By Sam Taff
There's no telling how 8-year-olds Cody and Chad Ludwig will do showing their sheep at the Shenandoah County Fair, but they are sure to have fun and earn lots of hugs for their effort.
The oldest and youngest of triplets, Chad and Cody are lucky just to be alive; they and their middle brother Dillon were born 26 weeks early in 2004.
Cody was only 14 ounces at birth and given a 10 percent chance of surviving, "But I made it," he says, puffing out his chest. "The doctors saved my life." He loves to tell stories, and during a pre-fair interview on the family's Conicville farm, he talks without hesitation.
Chad on the other hand smiles while watching his animated younger brother. He was born first, weighing one pound, 12 ounces, and likes to be the quiet brother, giving his mom attention by sitting on her lap and giving her kisses.
The middle brother Dillon was born blind, at one pound, eight ounces, and shies away from the attention Chad and Cody get leading up to the county fair.
In their 8 years so far, Chad and Cody have fought the good fight, but Aug. 26 they will have a new challenge: showing sheep for the first time.
Their father, Wade Ludwig, has missed only one 4-H meeting in 39 years of being a member -- when the boys were born -- so when Cody and Chad decided to compete at the county fair, they had someone to show them how. Ludwig has shown sheep since he was 9 years old, and for seven years he was either grand champion or reserve grand champion at the fair.
When the boys started work in May, Chad says, their father helped them learn how to show sheep.
"He told us how to hold the sheep still and walk them around and set their legs," Chad explains. "Don't ever let your guard down."
First thing they did was pick the sheep they wanted to show.
"You pick them by naming them," Cody says. "I named mine Bob."
As for Chad, "I named mine Shrimp because he's really short."
Doing a majority of the work themselves, with a little help from their father, Cody and Chad walk the sheep on a rope so the animals get used to being led around.
After all the hard work, the family is looking forward to the show in his or her own way.
Their father speaks with pride in his eyes when he says "My dad is more excited than me because these are his only grandsons."
Their mother Carla admits, "I'm excited and a little nervous," but she makes sure the boys are listening before adding, "I've seen the show and I've seen sheep get away so they really have to pay attention."
Meanwhile, the boys are mixed on how they feel they will do in the show.
Cody answers with concern: "I think I'll do terrible."
Chad thinks he'll do a little better but the opportunity of parading in front of bunch of people really doesn't seem to bother him.
"I think I'm going to be in the middle," he says. "I don't think a little boy in the first year is going to win. I can win though."