When it comes to the show ring, this North Carolina sheep producer is helping raise a different kind of flock

A story that started with hardship ultimately led to a producer impacting the lives of youth involved in sheep showing. The North Carolina Farm Bureau takes us to Haynes Farm in Dobson, N.C., to hear this inspiring story.

A story that started with hardship ultimately led to a producer impacting the lives of youth involved in sheep showing. The North Carolina Farm Bureau takes us to Haynes Farm in Dobson, N.C., to hear this inspiring story.

The fourth-generation family farm prides itself on providing fresh products to the community and educating the next generation on the importance of agriculture. Originally, the operation began as a sawmill but today has expanded to a farm operation growing a variety of produce, including sweet corn, tomatoes, and broccoli. They also raise beef cattle and lamb both for commercial sale and showing.

“I love making people smile with a delicious tomato or by teaching young people how to show their livestock animals,” said Hannah Haynes Johnson, owner of Hayes Farm.

Johnson grew up in the ring as well.

“I think that showing livestock is one of the best things that any kid can be involved in,” she said. “I started showing here in other shows. When I was four years old, I was showing beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, and pigs.”

Johnson moved away from her family’s farm and took a break for college—then came 2017.

“My dad passed away, so I came back home; took over the farm; had chickens with Purdue, lost the contract with them; and I said, ‘I’m going to put sheep in here,’ and so I put sheep in a chicken house,” Johnson said.

What started with five youths and a ram has now turned into 32 animals — all raised for show. Since Johnson cannot show them herself, that is where youth livestock showers like Kendall Ayscue and Ceily Bledsoe come in. Johnson has taught these talented kis everything she knows—and proof of her invaluable guidance is evident in their ribbons.

“I always tell these kids, the most important thing to me is that—number one, you have fun; and number two, that we’re nice to everybody,” Johnson said. “We always congratulate the winners. We’re happy for them. We have a lot of friends in the barn, and I think that’s really nice. We all help each other. You know, it’s competitive, but at the end of the day, we’re all friends -- and I think that is by far the most important lesson of all of this.”

However, there may be another important lesson—and Johnson may not even realize she’s teaching it.

“She taught me everything that she knows to make me become the better person I am today -- not just in the show ring, but mentally,” Bledsoe said. “Basically, we’re like family.”

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