Caring for sheep a full-time job
Raising sheep can be tough. By May, it can be even tougher.
The Theno family parents Jeff and Stephanie and daughters Brooke and Nicole can attest to this.
In preparing their sheep for contest and show at the Leavenworth County Fair, the family tends to the sheep with kid gloves.
In the morning, around 6 a.m. one of the family members will wake up to feed and water the herd. After that, someone will walk the sheep, four at a time for 15 minutes.
"It usually takes two, to two and half hours in the morning," Jeff said.
Later in the afternoon, the water will be changed and the Theno daughters will practice bracing the sheep. This involves holding the sheep's head still at a high position to help show muscle definition.
"You're trying to develop a Maurice Green in an animal," Stephanie said trying to explain bracing to an uninformed reporter.
And as the night winds down, the family will usually give the herd a second feeding at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
The Theno family, which lives on Fairmount Road just north of Basehor, participates in numerous other activities at the fair including arts and crafts, cooking and clothing but the fair usually centers on the sheep for the Thenos.
The fair activities involving the sheep will begin Monday, Aug.12 with a weigh-in and culminate on Wednesday, Aug. 14 with an auction of the animals.
Youngest daughter Nicole, a fifth-grader at Basehor Elementary School said she looks to forward to the day after the family's sheep activities are done.
"That's when we can go on the rides," she said.
Showing sheep is almost tradition for the Thenos. The family has participated in various contests and shows around the country over the years.
This includes the American Royal, the Kansas State Fair and the World Sheep Festival.
Oldest daughter Brooke, a freshman at Basehor-Linwood High School, also helps in the KALF (Kids Agriculture Learning Festival) program at the American Royal.
"(KALF) gives inner-city kids an opportunity to see and learn about the animals," Stephanie said.