Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Day at the Fair: Taylor's First Show

This week was the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in our town. It's always a great time as long as we avoid the rides There's a good Holstein show that we like to attend, and this year we got very involved in it!
For one not aquainted with showing of dairy cattle, it involves picking ones best beasts, training them to be lead around on a halter, and then bathing and clipping them to look their best, then leadnig them before a judge with a group of like-aged animals, and the judge chooses the best. This can lead to huge shows and cattle worth many thousands of dollars, wonderful Dairy Genetics, and prestige among peers.
Most show people start in 4-H and most have a farm or farm experience.
Taylor has shown some interest in showing a dairy calf, despite not having been around them as much as I would like. Showing dairy has been a long time tradition in Scott's family, starting before his grandfather and continueing through his mother and Aunts and Uncles, to he and his brothers and cousins, and now, his daughters. Taylor is almost old enough to join 4-H as a Cloverbud, and she's ready to show her first calf. So Scott calls up his friend with a good Dairy Farm in the area, naturally at the last minute, and sure snough the day before the show, his friend says "I brought a calf for Taylor." And we go off to see her. And she's as wild and silly as a 6 month old calf should be. We have one day to train her
Taylor was a little nervous but the next day after being tied up all night and washed by some older experienced people, "Jumper" has calmed down. Scott takes her out for a first walk, and it was interesting to see her attempting to climb him, climb gates, leap sideways, and basically avoid all contact.
Before too long she was calmer (smart little thing she was) and Taylor decided to get closer.
I decided to take the two small kiddies to the petting zoo for a little while to give the hard workers a break and some quiet. When we returned from the horse barn, we found Taylor had rolled up her sleeves and was actually leading the calf around! what a change!
She did a lot of the work after this, grudgingly sharing the load with her dad who gave her some advice and tips on starting to show. But really she has taken to it quite naturally, and after just a short time was comfortable around the calf.
the calf also needs rest and food and during this time it is good to get her used to being brushed and having people work around her. The girls decided to brush their calves and play with them a little.
So we put the calf to bed, ran off to the a soccer game for Holly where the little girls went with their Grandmother for the night and Taylor and I went searching for some "whites" for her to show in the next morning, then back to the barn to walk the calf some more, and then to a reception for show participants. Attempting to keep it an early night, we left and went home to bed. Scott had to go wash cows at 2 am, and I had Taylor up and ready to go by 8.
Taylor arrived the next morning ready to show in her spiffy whites and found her calf all clipped and clean and almost ready for her!
The wait outside the Arena for the show was a little nerve wracking but it was a nice chance for Taylor and her Jumpy calf "Cobequid Senator Wave" to calm down and walk around a little.
It also gave Mom the chance to take some very nice photos of Taylor and her Wave.
After a check in with the calf's owner and Scott's friend, Taylor headed into the ring.
When showing dairy cattle, the showperson walks around the ring Backwards, yes backwards, holding up the head and keeping a nice straight back, walking Very Very slowly.
They are lined up by age, youngest to oldest, and walk around the ring while the judge looks them over and asks any questions he needs to know.
They line up the first time, so that the judge can look at the animals side by side and standing still. He then decides again the order he wants them to walk out and line up again.
Oh my she's so small in there!
The second time they line up, is the order in which the ribbons are handed out and the place in the class. Taylor was SO pleased to get a ribbon!
After the judge gives his reasons, the showpeople lead their animals away with their ribbons And Taylor walked away with her Third Place ribbon.
Scott took her back to the barn while the show continued and I went off to take the official photographs of the class winners. I occassionally saw Taylor running through and was able to sneak off to look for her. Scott was showing during most of the show.
The show was about 6 hours long and included 10 classes, complete with the Championship classes and the Breeders Herds.
And after the show with Scott's friend's barn taking home most of the awards including Grand Champion and Premier Breeder/Exhibitor, there was drinks to be had and cows to milk.
Thus ends the show day. We went off in a happy state to pick up the girls who had developed Mystery Fevers and took them to the last Baseball game of the official season, where we were cold and cranky LOL. Home and into bed early, everyone was SO tired!

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