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Oakdale Junior High Student Shows Well At Expo
1 lamb
Thirteen-year-old Maryn Ludlow with a few of her award winning buckles. Photo By Teresa Hammond

Some might say 13-year-old Maryn Ludlow was born to be a showman.

The Oakdale Junior High student did her family, as well as her heritage proud in late summer as she brought home an overall Fourth Place finish from the California Youth Ag Expo.

It was the very first and very last show for her prized sheep George Washington. Animals which placed Top Five were eligible for sale. George placed fourth among a total of 491 lambs.

“I was just trying to do like historical people’s names,” Maryn said of her prize-winning sheep, noting she gets a feel for the animal before giving them a name. “This was a year of historical names, we had Harriet Tubman, George Washington Martha Washington. Betsy Ross.”

“It’s the replacement show for the State Fair,” Maryn’s mom Shannon Ludlow shared of the event. “The State Fair didn’t have a show and didn’t reach out to anybody. This one was held down in Tulare.”

Shannon additionally shared the event was hosted largely due to industry support from Oakdale Feed, AL Gilbert and Associated Feed, all of which were big sponsors.

“They put together the show for the kids because I think people have lost sight of the fact that state and county fairs started for farmers and ranchers to exhibit their livestock and crops, share ideas, you know, that’s how fairs started,” Shannon shared.

The teen admitted to being both a little shocked and sad by the fourth place finish, as it meant she would have to part ways with the prized animal.

“I could not believe that I just did that good at a state show,” Maryn added of the shock factor.

According to her mom, Maryn is a fifth generation livestock producer, with history coming from both parents.

“It’s really sad. I mean I get choked up,” Shannon confessed as she shared the family lineage. “She’s fifth generation of livestock producer. Her great great grandparents ran cattle in Yosemite Valley. Her great grandparents helped start the La Grange rodeo with a group of their friends.”

Yet the changes in venue and show procedures have not seemed to affect the spunky 13-year-old who’s quick to state, “It’s my life, I’ve done it ever since I was like four years old.”

The youngest of five, Maryn shared she first became interested in showing, following her older siblings’ footsteps. Now at 13, being in the arena is something she deems as her “sport,” spending a minimum of two hours a day, seven days a week.

“I started showing when I was four. I started with a rabbit then I moved on,” the livestock enthusiast shared. “I started saying ‘Mom, I want to be like those kids; I want to start showing big animals.’ So I just started with goats and then I was like, they’re not my thing and I got into sheep. I was like wow I really like these animals. They’re my life.”

That was two years ago. Since then, Maryn has continued to show approximately twice a month, to as much as every weekend in the spring.

“She wanted to make her own mark and she’s done it,” Shannon said of her youngest child.

The mother of five shared that’s no easy feat as the 13-year-old’s heritage comes from both sides. Dad’s great grandfather was a dairy science professor in Utah. Mom’s great grandfather and grandmother, Tim and Ginny Carlin, ranched all over the valley from Yosemite to Snelling, Merced, Mariposa, LaGrange and more.

Yet the local teen has a passion for more than showmanship. True to her heritage she also participates in breeding projects, with hopes of producing her own lambs.

“We have a bunch of ewes out in the pasture ready to lamb,” she said.

Partnering with a breeder and learning the way of the trade is also proving beneficial for the Oakdale Junior High School student

“She goes in helps with those AI (artificial insemination) days and learns about, genetics and reproduction and all of that,” her mom proudly stated. “That’s stuff that you just don’t do every day.”

“That’s my jam,” the student breeder said of the science work. “I don’t know, it’s really cool how you can just see their insides from a microscope. You take the semen and you see how many cells are alive in it and then you have to do a bunch of math to see if it’s the right genetics, right amount of semen cells alive to artificially inseminate them with that specific amount of semen.”

Recognizing this isn’t your average 13-year-old conversation, Maryn shared she has two groups of friends: her school friends and her show friends.

“It’s all fun,” Maryn said of the time and commitment required by the livestock. “It’s never like ‘oh we have to do this’ or it’s all serious all the time. Most of the time it’s really fun like in the show ring, we can help each other; not in showmanship that’s a little bit different.”

“There’s something every day. I mean literally every day,” Shannon said of their ranch life, “you know we’re starting to have babies. So babies are coming, and we’re still breeding, the ones that didn’t breed in this last go around so it’s always something that needs to be done.”

As for future plans and career goals the young breeder shared those aspirations have morphed a bit as she ages and gains experience.

“It’s between two things right now,” she said. “I’ve changed my mind two times in the past five years. First I wanted to be a veterinary obstetrician and now I like the nutrition side, all the feed and supplements.”

And regardless of what career path she eventually chooses, Maryn is just enjoying the success she has found in showmanship so far.

“For me only being 13, it’s a huge accomplishment,” she said of placing in the top four. “For only doing it for like two, three years.”