The end of October saw the annual Sale and District Agricultural Show take place over the 31st Oct, 1st and 2nd November. This month’s newsletter is replaced by an exciting lowdown of all that went on with us at the show. For the first time in our lives James and I made the decision to enter one of our Highlands into the beef section. This is, I believe also the first time that Highlands have been seen at the Sale Show.
To say that the last few weeks have been manic is something of an understatement. James and I have been running around like headless chickens – attending events in Melbourne, buying a house (more on THAT news later!!), sorting out our farm logo, prepping our Heifer for showing, keeping an eye on the farm and assisting with Agricultural Society preparations.
Earlier this month I posted about Mabelline getting the salon treatment. Prep has continued with more leading, getting used to being tied in a stall, handling her with the show-stick, hoof trimming and more washing!
To tidy her hooves up we walked her over the gravel driveway and along the road to make use of the abrasive surfaces. We then used a hoof trimmer to remove more of the keratin overgrowth and smooth out any chips. This was a really handy tool given to James as a Christmas present from my Mum.
The day before the show we gave Mabelline a final shampoo and condition so that we didn’t have much to do in the morning.
A 6am start saw James and I head over to the showgrounds. We literally live over the road, with about a 500m walk – so we led her over before the traffic began to pick up. There we set up in a stall under the newly built cattle shelter with straw, food and water and a couple of comfy chairs. Shortly after we arrived, so did the other beef entrants. This year we had four breeds represented, Highland Cattle, Red Angus, Limosin and Belted Galloway, from 5 Studs and Folds.
We have a greater appreciation of the effort required to get one animal prepared and we are delighted that other people would also undertake the work required to enter Beef Cattle in the Show. The other competitors were wonderfully kind and gave us lots of useful advice on how to work with our stock to develop a show team. I think they though it was good that another breed would join the local circuit.
Part of our show prep was to design a logo for the farm. We couldn’t go to all the trouble of showing without letting people know who we were right?!
This has been the cause of a lot of debate and many different trials. We agreed that we wanted something that was simple and would stand out. Neither of us were keen on the idea of a photo of one of our prized animals, as breeders often sell or lose stock after a while.
When James and I got married I went a little Highland crazy on our invites and wedding programs (literally putting a highland cow or bull on as much stuff as possible – even the cake had highlands on!). One of the pictures was a pair of scribbly cattle; a bull and a cow that I had drawn off the cuff one evening. James suggested this for the logo and it seemed to fit perfectly. Here is the finished result and one we are both really pleased with:
We had these embroidered onto jumpers and our details printed onto a sign which we could hang in our stall at the show.
Mabelline was entered into the class of junior heifer (up to 18 months). At the date of the show she was just over 11 months old. The Sale Show judges each breed individually, before running them against each other for the champion interbreed title. Our heifer won her class prize, whilst she was the only entrant the judge will not award a winners ribbon to an animal unless they feel that the animal is true to type and able to serve their breed well into the future. Sadly she did not go on to win the junior interbreed champion title as there was some tough competition.
What was important to us were the judges comments and the way she handled herself during the day. I have to say that her behavior in both the stalls and the ring were exemplary and we were so pleased with how she led and paraded herself whilst being judged. The judge was very impressed with Mabelline, describing her as powerfully built and a good example of the breed.
Our judge was a young lady who is a breeder of Murray Greys. She made some excellent choices of winners on the day and in discussions afterwards had a lot of useful advice as to how we should develop our breeding programme. It is a feature of the Sale Show that they try to encourage young judges, as they are part of the future of cattle shows.
I also entered myself into the junior handlers class (15 to 25 years) as this is the last year I can participate. This was a good experience and challenging as the judge picked out a bull or heifer for us to lead. After practicing leading Mabelline I was suddenly faced with a much larger Limousin heifer and then a Red Angus junior bull. Both were amazing animals to handle though and a compliment to their breeders.
In total there were four of us; three experienced handlers and then me! Suffice to say I came last – but again scored some good comments from the judge about my politeness and acting well on everything I was asked to do.
My duties on the day also extended to assisting the chief steward. I presented each winner with their ribbon and also led a Limousin heifer in their team of three entry. James also had his first go round in the show ring, he lead one of the smallest entrants, a 6 week old Red Angus calf.
The Rest of the Show
After showing James and I went to have a look around the rest of the show. We were pleased to make it over to the new Taste Gippsland pavilion before everyone packed up. This is the first year this has been run and we were really enthralled to see locally produced goods on show. We stopped and enjoyed a beer or two from the Grand Ridge Brewery before making our way back to the afternoon tea held in the committee room. The Taste Gippsland pavilion was an excellent idea and one we both hope to see growing in the years ahead!
There were many other events on that James and I just didn’t have time to get to. It was great to see so many horse events with jumping and the harness classes in the background. This year was also the Holstein feature breed show in the dairy ring and that looked to have a good turnout. Next year we will make sure our show prep is done earlier so that we can enjoy and see more of the events the day before beef judging.
We thoroughly enjoyed the showing experience and now appreciate just how much work goes into it. Both of us has agreed that this will be a regular event and hope to expand to more shows and with additional animals in the future.
All in all the farm is good and in amongst the chaos of this last week we had another calf. This was a little red heifer (needs to be double checked!) born to Guinevere of Ballochbuie and Hamish of Arrandoon. We still have two outstanding calves yet to be born and look forward to sharing their arrival with you i due course.
I mentioned earlier that James and I have purchased a house.. this also comes with a farm.. watch this space for upcoming and VERY exciting news!!