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Stubborn lamb brings 11-year-old success at Silver Dollar Fair

CHICO — Mason Kaelin has been around sheep his entire life growing up, but this year his market lamb, Carl, brought on new challenges and rewards.
Kaelin, from Gridley, is 11 years old and has been a part of 4-H for the last four years. He said he had to work diligently to get Carl, a simple yet stubborn lamb, to cooperate throughout the time he has had him.
“He doesn’t want to work; he won’t work. He’ll normally fight, jump up or just be stubborn and not move. He will not let me touch his feet unless he knows I won’t do anything,” Kaelin said. “He’s just been a really stubborn lamb but he’s getting better. We’ve gone a lot farther than we had when we first got him.”
Kaelin said this was his most successful year of showing, and he had mixed feelings about selling Carl. He was one of many who auctioned off their animals at the Junior Livestock Auction at the Silver Dollar Fair on Saturday. The auction, held at Cassady Pavilion, began at 10 a.m. Saturday and ran for most of the day. Hundreds of people attended to watch, purchase and auction off the animals.
“About 50 percent of me is glad to see him go and 50 percent of me is sad to see him go. I’m a little, tiny bit glad because he has been a challenge to deal with,” Kaelin said. “But, I’m kind of sad because of how well he’s done for me. He’s my first market lamb to actually win this much so I’m kind of a little sad to see him go.”
Carl weighed 145 pounds, which is a good number, Kaelin said.
“For a market lamb, you want to have a good, fat body, a nice butt and you want it to be nice and meaty,” Kaelin said. “You don’t want it to be fat because if it’s fat, that’ll go against you. You want it to be nice and meaty and have a nice round area. A market lamb, you show it, you sell it for meat and stuff to another person. They’ll go 12 to maybe even $20 per pound.”
Kaelin had shown market lambs in the past but said this was his most successful year. He plans to put his money in his savings account along with his other winnings.
Not only had Kaelin learned about sheep and how to take care of them but he said he also learned leadership and teamwork skills and never to give up, even when it gets tough.
“If you give up that means you’re losing your own morale because that means that you’re thinking that you can’t do this and that will cause you to not do as well,” Kaelin said. “But, if you keep going no matter what, in my opinion, that’ll make you more confident and you’ll keep going.”
Kaelin’s grandfather, Doug Kaelin, said being a part of 4-H and going through the process of raising sheep teaches Mason skills he will use for the rest of his life.
“I think the biggest thing it teaches any kid is responsibility,” Doug Kaelin said. “That animal has to be fed twice a day; you have to make sure it has clean water.”
Doug Kaelin also helps Mason raise the sheep and gives him pointers for showing them along the way.
“We raise sheep, so this lamb he’s had since it was a baby. He saw it be born, probably saw the mother conceived,” Doug Kaelin said. “Our situation is probably a little different than a lot of people because we have sheep 365 days a year.”
Since the Kaelins raise sheep, Mason has seen and learned the entire life cycle, even the parts that aren’t always pleasant. Doug Kaelin said Mason has seen lams who have died after birth and understanding the life cycle is important. Aside from learning about sheep, Mason has also bettered his social skills.
“They learn how to talk to people at the fair. He enjoys talking with people and talking about his lambs. To me, that’s huge because that’ll carry on into life,” Doug Kaelin said. “I think it prepares kids for life in a positive manner.”
Mason Kaelin took home about 10 awards for the 10 different sheep he brought to the fair. Doug Kaelin said he won two levels of showmanship, two championship rams, had the reserve supreme market lamb overall and more. After winning his age group for showmanship, he went into the senior showmanship competition against some high school kids and won that as well, Doug Kaelin said.
After selling Carl at the auction, the Kaelins said they will return home with the other nine sheep, which will be at the upcoming Butte County Fair in August.
The Silver Dollar Fair continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.

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