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Teenager wins county fair after hours of training (video)

By Elena Watts
Oct. 17, 2013 at 5:17 a.m.
Updated Oct. 18, 2013 at 5:18 a.m.

Olivia teenager Jazmine Wakeham, 15, and her Uncle Billy Herzog of Bay City hang out at the pen holding her reserve grand champion goat at the Calhoun County Fair Junior Livestock Auction Thursday.

PORT LAVACA - Nine months of nurturing a milk goat named Snowball paid off Thursday for Olivia teenager Jazmine Wakeham at the Calhoun County Fair Junior Livestock Auction.

The 15-year-old freshman at Calhoun County High School showed her first goat this year and won grand reserve champion. The teenager has raised steers as part of the Olivia 4-H Club since she was in the second grade but said that raising goats is more difficult.

"You can go to a steer and love all over it, but a goat has to come to you, and it takes a couple of weeks," Jazmine said.

Jazmine walked Snowball down the road and spent time sitting or lying with her in a pen.

Jazmine's uncle, Billy Herzog, of Bay City, purchased five goats for his nieces and nephews to raise. Jazmine, her older sister and two younger brothers worked together to raise the animals.

"My uncle wanted me to try with a goat because his daughter got grand reserve champion a few years in a row, and he thought I could do it," Jazmine said.

Herzog said he likes to see young people succeed. He helped 15 young people in Bay City raise their animals.

Jazmine's morning started each day at 5 a.m. She would feed the five goats, which were kept in separate pens and returned to make sure they ate before she boarded the school bus at 6:30 a.m. Her tasks resumed when the bus brought her back home about 5 p.m. She and her siblings worked the goats on a treadmill to build their back leg muscles and placed their heads on a stand to hold them high. They wrapped up their duties about 7:30 p.m., just before dinner.

Herzog visited Olivia on his days off to teach his nieces and nephews how to show the goats. Jazmine lifts Snowball by her head an inch off the ground. She pushes her knee into the goat's breast to show the animal's muscles.

"It teaches children responsibility. How to care for animals and not abuse them," Jazmine said.

Four years ago, Jazmine rescued a horse named Duke who had been abused its entire life. The halter his owner had placed on him was embedded in its face. Jazmine is the only person who can touch Duke's face without him going wild.

"I sat with him and waited patiently, and he became used to me," Jazmine said. "He started following me around like a puppy dog."

Jazmine wants to become either a veterinarian or a horse whisperer, someone who practices natural horsemanship. One of the reasons she joined the 4-H Club in Olivia was the scholarships the organization awarded. She wants to attend Texas A&M University in College Station.

"The last nine months have made me happy," Jazmine said. "I was so surprised when they announced my name last night - I didn't think I would win."



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