ANDREW Hood was a devoted "cropper" on the Hood family's Parkes district aggregation based on Cherry Garden and Glenora,
But that changed around 2015 onwards when the family's Merino and first-cross flocks changed the bank balances.
Mr Hood does the book work and budgets, and around 13 years ago he believed it was hard for him to like sheep as the family was making good money out of cropping.
Their Merino flock wool and lamb production obviously took precedence in the past couple of years thanks to the drought, but even so, Mr Hood is the first to say the sheep will always have a role to play in the family's enterprise.
In 2017 the Glenora Merino flock was placed runner-up in the Parkes P.A. and H Association's Doug Bicket Memorial Merino Ewe Competition, then was presented an encouragement award in 2019.
However, the improvement within their flock advanced the family to the winners-circle this year to take out first placing against five other flocks.
Andrew Hood said the family was happy with their sheep this year even after the flock had experienced the dire conditions like every other enterprise in the state.
"You look at our paddocks today with lucerne bursting out of the ground, but they weren't like that three weeks ago," he said referring to the improvement since rain.
The competition was judged by Henry Armstrong, Pemcaw stud, Dunedoo, returning, and introductory judge George Henderson, Grogansworth stud, Bowning.
Mr Henderson said he could see the evenness within the sheep.
"You can see the good breeding, classing and management., There are no glaring faults among them."
Mr Armstrong said the maidens looked good productive ewes.
"Lots of good skins, bright wools and good nourishment," he said.
"I like their skin type, good depth and maternal traits." On display were 234 maidens which remained after a 33 per cent classing of the 19 micron average flock by Andy McLeod, Dubbo.
The flock was originally on Egelabra, then Manderville, Haddon Rig and in the past nine years, Overland blood.
Previous competition winners, the Watt family of Allambie, Alectown, were awarded second place with their Darriwell blood flock of several decades.
Rob Watt said the lambing percentage within the 19 micron flock was 112pc in 2018 with 440 maidens left from a 35pc classing by Darriwell stud's Russell Jones.
Mr Watt said they chose the sheep that run against the hills better.
"So they have little cross-fibre and are well enough nourished to keep the dust out," he said.
Mr Armstrong said the ewes looked great and had grown out well.
Geoff and Phillip Cole and family's Pindari flock at Mandagery, was presented the encouragement award.
The Langdene blood flock of 18 micron had also done it hard.
Mr Henderson said the maidens had very good wool.