With three members of one family showing six myotonic goats each at the Jackson County Fair, there’s a good chance someone is going to win something.
At Monday’s 4-H goat show in the fairgrounds show arena in Brownstown, Whitney Rogers, 16, earned grand champion and reserve grand champion does for the third year in a row. Her cousin, Jacob Tormoehlen, 16, won grand champion wether and master showmanship, while his stepsister, Madisen Polly, 14, took home champion senior showmanship.
While technically they are competing against each other in some instances, it’s friendly competition.
“It’s fun. I enjoy it,” Tormoehlen said. “Competition, sometimes it takes over and you want to beat each other. But in the end, you’re still family.”
All three said they get the biggest thrill out of being in the show arena.
“I just make sure to make eye contact with the judge and study and just have fun,” said Rogers, who is in her third year of showing myotonic goats at the fair. “It’s fun to be able to show your goats after working so hard the past few weeks.”
For Tormoehlen and Polly, it was their second year showing.
“It was a fun experience last year. It was exciting. Nerves and stuff build up,” Tormoehlen said. “It just kind of calms you down because the first year going in, you didn’t really know what to expect. Second year, you’ve been through it before, so it’s just kind of like a replay.”
On Monday, Tormoehlen won grand champion wether for the second straight year.
“I like the rush, the feeling you get in the show arena and everyone’s eyes are on you,” he said. “You feel important in there.”
Polly said she won rookie and junior showmanship in her first year.
“It’s kind of nice to be like, ‘Hey, look at me, look what I did with my goat, look how nice it is.’ It’s fun to just be out there,” she said of being in the show arena. “It’s kind of nice to be in there just knowing everybody is watching you and watching all of the hard work you put into it.”
Rogers’ family operates Moenning Hill Farm between Seymour and Brownstown, so that’s how she got started in showing myotonic, or fainting, goats at the fair.
“We were going to get Pygmy goats, but then we saw the fainting goats and thought that they would be a unique breed to get into,” she said.
The family has around 60 myotonic goats on the farm along with a San Clemente Island goat, of which there are less than 650 remaining in the world, her mother, Staci Rogers, said.
For the fair, Whitney Rogers chose the six myotonic goats that had the best look, walk and body weight.
She worked with them on a daily basis and learned about their personalities and qualities.
“We just make sure we walk them every few nights and give them some show feed, get them filled out nice,” she said. “Just make sure their coat looks nice and shiny and bathe them.”
Before Monday’s competition, Rogers also was looking through a book to make sure she knew the goats’ body parts and vaccinations for the showmanship portion.
“Working on the farm helps me learn more about the goats each time,” she said.
Rogers has learned enough about the goats to where she became a junior breeder for the Myotonic Goat Registry. She started breeding and selling them seven years ago.
It has been a busy summer for Rogers, as she has balanced time working with her goats with attending volleyball and basketball practices and taking an advanced-placement literature class.
“It’s tough, but sometimes, I got home from practice and went outside and walked the goats,” the Trinity Lutheran High School junior said.
She said more and more people are showing myotonic goats at the fair. Staci Rogers said myotonic goats easier to handle than other breeds.
“They are a really gentle breed,” Staci Rogers said. “Their personality is different. They are just a really laid-back breed.”
When Polly started showing two years ago, that was her first experience with goats.
“I had never lived on a farm, and those are the first animals I got. When I was really little, I was kind of scared of them,” said Polly, a freshman at Brownstown Central High School.
Tormoehlen, a junior at BCHS, had an older sibling who bought goats from Staci Rogers six years ago, but he didn’t start showing until two years ago.
“When I was little, we had horses, but goats are nothing like horses, a lot smaller,” he said. “I basically learned everything I know from my sister and Aunt Staci. When (his sister) got started in it, (Rogers) taught us, and now, when we have babies and sell ours, we pass on the knowledge. It’s basically just like a learning experience.’
Polly and Tormoehlen live at Circle of Seven Farm, which is next to Rogers’ farm, so they spent a lot time working with their goats to prepare them for the fair.
“You kind of make favorites and just come up and sit in the pen with them and raise them from when they are babies,” Polly said. “We use show feed, which will fill them out more and make them muscular. Then you’ve just got to wash their coats and trim them up nice and make sure they look nice.”