“The sixth place ribbon is a very pretty shade of pink,” says Elisa.

The girls finished their first sheep show and I actually don’t quite know what to think. I want to love it. As guests in an established world where the rules are all set, we were welcomed and shown as best they could how things are done.

Except I have trouble with rules that don’t make sense.

Our Hampshires were clean but not as bright white as they could have been. When I read the ingredients on the soap that everyone uses, I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. Harriet and Elisa are used to me by now and wouldn’t expect anything else.  Also no hair spray, no antibiotics, or hormones in the feed. Our sheep can survive just fine on pasture.  We aren’t playing in the same ball park. The other sheep had the most beautiful wool. The winners were brushed to perfection. The teenagers have practiced for years and spend hours fitting one sheep. The purpose is to create the illusion of more meat.

Across the barn from us I saw a pen door get knocked wide open and the market lambs inside just stood there like dopes making no move toward freedom. It was freakishly unnatural. I found myself looking over at our sweet ewe munching on her hay with affection.  I love that she had twin lambs during the coldest month of the year without any trouble and that they grew fast because she had so much milk. She hasn’t been sick a day in her life and doesn’t eat us out of house and home. She is pretty calm but will shake her head at you if you bother her babies. None of that is important in a show ring.

The girls and I were taking in the surroundings as if we had been dropped off in a foreign country and we’ve come up with some strategies for what we would do differently next year. They are thinking wool breeds are their only chance and even  better,  a wool breed no one else has. Because Harriet and Elisa do want to win.