Will Schilling was just 12 when he fell in love.
"Dad traded in sheep a bit and I remember watching young first-cross ewes jumping off the truck and thinking how absolutely beautiful they were," Mr Schilling said.
"I thought, 'Just imagine if everyone could buy Border Leicester rams to have first-cross ewes'.".
The teenage Mr Schilling began accumulating ewes for his Glenlee Park Border Leicester Stud, running them on family-owned and other timber blocks.
His grandfather, Merino breeder Mervyn Schilling was a "bit funny" about the choice of breed to begin with but became Mr Schilling's greatest supporter.
"I never had any financial help from anyone - I did it all myself - but my grandfather was always there if there was a ewe in trouble and to help me prepare for shows," he said.
"He was too ill to come to the shows with me in the last few years but always rang at about four o'clock to see how I'd gone.
"I'd never won a broad ribbon at Bendigo when my grandfather passed away four months ago.
"All I could think about when I won was how proud he would've been and what he would have said."
That win was nothing less than the supreme long wool exhibit at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show.
The turnaround came after the now 24-year-old Driscoll, McIllree & Dickinson stock agent bought his first property, 101 hectares near Dimboola, 18 months ago.
"The show sheep are in the paddock around the house now, so I can get out there with them every day after work," Mr Schilling said.
"I'm just a hobby farmer and work full-time, so when the sheep were half-an-hour away, I just couldn't manage it and was preparing sheep in the dark.
"This time, we had crappy, drizzly weather the week before the show and I was able to put them in the shearing shed."
Mr Schilling said the winning ewe, an 11-month-old, had always stood out and was the culmination of a focus on breeding sheep with strong hindquarters, well-sprung ribs and good feet and legs.
"She stands well, has nice pasterns and pretty good hindquarters," he said.
"She's a real show sheep, always alert, not a black spot on her body and just looks true to the breed."
The ewe is an all-rounder, so choosing the right class posed a dilemma.
"I decided to shear her in May to show off her hindquarters, got half-way through and regretted it," Mr Schilling said.
"I walked up to the house carrying her lovely fleece and told my partner I'd buggered it up."
The attention the win brought has been a little overwhelming.
"It's been a whirl of photographers, interviews and people coming up to me saying nice things about her," Mr Schilling said.
"I'm not sure if people agree with the judge that she's a great sheep or if they're just trying to pump me up because I'm young.
"It is a massive moment in my life."
Despite her newly-found stardom, the ewe will get no special treatment.
"She'll be put back out into the paddock with the rest of them," Mr Schilling said.
He has toyed with the idea of flushing the ewe for embryos but will make a final decision next season.
Glenlee Park Border Leicester Stud sells 20 to 30 rams a year and will show the ewe again at Sheepvention and then at Adelaide Royal Show.