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Jr. stockshow experience led to lifetime interest

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Every January, the annual Bandera County Jr. Livestock Show brings back memories for Bonnie Naumann. Naumann, who grew up in the Pember ranching family here, was a 7-year-old first grader when she entered her first show as an exhibitor. Throughout her school years, she showed showed angora goats, market lambs and breeding sheep.

Many of Naumann's animals ended up in the champion's circle. "It was very rewarding to win a champion. You knew that your hard work, time and effort put into the project had paid off," said Naumann. "In those days, if you won a champion, you would get a bid of $8.50 to $10 a pound, or something around $1,000 for the champion market lamb. You would use the money to pay your feed bill or for another lamb the next year."

While most of her animals cooperated on the way to that blue ribbon, Naumann recalls having one market lamb drag her completely around the ring. "I never let go," she said, "it was pretty embarrassing, but I remembered my dad's words, 'you better not let go of that lamb!'"

For the 4-H and FFA members who have prepared the 562 entries in this year's show, this week is the culmination of a lot of hours of hard work. "Any animal needs to be handled and worked with prior to the show," said Naumann. "The animal and the exhibitor need to get acquainted with each other. The angoras need to be kept free of lice, their feet trimmed, and the pen clean. The week of the show, the exhibitor has to pick and clean the fleece by picking out hay, bedding, or other foreign vegetable matter. The market lambs need to be exercised, accustomed to the halter, walked, and set up. Lots of handling pays off."

Today, Naumann works as a consultant for a small natural gas pipeline company, Pioneer Gas Pipeline, Inc., out of San Angelo where she has worked for over 11 years.

She and her husband, Dale, retired Medina ISD school principal, continue their interest in sheep and goats.

Born and raised in Spicewood, Texas, Dale attended Marble Falls ISD all 12 years. He came from a family of six boys that raised sheep, goats and cattle. He showed various projects at his local junior livestock show each year. After high school, he attended Tarleton State University and graduated in 1982. He was hired as the Medina Ag Teacher in 1983.

As fate would have it, "Dale and I were introduced to each other at the San Antonio Livestock Show," said Naumann. "Later, we crossed paths in Bandera at a dance. We married in 1986."

The couple promote the angora industry by serving on boards and through membership in sheep and goat organizations.

"We both serve as officer and director of the Texas Angora Goat Raiser's Association. Currently I serve as the president and Dale the secretary/treasurer," said Naumann.

She is the 1st Vice President of the American Angora Goat Breeders' Association and is involved with Bandera County Farm Bureau and the Mohair Council of America on their sheep and goat committees. The Naumanns raise angora goats, boer goats and nubian goats. Some of those animals are sold to youth for their project animals.

"When the Houston Livestock Show discontinued their angora show, Dale and I started the Bandera Angora Goat show held each year in December," said Naumann. "Exhibitors have the opportunity to show for added jackpot money and some very nice prizes. We ask for support from other angora producers and businesses."

Dale Naumann serves as the superintendent of the angora division at the Bandera Junior Livestock Show. Both spend time judging angora junior shows all over the US and in Canada.

"Raising goats is a very satisfying and can be a profitable hobby. The goats are good natured and great brush clearing animals. The angora's number one plus point is the luxury fiber it produces, mohair," said Naumann.

The history of agriculture in Bandera County includes the history of angora goats and mohair. Bandera County had several angora herds from the 1950s to the late 1990s. The Bandera Wool & Mohair Warehouse (now Love's Antiques) was a central location for local growers to sell their mohair production each year.

According to Naumann, when the government phased out wool and mohair subsidies in 1999, angora goat production declined in Bandera County.

Bandera County had 5,200 head of angora goats in 1992, while in 2007 the numbers declined to 840 head. In Texas in 1992 there were 1,498,037 head of angora goats, and in 2007 there were only 132,697 head.
"Dale and I believe strongly in promoting and continuing the angora goat industry to keep the breed alive," said Naumann. "Names that come to mind of Bandera County angora breeders and project angoras from the 1950s are Homer Bolen, Howard Hay, Hicks & Pember, Craddock, Faris, Akin, Mansfield, Mazurek, Pember, Chafin, Kendrick, Flach, Storm, Langford, Evans, Middle Verde (Keese), and Nightingale. There were probably others I have forgotten."

While admiring the 2012 Jr. Livestock Show winners out a Mansfield Park this week, spend a moment to wonder how some of those winners may, like Naumann, turn their experience into a lifetime of promoting the best in agriculture.