We're back from the fair, and it was a rolicking, exhausting success! The calves did really well; Annabel took Reserve Champion Heifer Calf and T-Bone took both Grand Champion Bull Calf and Grand Champion Bull! We were proud to display their ribbons in our exhibit and are curious to see how the calves will do next month at the big regional show at the Puyallup Fair.
The fair was also a great time for us on a personal level. We really enjoyed getting to know our fellow Scottish Highland breeders better and appreciated how everyone just pitched in to pitch poo (!) and keep our exhibit areas clean. If someone needed a break or had to run an errand, it was no problem for those of us still in the barn to watch their animals until they returned. We heard great stories, had a ton of laughs, and got to know and interact with each others' animals more. Talking with the public was fun, too. We met folks who either grew up in Tenino or live nearby currently, and that was neat. One man even knew which house was ours ("the one with the boat" - the boat that, when it's here and not in Westport, you can see from Highway 507). Some folks seem interested in learning more about Highlands, some want their own someday, and I even met a few who have them currently but aren't in our association.
Physically, the fair was incredibly exhausting. I've since learned that I need to pace myself, although I'm not really sure what that means or how I'd do it. We may put the camper on the truck for Puyallup so we (and our fellow breeders, if needed) can sneak off to the parking lot for a quick nap now and then. Fair exhibitors keep very long hours during the fair (12 to 16 hours seemed pretty standard), and all that slinging of poop and wet shavings and carrying bucket after bucket of fresh water to the animals and maneuvering wheelbarrows full of dirty and then clean shavings really takes a toll. My neck is still screaming at me and we've been home two days now. It's funny, though, how keyed up everyone (including the animals) was on show day - all the cattle outside the barn waiting while stalls were cleaned and waiting in line for a place at the wash rack (I bathed both calves by myself and blow dried their coats, and they did great!)...there was this nervous excitement that wasn't present on the other days. Then, immediately after our show, a sense of relief. The calves settled down and took long naps, heads folded back toward their back feet in the same positions they sleep in at home. The next few days, though, you could sense the boredom and antsyness in the barn as the cattle got tired of staying in their stalls, tied to the wall rail, with people looking at them. A few of us took our animals for short walks down the aisle or outside to exercise them a bit. T-Bone and Annabel got antsy and were trying to head butt eachother and then me everytime I came in with water buckets or the comb, and seemed to relish trying to knock over their water buckets (I have a perfected water bucket death grip now after each successfully spilled). They were very happy to come home to pasture.
All said, though, I loved it, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to experience this during my time off. I can see, too, how I'd probably want to schedule work vacations around fair time so I could do it again in the future. A few refinements to animal handling and exhibit decorations, and we'll be set to head to the Puyallup Fair in 34 days!