Teenage girls often spend hours preening and primping in the mirror. But 13-year-old Rebecca Jones of White City spends more time in the barn tending goats than inside the house.
She and older brother Daniel, 18, maintain and breed their own goat herd. The smaller animals are just the right size for Rebecca, a petite animal lover and four-year veteran of goat shows.
“Most kids my age are indoors playing video games, but it would be better for them to be outside, working with animals and getting exercise,” Rebecca said. “It’s just better than sitting on the couch.”
The siblings use their own money to improve herd genetics and have learned proper animal care and farm management skills from raising goats. Now a high school graduate, Daniel plans to make a living on the family farm.
“I like to farm,” he said. “I hope events like goat shows get more young people interested in showing and farming period. There aren’t that many young folks picking up farming anymore.”
Through shows, the Jones siblings have developed friendships with other students, including D.J. Phillips, 18, of Pell City.
“I enjoy the competitions, but I most enjoy being around others who share a similar interest,” D.J. said. “Most of us here are at the same events throughout the year, and it’s like our own little family.”
Daniel and D.J. took home Class 5 first place and runner-up showmanship honors, respectively, at the inaugural Kick-Off Classic Meat Goat Show at the Farm, Home and Wildlife Expo in Thorsby in August. State Meat Goat and Sheep Committee member and Jemison High School FFA teacher Clay Mims organized the event to give exhibitors more experience before the fall show season.
Mims said goat shows are great places for children to gain showmanship experience, and the cost is relatively low.
“With goat shows, even 5-year- olds can participate,” Mims said. “They learn the fundamentals, like what do in the show ring and how to talk to judges and the public about their animals. They may later transition to showing cattle or continue to show goats and cattle. Most importantly, they learn the responsibility of caring for an animal.”
The Alabama Meat Goat & Sheep Producers checkoff helped sponsor the event. Sponsorship applications for 2014 shows are due Dec. 1, and funding is disbursed as a refund.