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In 1903, young orphan Jeremiah Kincaid lives with his pious, hard-working grandmother on their farm near Fulton Corners, Indiana. One day, Jeremiah and his friend Tildy greet an arriving train that is carrying champion trotter Dan Patch. Jeremiah watches in awe as the local blacksmith, "Uncle" Hiram Douglas, puts a new nail in one of the beautiful horse's shoes. Proudly wearing the old nail as a ring, Jeremiah tells Hiram and Granny that he wants a colt of his own to rear as a racehorse. Granny tries to discourage Jeremiah's impractical daydreams, but allows him to keep a newborn, coal black lamb that is rejected by its mother. Naming the lamb Danny, Jeremiah tends to him and hopes to make him a champion so that he will be allowed to keep him. When Jeremiah pastes a picture of Danny into his scrapbook, he imagines that the "Wise Old Owl" emblem of the Farmers Trust and Savings comes to life and advises him to do the best with what he's got, as David did when he defeated Goliath. As time passes, Danny matures but is still a rambunctious lamb, constantly in trouble. After Danny rips apart a screen door, Granny orders Jeremiah to keep him in the barn, but Danny's plaintive cries induce Jeremiah to put him on a leash and take him along to Pete Grundy's general store. At the store, Danny raises another ruckus and breaks through Grundy's screen door, but Jeremiah explains to Hiram that Danny was frightened by Grundy's mean son Fud. Hiram then tells Jeremiah about the sheep-judging contest at the Pike County Fair, and later, while Jeremiah and Tildy are playing, he tells her about the fair and she offers to help with Danny so that she can go along. On the farm, Granny complains to Hiram that Jeremiah's devotion to Danny has made him disobedient, and that she will have to sell the lamb the next time he causes trouble. Just then, Danny, who has been startled by a train whistle, rips through the new screen door, which Hiram has just installed. Fed up, Granny announces she is selling Danny in the morning, but again gives in when she finds Jeremiah asleep with Danny in the barn. Hiram builds a sturdy pen for Danny, then tries to help the children persuade Granny to allow them to take Danny to the fair. Granny refuses, however, saying that the trip would cost too much money. Discouraged, Jeremiah is about to give up when the Wise Old Owl encourages him to have some "stick-to-it-ivity," just like Christopher Columbus and Scottish king Robert the Bruce. His determination renewed, Jeremiah works hard over the next few months, but earns only two dollars and fourteen cents. Grundy offers to pay Jeremiah for wild honey, and so Jeremiah and Tildy follow a bee into the treacherous swamp, where they eventually find a huge cache of honey. Grundy pays Jeremiah twenty-two dollars, but when Jeremiah and Hiram head home, Granny tells them that Danny has run off and Tildy got lost while looking for him. Tildy returns, but the anguished Jeremiah spends hours searching for his pet. Although she is worried about Jeremiah, Granny reproves him for caring more about potential prizes than about Danny himself. The next day, Jeremiah finds Danny and then informs Granny that he promised God that if he could find Danny, he would not go to the fair. Touched by Jeremiah's resurgance of faith, Granny tells him that she promised God that they would go to the fair if Danny returned home safely. At the fair, Jeremiah walks Danny into the ring for the judging of the champion ram lamb. Danny is the only black lamb, and Jeremiah is the youngest handler, but the head judge chuckles sympathetically when Jeremiah reluctantly reveals Danny's dubious pedigree. Danny then butts the judge as he bends over, and Jeremiah is crestfallen when the blue ribbon is awarded to another lamb. The judge stops Jeremiah from leaving the ring, however, and tells him that Danny is in "a class by himself." Because he has done the best with what he has, the judge awards Jeremiah a special award of merit, and Granny tearfully applauds her grandson and his beloved lamb. Back in Fulton Corners, the townspeople welcome Jeremiah and Danny, and Grundy treats everyone, including Danny, to soda and watermelon.