The Tintern Young Farmers eagerly arrived at school on Thursday morning last week, ready for the 2.5 hour bus trip to Bendigo. We were only ten minutes into the trip when the eating of the slices began. Maya Watt, the Young Farmers Captain, made some Afghan Cookies from a recipe which was passed down from Stephanie McDonald, a previous Young Farmers Captain. A new tradition has started!
Once we arrived at Bendigo we sorted out our sheep and put them in their pens and fed them. We then went to the shops to organise supplies as we had to self-cater in our cabin groups. The Big 4 caravan park where we stayed was really good. It had a jumping pillow and a huge indoor play centre which we all enjoyed playing on.
On Thursday night went to bed early as our buses were leaving early the next morning. Friday was judging day and the atmosphere was buzzing. Daisy Macmillan, our other Young Farmers captain, prepared the sheep beautifully, clipping them with the hand shears. Our Romney were judged at 1pm and the East Friesians at 2pm. Our judge for the Romneys was Mr Hugh Taylor from the Doughboy stud in New Zealand. Mr Taylor has used Elmo, our ram, for some of his progeny. The rams were up first; Elmo (328) took out champion ram and our young shorn ram was reserve. Mr Taylor was very impressed with our sheep. Next it was the ewes’ chance; 456 was champion and Miss Universe (318) was reserve. Hugh said it could have gone either way and he was very impressed with their condition going into lambing. The East Friesians were next. The judge was Brayden Gilmore. It was a tough choice between Rascal (320) and Bart (501) for the champion ram. This time Bart, our young ram, took out champion, but the judge described them both as ‘the best examples of the breed’. For the ewes, it was between 515 and 409 for the champion title. The little ewe 515 took out champion, so, on this occasion both our young sheep were crowned champions. After the judging, we fed our sheep for the night and headed back to our cabins.
Saturday was our quiet day. Most of us helped other breeders to show their sheep. We also visited the Merinos and Corriedales and learned how to judge them. Professor John Hickford from Lincoln University in New Zealand hosted a talk with 6 people who had different careers in agriculture. It was very informative and all our students who attended the talk thoroughly enjoyed it. Saturday afternoon we walked around the Showgrounds and bought heaps of thick, woollen socks which are perfect foot attire for sheep shows!
Sunday’s activities began with Junior Judging at 8.30 am. It is usually quite hard for us to judge sheep that we aren’t familiar with but we all did a great job. We had to judge Corriedales which are sheep that we don’t have. We had 4 minutes to judge 4 sheep, then 1 minute to write notes before speaking to a judge about how we ranked the 4 sheep. If you make it in to the top ten, you are given the opportunity to speak on a microphone and tell the audience about the features of each sheep which led you to your decision. Congratulations to Zoe Forbes in Year 8 who came 8th in her division.
At 10:00am we had our first interbreed class which was the ASSBA Objective measurement class. The senior students had to quickly race back from Junior Judging to clean faces and make sure they were prepared. We had two entries. This is a class for rams and uses their measurements. We didn’t place but the interbreed classes are always good to enter to gain experience. The schools’ interbreed competition was at 1:00pm. We had 4 sheep in the competition. There was 13 schools from all different schools in Victoria and New South Wales. The first class was the ram class. We had Elmo and Bart entered. Bart placed 2nd out of 13 sheep and Elmo sadly didn’t place. The second class was the ewe class. We entered 456 for the Romney ewe and 515 for the East Friesian ewe. Our Romney ewe came 2nd against 12 other schools’ sheep. Next was the pair class, in which we entered 456 and Elmo in a pair for the Romney’s and Bart and 515 for the East Friesians. We didn’t place in this class but we were highly commended for our pairs.
After an exciting and busy day we packed up our sheep, loaded them onto the trailer and headed home.
by Ashlea Cross, Year 9