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Fair preparations

From the Farm

August 5, 2011
By Kerry Hoffman (kahoffman@newulmtel.net)

For most people, the Brown County Free Fair doesn't start until Aug. 10.

For those of us that are taking exhibits, the fair begins several days, if not weeks, before the official kick off. I guess there are some that start working on exhibits a week before the start date, but I am not mentioning any names.

I know my family has been preparing for several weeks already, and that is highly unusual for us. Normally, we procrastinate until we can absolutely not drag our feet anymore.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

This year, we are planning on taking seven or eight Jersey cows and heifers to the fair: Moolatte, Pickles, Pinky, Silky, Marty, Mindy, Sandy.

My niece, Heidi, has been diligently walking Moolatte, aka Moo, every day for the last several months. It's almost like they are best buds. She started giving Moo baths a few weeks ago.

Heidi has never before shown an animal, so I figured we would give her the chance to experience what a show feels like, right here in my own back yard Wednesday afternoon.

Joey was called upon to show his old standby Pinky. He has shown her at the fair ever since we purchased her back on October 10, 2006. She is the greatest Jersey in our herd. All he has to do is put a halter on her head and she is ready to go. She's the leader of the pack.

Russell brought Silky to our pseudo show. He hasn't spent a lot of time working with her; he just figured it's going to be a cake walk and she'll follow him around our show ring. Well, Silky started getting a little bucky after Pinky chose to show her that she's the boss by t-boning her in an unusual act of aggression.

I chose to walk Pickles, who I assumed (like mother, like son) was going to be even easier than a cake walk.

Steve served as the "judge," and was in charge of asking us questions that he felt any dairy judge would ask.

I instructed Russell to start walking in a circle with Silky, then I told Heidi to follow Russell, Joey to follow Heidi and I would follow Joey. I figured placing Heidi behind the "pros" Joe and Russ would offer her the opportunity to learn from all three of us.

I started the circle and Pickles started copping a major attitude.

Have you ever heard of fainting goats? They fall over and play dead when they are scared.

Well, I think I have a fainting Jersey on my hands. I assumed Pickles was tame and ready and raring to walk in a show.

I was so wrong. She decided to get all attitudinal and she intentionally plopped down to the ground three times. She was lying on her side, her legs sticking straight out; looking like she died. The third time she absolutely refused to return to her feet, no matter how many times I tugged on her halter, she refused to use her god-given legs.

I expected it when Steve, Joey and Russell let out mammoth belly laughs, but I never thought Heidi would giggle at me.

I stood by Pickles, hoping she would eventually decide to stand on all fours, but nope, she wasn't going to have anything to do with it.

I directed Joey, Russell and Heidi to walk their cows around the brown lump of Jersey lying in the grass.

Ultimately, I gave up on Pickles as well and let the halter drop to the ground.

Steve and I showed Heidi how to properly stage Moo and try to keep her happy and calm, all the while Pickles remained prone in the grass.

When we finished our pseudo show, Steve walked over to Pickles and said, "Maybe if I take her halter off, she'll get up."

Nope, that didn't work either.

But when he tried to put it back on, she jumped up like she just realized she had those four god-given legs. It was a miracle! She figured out she could walk again.

Heidi and I then decided to give Moo and Pickles their first haircuts as well.

Because Heidi has been working with Moo, it was a cinch to trim her beautiful reddish-brown hair. Pickles really didn't like her hair cut one bit, and I really didn't like cutting her hair. She was just way too jumpy. I have never had to move around so much when giving a calf a hair cut.

It looks terrible.

Hopefully, after the pseudo show today, our cows and calf will learn how to behave during a show. It could be interesting.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at kahoffman@newulmtel.net

 
 

 

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