Yoakum girl wins three awards in third year at livestock show
Third time was the charm for Jayla Morris, who raised goats for the Yoakum FFA and 4-H Stock Show.
In her third year of competition, the two goats the 10-year-old girl showed won reserve champion in their categories Friday.
"I am older than I was for my past two years of showing, and I've learned that working with my goats a lot really pays off," Jayla said Saturday.
Jayla also won Grand Junior Showmanship for her second year in a row.
"Showmanship is kind of like sportsmanship in sports," said Jayla, who enjoys playing softball and basketball, and runs track. "You have to keep your eye on the judges, your goat has to be good and you have to try your hardest. And, if you fall down or mess up, you still have to be happy."
Jayla has always been an animal lover. She enjoys playing with the family's two dogs, Mattie and Bandy, their horse, Bo, and the barn cats at her family's country home in DeWitt County.
Her older sister, Ashley Morris, 17, shows both goats and pigs in the livestock show. Her female goat won Grand Champion on Friday and her female pig won Reserve Champion on Saturday morning.
"My mom used to show a lot of different animals, and she said the best one is a lamb or a goat," said Jayla, who has shown goats three years straight.
Goats are every bit as stubborn as their reputation, she said.
"I like showing goats because I think it is a challenge," Jayla said. "Since goats are really stubborn, I treat it as a challenge to make them work with me."
Jayla shows a female "breeding" goat and a male "market" goat each year.
This year, Jayla's breeding goat had been through an accident while under the care of its previous owner that left it blind in one eye for a short time, so she was named Helen, after Helen Keller.
"She got hit in the head by another goat when she was young and the breeder said she was blind in one eye," said Brenda Morris, Jayla's mother. "The lady told us to take her and that if we had any problems, we could bring her back and they would give us another doe. But she did great and her sight is fine now, the best we can tell."
Jayla's market goat, Diamond, was named by his previous owner to reflect the markings on his face.
"They said the white patch on his face looks like a diamond," Jayla said. "But I can't see it."
Three or four days a week, when Jayla gets home from Yoakum Intermediate School, she exercises her goats for about an hour each.
"We walk them down our long dirt road, then run them back home," Jayla said.
She feeds the goats twice a day.
On the day of the Yoakum FFA and 4-H Stock Show, Jayla must keep eye contact with the judges and keep a pleasant expression - trusting that the hard work she's put in training her goats to walk in step with their legs square will pay off.
Jayla also trains the goats to brace themselves, showing the judges the muscle they've built from their daily exercises.
Her parents, mom Brenda and dad Steven Morris, support her each year, and her grandmothers, Joycelynn Arnold, of Yoakum, and Shirley Borski, of Anderson, come to watch her and sister Ashley show their animals.
Many of Jayla's friends show animals at the stock show and she has made friends through the show as well.
"All of my friends show different animals, but we still give each other help and courage," Jayla said. "I'm really proud of my friend, Kaci Herman. She shows steers and wins almost every year."
The stock-show animals were auctioned off Saturday evening.
"Our show allows like 80 animals to be auctioned off. This year, we only have around 69 animals, so all of them will sell," Brenda Morris said.
Jayla hopes to join her sister in showing pigs next year, but she does not plan to give up showing goats.
"I think I would really miss it if I gave up goats," Jayla said. "Animals are very active and fun to play with. If you like going outside, running and having fun, animals are the thing for you."