Wringing out the icy cold towels I lay it across the lambs back. He tries to shake it loose and I catch it just in time before it hits the ground. Ashley is holding the cool towel on the other lamb with one hand watching the class in the arena.
I just keep fussing offering the lamb a drink of water it just turns it's head away. The sun beats down relentlessly hot I can feel the sweat dripping down the middle of my back.
Suddenly the crowd cheers and I look up to see the judge shaking hands with the winner of that class. Parents crowd around the arena gate as the other 4-her's slowly make their way out the gate. Each child is holding a different colored ribbon which they either stuff it in their back pocket or hand it to their waiting mom. Grandma's are snapping pictures of children holding trophies and ribbons.
The show ring attendant opens the entrance gate to let the last round of anxious kids in with their lambs. It's down to the best of each class. A show down. Ashley pulls the rope halter off and flings it in my directions. I catch it mid air. "Good luck" I say.
It's lame I know but it's all I can think of at the moment because my heart is about pounding out of my chest. I feel a bit sick.
The final contestants lead their prize lambs around the arena and they are staring intent on the judge. Signaling them to circle the ring the judge is just as intent, watching as each lamb takes a step. Everyone stops and quickly gets to the front of the lamb pushing into it's chest with their leg so it will brace up showing every ripple of muscle. Ashley's lamb looks awesome not a leg out of place due to the months of intense daily training on the farm over the summer.
The judge walks confidently down the line of lambs sliding his hands over the top of the lamb's loin and leg to check the amount of muscle each one had.
I hold my breath when he gets to Ashley's.
Leaning on the fence I watch as the judge steps back looking down the line of really high quality lambs. Which one will he chose? I don't dare to think it would be Ashley's.
With big strides the judge heads toward the winner. I suck in my breath, as he heads in Ashley's direction. Ashley is not taking her eyes off him keeping her lamb perfectly set up, slightly pushing into him so that his muscles are accentuated.
As the judge gets closer he thrusts out his hand to congratulate the winner. The crowd claps and cheers as he picks the grand champion lamb.
"Congratulations, Mom!" someone on the rail next to me says.
The pride flows through me as I watch Ashley accept the trophy. I smile because I know all the years of hardships, the drive and determination that went into this one small moment of glory.