By Michelle Hampton

Issue #106 • July/August, 2007

Each year during our local county fair, one of the best-attended events happens when farm animals, donated by local ranchers, are let loose in the big rodeo arena. Kids that sign up for the event scramble around running madly ofter the throng of young animals. One of the main rules is you catch it, you keep it! So here I was at the starting line and kids were lined up all across the arena. As the cheering got louder my heart beat faster and I was preparing to bolt. In all the years I had participated in the Barnyard Scramble I had never caught a single thing without the help of an adult. I was determined that this year, the last year I was still young enough to enter, would be different.

They had already set out the chickens, the rabbits, and the ducks. So I waited to see what was coming out next before making the decision on what animal I would go after. The next group they brought out was the large animals. The goats were out of the question. My family had one before and let’s just say there were no fond memories. The pigs were definitely out, because honestly, they smell. Then last, they brought out the sheep. Since it was the only thing left, I decided to go for it. Once I had chosen, I made a vow that absolutely nothing would get in my way.

Michelle and Tippy (offspring of the sheep caught at the scramble) walk in the Curry County, Oregon, parade.
Michelle and Tippy (offspring of the sheep caught at the scramble) walk in the Curry County, Oregon, parade.

The announcer hollered, “Get ready, get set, go!” As I dug my new shoes into the manure filled dirt, I went. As fast as I could I ran straight toward the sheep I had picked out. When I was within a foot of it I dove. My fingers latched onto its wool and I held on for dear life. I hit the ground. I grabbed the wool tighter and turned my body so I could get into a sitting position. Just as I sighed with relief, someone else latched onto my sheep. My head snapped up and I found myself staring into the eyes of a boy about a year younger than me. I held on tighter.

The rest of the kids had already left the arena carrying their prizes. The boy and I just sat there glaring at each other, neither of us letting up on our grip. A judge began walking towards us, and all I could think was, “That sheep was mine.” The judge hovered over us for a minute and then asked “So whose sheep is this?” “Mine!!” the boy and I yelled in unison. We then both started yelling things like “No it’s not!” “Go away!” and “It’s my sheep!” until the judge told us to break it up. “I guess there is only one way to settle this,” said the judge. “You two will have to race again. The first one to grab the sheep gets her.”

I thought it was very unfair. But if I had to race again, I would not let that boy beat me. At the same time I thought that I heard the boy mutter under his breath, “I am not going to lose to a girl.” Well, that settled it. This boy would get no mercy from me. They took us back to the starting line and the sheep to the middle of the arena.

When the whistle blew there was no stopping me. The boy and I were neck and neck, but not for long. The sheep had run to the left and, cutting the boy off, I followed. I tripped once pounding my knee into the dirt, but got right back up. I looked back to see where my opponent was, only to find him right on my tail. I picked up speed, even more determined now to win.

Again I was within a foot of the sheep, and again I dove. I hit the ground and thought I had missed, but then found myself being drug around the arena. The dirt was in my face. I didn’t dare open my eyes. I held on tighter and dug my elbows into the ground in an attempt to stop. Instead, the sheep flipped over, taking me with it. It was done. I had won. Lifting my head I saw the boy standing in front of me, a look of shock on his face. “Nice race,” I said. He began to cry as he turned around, and I just smiled.



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