Lindsey Coddington, 15, stood with sheep Bert and Ernie that she will show at the Marquette County Fair and will be in the Youth Animal Meat Auction on Friday at 7 PM. Lindsey will also be showing them at the Wisconsin State Fair. With her are dad Brian, mom Mary and brother Eric, 17. (Photo by Kathleen McGwin)
There’s no baaaaaaaad time for Lindsey Coddington when she shows sheep
“Sheep are right up there,” bright-eyed Lindsey Coddington answered when asked what of her many activities were her favorites. The sophomore at Montello High School will show Bert and Ernie at the Marquette County Fair this year and then take them on to more competitions. This is her fifth fair showing sheep.
Brian and Mary Coddington own Peppermill Farm where their spot-irrigated corn and soybeans look like fields of emeralds in this dry, drought year. They’ve raised three children, all involved in the County Fair and showing animals, on the Coddington family farm started by Brian’s parents Mel and Lois. The farm was once owned by John Williams, owner of Lakeview Farms, and Brian pointed out the trees in the front yard where countless field workers ate their lunch in the shade, taking a break from picking in the fields.
Heritage and farming roots go deep. You can see this when 17-year-old Eric says he plans to be a farmer and all three of the Coddington children, Lindsey, Eric, and Matt, 21, joined Cloverbuds, the prelude to 4H, then went on to participate in numerous projects 4H projects including raising animals over the years.
Lindsey, who belongs to Badger 4H out of Montello, started in beef, but switched to sheep.
“My brothers had pigs and beef,” she said, “but I found sheep to be just the right size and easy to handle.”
Her first lamb came from the Marzahl family, but now she buys two sheep each year from various farms, learning about them at shows she and her mom and dad attend. With dad’s help, she purchases the lambs and then her real responsibilities begin. In fact, Lindsey said one of the most important things she’s learned raising her sheep is responsibility.
“I go out every morning and night to water and feed,” she explained. “Then I clean the pens once a week. Even if you don’t want to, you have to get up and do it.”
She walks them every day for exercise, rough shears them in May and shears close before each show. Judges look for muscle, a strong, long body, a big loin area and if the sheep stand well on their feet, she said. This year she has a Suffolk and a Hampshire and in past years she has shown crossbreeds.
“They have to get used to you touching them and you push on them with your leg so they push back and make their muscle flex,” she said.
This year’s sheep Bert and Ernie will be in the ring at the Marquette County Fair with Lindsey and will be in the Youth Animal Meat Auction at 7 PM on Friday. Dad Brian explained that most animals are bought on support with the animal staying with the youth and the buyer paying the auction price minus the market price of the animal.
“If they are bought for meat, usually the buyer will let delivery be after the animal is shown by the youth in other shows,” he said.
The sleek sheep have already been at the Wisconsin Livestock Breeders Spring Preview and Lindsey will be taking them to the Wisconsin State Fair. Brother Eric will show beef and dad Brian will be along for support. She’s shown sheep at the State Fair for the past four years. The family stays Monday through Thursday in the dorms. Lindsey has earned two blue ribbons and has always placed in the top 10 in showmanship.
“Any time you can place, it’s an achievement,” said mom Mary. “The State Fair is highly competitive.”
It takes skill to show animals and diligence to raise them to their prime. Weighing them is important to be sure they are being fed right. Then there’s the confidence that grows from being in the ring every year.
“Each time I go in,” Lindsey said, “I feel a little more confident.”
She should because she has a lot of practice with competition and not just in the show ring. Lindsey will be entering about 20 items in the fair and she also will compete in dog obedience. She has entries in cooking, sewing and photography, something she’s considering pursuing after high school. At school she participates in band—playing flute—as well as in choir, student council, volleyball and track.
But her sheep rank right up on the top in her favorite activities. The whole family has learned about them through Lindsey’s projects, finding them “very entertaining.”
It’s easy to see that the Coddingtons enjoy working together and Brian and Mary are proud of their children whether it’s raising sheep or crops or playing sports.
“Both Eric and Lindsey are maintaining 4.0 grade points in school,” said Brian. “I know maybe I brag too much, but I can’t help myself, I’m so proud.”