Saturday, 20 July 2013

Sheep shows, belt buckles and Calgary Stampede

This is a huge long blog post,
grab a cookie, a tea and put your dinner in the slow cooker as this might take some time...
(This one should make up for my long absence on the blogging front)

As my friends on facebook know,
I took the kids down to Olds so that they can show their ewe lambs at the provincial 4-H sheep show.
The trip way down South took a few days longer than I initially thought it would,
not because of bad luck, but rather because the kids did such an awesome job!

With about 10 million pictures, I will give you an impression of the week.
A blow by blow account.
Roy describes the whole week in one word "fun",
Jess says "it was awesome, I learnt so much, it was an incredible experience and so exciting,
I cannot wait for next year."
That just about sums up our kids.

It all started off with the trip way down south to Olds ( close to Calgary).
The two ewe lambs, Yolo and Bella were loaded up in a big box on the back of the pick up.
We waved Eric good bye and left the ranch in his capable hands.

We got down to Olds at about 3pm, got the kids registered, the sheep installed and the washing and trimming got underway.

As this is the Provincial  4-H sheep show and Summer Synergy event, the kids needed to do all the work.
Us, parents sat around, drove around, fetched food and water, gave moral support etc..
they were long days.

The first night of social competition was a team, King of the Grill Competition.
Each team was given ingredients and from that had to make a meal for the judges.
Neither Jess or Roy's team won, ( no surprise there)
but they did get to know some other kids and got some cooking experience.

Wednesday morning was the time for some "skill tests",
the kids had to do a Marketing Project, and an on site photo challenge, they had their "Your hired" interviews, covered some educational components and in the after noon had their "Sheep trimming competition."

Now, this sheep trimming was a whole new ball game for our kids.
A trailer load of lambs were hauled in,
the kids handed over their sheep halters and whichever lamb
(about 90lbs and heavier)
came out of the trailer was "their" lamb.
These lambs were not halter broken, so many did back flips and rolled around in the dirt before getting tethered at their spot.
 The challenge was to have your,
now very dirty lamb,
show ready in 45 minutes.
As this is a dry challenge you where not allowed to wash or use any products on them.. (nor, to my disappointment, consume alcahol.. haha)

Jess's lamb was rather dirty on the belly, so she must have spent about 30 brushing and carding the lamb, trimming some wild hairs and generally working very hard on her lamb to make it as presentable as possible.
(Tommy you taught the kids so much!)

She won second place in the Senior trimming competition.

Roy also worked very hard on his lamb, he awed the judge by also trimming his lambs feet and carding it. He won the Intermediate trimming competition.

Both Jess and Roy were placed in marketing projects and other skill tests.
Wednesday night was another fun night with an Amazing (Farm) Race.

In any of their "breaks" which were few and far between they worked on grooming their ewe lambs in preparation for the conformation classes.

Thursday morning started at 7.30 am with a multi judging competition.

All 240 kids from  the beef, dairy and sheep livestock categories had to participate in this event.
The kids where given the following animals to judge.
Beef heifers, Dairy heifers, cow/calf pairs, market lambs and flakes of hay.

The kids got 12 minutes per category to judge, place and write down reasons for their placing.
After the judging part, the kids were seated in a quiet area ( no talking) allowed where they ,
one by one had to go to a judge and give oral reasons for their respective placings and give reasons for this placing.
Something like this:
"I place cow 3 over 2, because she has a strong top line, has beefiness, strides out correctly andhas perfect udder placement. Cow 4 is placed at the bottom, even though she has a  cute ears,  her cow hocks, poor condition and runty calf puts her at the bottom of this class of great cow/calf pairs..."

It was funny to watch as the beef kids where feeling the market lambs brisket for finish and the sheep kids where wondering which anorexic dairy heifer was better than the other..
Both the kids did ok in the Multi- Judging but did not place.
Both agreed that they need more practise in this area.

After the Judging, it was time for the ewe lamb conformation class.
The breeds where for 99% suffolk sheep and suffolk crosses.
Our Dorset lambs were the odd ones out.
The judge was not convinced about Jess's ewe lamb's movement and placed her 6th in her class.
Roy placed a bit higher, 3rd place with Bella.
No supreme champions for them.

That night, they had an awards banquet.
Jess visited with the Minister of Agriculture at the salad bar.
We had a great evening with Tommy, Braydon, Tanya and her hubby.

Friday morning was once again a 5am start... yawn.
The kids had their Showmanship competitions.
Roy in the Intermediate age group had some tough competition, but ended in a respectable middle of the class placing. Concidering that he was showing for this first time without any halter and in a tough showmanship class, he did really well.

The Showmanship battle was a tough fought battle in the Senior class.
The sneaky judge attended the previous days show and had started the showmanship judging from the stands. She had noted down how and what the kids had been doing before they even knew that they were been judged.

The showmanship judge observed the kids while the conformation judge ran the kids and the lambs through there paces.

After about 45 minutes the Senior group was reduced to the final two, Jess and another girl.
The judge, tested them, made them switch lambs and was just waiting for one of them to make a mistake.
She eventually placed Jess second but did admit that this was a real tough decision as both girls were very capable in showmanship.
I was so proud of our hill billy kids, they did great considering that this was their first ever big sheep show.

Following the showmanship the senior kids had to do Show Team Judging.
In pairs, one kid is the judge and the other is the ring man.
 Together, they have to judge a class, speak to the public and make placements.
In this way they train to become  future judges...
Jess was judge..

The sheep showing class ended with a costume class:
(not for my kids.. hihi)
Baaad nurse

And, Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Lamb..

 Friday afternoon ended with a Parade of Champions, a visit and speech and obligatory photographs with the Premier of Alberta, Allison Redford.
The winners of the Scholarships would be announced at this parade.

The kids were exhausted...
Roy was given an envelope and was asked to sit in the "special area",
he was receiving a scholarship.
All smiles.

My heart sank for Jess as I knew how hard she had worked for this week.
Finally, finally she too received an envelope.
I was SO excited for them

What this meant, was that late Friday night, the kids heard that they would now need to be at the Calgary Stampede at 7.30am. Their they would have to participate in a gruelling interview from the CEO's of some large Multinationals and from the Calgary Stampede Committee.
The interview in Downtown Calgary at the Tervita High Rise, would further determine the value of the scholarship award.
Over $65 000 would be awarded in scholarships to these top 54 kids.

That meant for me... stress.
I needed (at 8.30pm) to go clothes shopping for the kids, they needed respectable clothing for the interview, the sheep needed someone to care for them, we needed to make alternative sleeping arrangements and I needed to be able to find my way around a city that I did not know.

I got a migraine and ended puking for most of the night...

Finally, on Saturday morning we found our way to the Calgary Stampede,
the kids where taken to their Interviews, and I relaxed.
I could not do anything more for them.

I did fear for what Roy might say during the interview...
however he assured me he would be "good".
" Good" in Roy's mind is different to my understanding of "good".
I only breathed a sigh of relief when I saw him again.

After lunch, the kids had the afternoon free to look around
"The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth".

We watched the international Auctioning competition, the International Youth Livestock program shows, looked at booths and displays.
But, mostly we just hang out, tired.

At 6pm, they kids had an Awards Banquet,
some  food, more speeches and lots of  congratulations.
Roy and Jess won a Calgary Stampede belt Buckle, Roy won a $500 scholarship in the Intermediates.
Jess moved up from a $1000 to $ 2000 scholarship after a good interview.

Both kids were over the moon, however the Belt buckle was the highlight for Jess.
Jess and Roy where the only kids from Northern Alberta to receive scholarships,
and being their first time, this was actually rather special.

The evening was still not quite done,
the Calgary Stampede wanted to honour all the scholarship winners in front of the 50 000 plus  Stampede spectators.

They used terms like;
"exceptional young people who are the future of our agricultural industry."
"the Stampede recognised 55
of the best and brightest agricultural youth"

I think, I blushed.


At 9.30 pm, we could leave the Calgary Stampede and head back for the night at our friends in Bowden.
We would sleep in until 8am, have breakfast and then head off home, collecting to two rams to take back home with us.
Eric had a tough week at home, following the progress via text messages and facebook. We do appreciate all he did while we were away.
He expected us back late Friday night and that ended up being Sunday.
Eric, these are for you:

Monday morning it was back to business,
hay needed to be cut, sheep sorted, house cleaned and onto the next big event,
the rodeo and rodeo Queen competition.

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