Benton Franklin Fair

Livestock sale bittersweet for Mid-Columbia kids (w/ gallery)

KENNEWICK -- Raising livestock when you live on a cul-de-sac in Richland takes real commitment.

For seven years, Scott Lehrman drove or was driven out to borrowed country land up to three times a day to care for his sheep and prepare for the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo.

Friday, he sold this year's 136-pound 4-H lamb for $5.50 a pound at the 4-H and FFA Market Stock Sale.

It was bittersweet. This is his last year entering a 4-H animal at the fair as the 19-year-old prepares to study nursing at Washington State University.

The all-day stock sale drew generous bids, said Doris Smith, office manager for the sale. Businesses and individuals often buy animals for far more than the typical market price to encourage the kids.

This year the sale started with the FFA grand champion lamb drawing a bid of $15.50 a pound from R.E. Powell.

"We're really luck in this community that it spends this kind of money," she said. "It makes you warm and fuzzy."

As the sale concluded, she estimated that the community had spent a little more than the usual average of about $530,000.

Many of the kids who sold their sheep, cattle, goats and swine at the sale Friday come from families with plenty of experience with livestock.

It's still a lot of work.

Lacey Desserault, 12, of Prosser, raised four lambs this year -- one for the Benton Franklin fair, one for the fair in Grandview and two for the fair in Toppenish. Her parents showed sheep when they were her age and keep sheep now.

The month before the fair, her animals require 10 to 15 hours a week of work. They need halter training and to be taught "to stand nice in the show ring," she said.

This is her fourth year at the fair, although she's raised sheep all her life, she said.

Still, at first selling her lambs was tough for her, said her dad, Dean Desserault.

Friday, Lacey was mostly business, however.

The lamb she sometimes called "Bud," would let her hold him "kind of like a baby," she said.

But the 137-pound animal, a grand champion 4-H market lamb, earned her $10 a pound. She calculated he cost $233 to raise. She will pay her parents back for the cost of the feed from her earnings and bank the rest for college, she said.

"I get attached," said Kadeyn Corrales, 11, of Othello, who comes from a family that sells breeding stock. Timothy, who she described as quiet and tame when she started raising him, sold for $13 a pound to Northwest Farm Credit Services.

But she's all ready to raise another lamb next year, knowing she can't help but grow fond of the animal after all the time she will spend training it, she said.

Lehrman started raising lambs on a whim. At a Christmas party he was asked if he wanted a lamb and that spring he went out and got it.

"I didn't know it would be this serious," he said.

That first lamb didn't make weight -- lambs need to weigh between 115 and 160 pounds for the stock sale -- and he didn't show well, said his mother, Sandy Lehrman.

But Scott Lehrman learned. This year he had a fancy pink ribbon stuck to his lamb's wool in the sale ring for reserve grand champion fitting and showing.

"It's unbelievable (considering) where he's come from," his mom said. "We did not know anything. We are city people."

The family borrowed land in different places through the years, most recently land near Pasco that meant a 10-mile drive.

The toughest part was never being able to go on vacation for the three and a half months when he was raising animals, Scott Lehrman said. The week at the fair always made the sacrifice worth it, he said.

"It's a big part of my life," and will be missed, he said.

But this week he wrote his first check to pay for college. The money came from his 4-H sheep.