they know how true Mr. Doug’s words would be. The Moores, Audrey, her family, and Vaquero showed up to the N.C. State Fair filled with anticipation. Vaquero had grown. He still wasn’t the biggest, but Alyson knew that he was one of the most complete and best handling lambs she and her dad had ever raised. Alyson also knew that Audrey had improved as a showman. She knew the team would have a good day, but didn’t know just how good.

The prayer was that the judge saw what they saw in Vaquero, and if the judge didn’t, that they would have peace about it.

Audrey was nervous going into the show, but ended up winning middle weight. Was it too much to hope that they had a chance to win Grand Champion overall?

When it was time for final drive, everyone was nervous. Alyson’s boyfriend, Tom Devine, was fixing Vaquero’s legs one more time before going into the ring. He looked up, and Audrey expected a pep talk, instead he says, “I’ve never been so nervous for a drive in my entire life.” Now Audrey was truly nervous.

The next few minutes were a blur filled with emotion. Vaquero’s time had come. The judge saw what the whole family had. Audrey and Vaquero were awarded Grand Champion Market Lamb, AND because Vaquero was born and raised on the Moore’s farm, a NC farm, he was also named Got to Be NC Market Lamb.

When Audrey exited the ring, the first person she wanted to hug was Mr. Doug, but he wasn’t to be found. She found out later that he had gone behind the barn to cry. Audrey was greeted by her sisters and mom who jumped on her. Her dad lost it and soon they were all in tears.

“Seeing everyone get so excited for me like that, I just know that it is a whole team thing and it was win for everyone,” said Audrey.

Alyson had won Grand Market Lamb at State Fair before. She actually won it in 2008, 2009, and 2010, but it didn’t compare to having a lamb raised on your farm win.

“Those were awesome moments, of course, but we didn’t raise those lambs. It’s hard to explain the fulfillment and joy in knowing you made the breeding decisions, raised, and fed the one that had what it take to get the job done. It was the best feeling to watch all of that come together for my Dad and Audrey,” said Alyson.

Mr. Doug and Audrey

This win was special for so many reasons: Audrey was supposed to attend Oklahoma to be on a judging team, but decided last minute that God wanted her to stay home. She ended up going to Pitt Community college for basic classes. This allowed her to show Vaquero and work with the Moores. After years of showing and raising sheep, the Moores finally raised a champion—on the NC State Fair’s 150th anniversary at that. Vaquero had a rough start, but pushed threw and grew into that champion.

Perhaps, though the most special thing was family.

Audrey put it best when she said, “Honestly, it was all great. What meant the most to me was being able to go through all that with my family and everybody–Mr Doug, and Marley (Marley is a close friend of Audrey’s who ended up winning 3rd overall in sheep), and Alyson, and Tom.”

Audrey hugs Marley after winning champion.

It has and always will be about the people and family that livestock develops.

And now? Now, they are all still close. They are all still proud. They are all still working hard. Mr. Doug consolidated his flock after the fair to a smaller group of ewes and partnered on a new ram which they are excited about. Alyson and Tom Devine (Devine Livestock) acquired several of Mr. Doug’s ewes. They hope to continue the success he has had. However, despite Mr. Doug insisting on making his flock smaller, he recently purchased just as many as he let go.

“If you ever hear him talking about retiring, don’t believe it,” said Alyson.

Audrey will start classes at N.C. State soon, and now passes her skills and knowledge to younger showman.

Although, the 2017 N.C. State Fair has come and gone, and everyone is preparing for the 2018 fair, the emotions are still fresh.

“After all the hard work, it paid off. I just feel so blessed after that. That’s the show God wanted me to win. I’m still excited about this. We still tear up, and I can’t wait to tell my kids about it,” said Audrey.

It’s more than showing livestock…it’s family.

 

 

 

 

About Marisa Linton See

Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock in NC. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 15 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

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