SHERIDAN — Josie Ankney won overall grand champion for her chicken, Snowball, at the Sheridan County Fair last year, and she’s coming back for a repeat.
But that means a fresh start.
“The chicken that I had last year kinda died,” Josie said.
With more than 150 chickens to choose from, Josie has quite a selection of possible winners in her coop.
And awards aren’t all they produce.
“She tries to get hens that lay all winter, because she has egg sales all year,” Josie’s mother, Kandra Ankney, said.
You can find Josie selling her eggs at the farmers market during the summer. Packs of 18 go for $4 and 12 packs for $3.
Chickens aren’t the only things she knows how to raise.
“I’m raising dogs, cats, chickens, steers, heifers, milk cows, ducks, turkeys, goats, horses — I think that’s all,” Josie said.
This year she’s showing a larger animal, and she’s not chicken about it.
“I’m actually really, really proud of showing my steer, because last year I wasn’t showing my steers,” she said. “I had to show steers for my brother and we’d go to shows like Billings.”
While showing steers for her brother, Josie earned a second- and fourth-place award.
At the family’s home, Josie takes care of her own animals. Yes, her family helps here and there but the majority of the upkeep is on her. Her parents and siblings have their own animals to care for, their own jobs. They even name the animals and refer to each by their name.
“It’s how we talk to them so they know to listen,” she said.
She knows the animals are for eating, even though she names them, but there are some things she won’t eat.
“I’ll try anything else, just not bunny or dog,” Josie said.
“You gonna try cat?” her mother asked.
“No,” Josie said, realizing she forgot to mention having no appetite for the small feline.
While her mornings start as early as 5 a.m., and some days she’s still working after sun down, there is still time for fun.
This past spring Josie played a prank on one of her hens.
“I set a duck under her, a duck egg, and it hatched but like two days later it died,” Josie said.
“We were sad because that hen was lost (and sad) for a while, even though she had a duck for a chick,” Kandra Ankney said.
While working her animals into showing shape, and subsequently showing them, is the biggest part of the Sheridan County Fair, it isn’t the only thing to look forward to.
Josie said her favorite part of the fair doesn’t come until the end.
“At the end of the fair, when we pig wrestle, that’s the best part,” she said.
Even though winning is tough, rolling around in the muck is still enjoyable.
“When I have an awesome team, we get in there, and we just attack that pig,” Josie said. “Last year, it was a good year, but we still lost.”
No matter how the fair goes, win or lose, a shower is still in sight.
“By the time you’re done, you’re covered,” Josie said.