Caity Garrett enjoys showing her sheep, and encourages others to venture into the showring
ORONOGO, MO. – Caity Garrett got her first lamb when she was only 6 years old. Her uncle Randy Garrett and cousins Alex and Evan had sheep growing up and were incredibly involved in 4-H.
She remembers going to their home for family dinners and always having an interest in their animals. One day her uncle explained how they travel to shows around the state to show the animals and that immediately caught Caity’s attention. She told her mom, Leigh Anne Garrett, showing sounded like fun, and she wanted to do it. Shortly after, they got a lamb from her uncle. She named it Buttercup. Caity discovered more about 4-H and began getting involved. She started going to fairs and showing her sheep. As she became more interested in 4-H, she realized the organization had much more to offer than just showing animals. “You could do arts, crafts, sewing, photography, and grow food. 4-H inspired me a lot to do what I’m doing today. I’ve developed many useful skills through 4-H.”
Caity started with a little animal pen under the trees. Eventually, she began to grow her herd, and her parents built a barn.
“At one point, we had 25 sheep. Right now, we have seven sheep that are registered Hampshire ewes and some crossbreds. Having too many animals was a lot of stress. Going the pace we are now is very nice. It’s a lot calmer, but there is still always something to do.”
She also has two Nigerian Dwarf goats.
Caity feeds her sheep twice a day. They get 2 percent of their body weight per feeding and 4 percent of their body weight each day.
“For the adult ewes, we feed them all stock feed mix with cracked corn along with a quarter of a flake per sheep er day to help them digest. For the lambs, we give them Purina Show Chow with some supplements to help them develop strength and build up thickness and muscle.”
They deworm monthly and vaccinate once a year. She walks her sheep almost every day and works them by leading, bracing and practicing her showmanship. She sells her sheep and goats to individuals online and at the local sale barns and uses the profits from her animal sales and premiums at the shows to buy feed for her animals.
A few weeks before the first show, Caity said they slick sheer the sheep and bathe them to ensure they are moisturized and clean.
“We make sure all their wool is off except on their legs,” she said. “We used to fit them, but keeping wool on their legs really shows off their breed characteristics, makes their legs look thicker and stronger, and is just better overall.”
Caity attends the local and state fairs.
“I like the experiences that it gives me in learning responsibilities and business management,” she explained. “It helps me develop better social skills, which has helped when talking to judges in showmanship. It really shows you how far you’ve come.”
Caity said her parents have always helped and been there for her through the years. Her dad has farmed his whole life, and her mom works in the medical field.
“My dad isn’t huge into showing, but he helps get my confidence back if something goes wrong and always says, ‘Hey, we got this.’ He lifts my spirits and encourages me, is always proud of me, and is incredibly supportive. My mom is constantly out here with me helping clean and feed and is at all my events,” Caity said. “I have never seen a woman work so hard in my life. She’s always supportive, ready to jump in and help as well as encourage me just like my dad.”
Caity said her parents back her financially, help her buy feed when needed, repair things and always take her to shows.
Each year, Caity attends a two-day camp at the Jasper County Fairgrounds hosted by Chastin Leggett, who owns the You Gotta Believe Livestock Camp. Leggett travels all over the country, helping kids learn to show animals, offering encouragement and helpful suggestions for improvement with their livestock.
“He has inspired me as well as so many other kids and is ready to help whenever he can. He hires the best counselors and best show people to help. He has become an extremely close companion of our family. It is amazing to see someone be so excited to help people. He has helped our farm grow and has helped me grow as a person.”
Caity is a sophomore at Carl Junction High School and is the FFA chapter sentinel. For her SAE in FFA she chose entrepreneurship and started a traveling petting zoo called Rubber Duck Ranch.
“We have sheep, goats, miniature pigs, ferrets, chickens, and rabbits. We do church get-togethers, kids’ birthday parties and have attended events such as Food for America. We bring interesting farm animals for the kids that they may not see otherwise.”
Her goals include getting a grand or reserve at the state fair with her sheep and showing at the American Royal before she graduates. “If I win state in showmanship, then I get to be a counselor at Chastin’s camp. I want to be out there to get kids excited and happy about showing.”
“My future career plans are to be an art teacher, but showing animals is extremely fun, and I hope to show at the state fair even when I’m an adult,” Caity said.
“To any kid that has considered showing but has not done it yet, do it. Agriculture is an amazing thing. It’s not just cows and plows. Don’t get discouraged when there are hardships. There are always people who are going to knock you down. It’s part of life. It’s not just constant hard farm work; it’s more than that. It’s hard work, but it’s going to pay off. It gives you so many life experiences that you are going to use in the future. There are so many opportunities, things you can learn, and people you can meet. Keep pushing through, and you’ll be happy you did it.”