by Christine Heaps
The February AGM at Carlisle was very poorly attended this year, although we did receive a record number of apologies! I understand that it clashed with the football, & the romantics amongst our members were celebrating Valentines Day, so I will try to arrange a better date next time. Guest speaker David Pigney, agricultural engineer from Appleby, gave a really interesting talk about his family firm, and had us in stitches as he told of ‘on-farm emergencies’ he had attended in his role as a ‘Retained Fire-Fighter’. What a shame we didn’t have a room full of people, as he was really good, in fact Robert Carter was heard to say he was the best we had ever had. (Maybe he was under the influence of St Valentine – he was certainly in good form!). Bill Heaps was again elected to serve as Chairman, & Alan Tallentire as Vice-Chairman. Rob Addison, Robert Carter & John Holliday were elected as new committee members, and thanks were expressed to John Morton, Chris Addison & John Trafford for their work over the last five years. John Trafford was co-opted back on to the Committee as he is our representative on Council.
In March, Penrith auction held a Spring Special, with a show of haltered cattle on the Sunday, & store sale on the Monday. Drifting snow on Sunday prevented Fiona from setting off from Dumfries, but our intrepid Chairman & Secretary braved the elements to raise awareness of the Simmental breed, erecting the club display board & promotional material which Fiona had obtained for us. Society sponsorship of £100 went to the highest priced Simmental X on the Monday – sold by T. Taylor, Crackenthorpe, Appleby. Hopefully there will be more Simmental entries next year. Watch out for it!
The Spring Show & Sale at Carlisle in April proved to be a successful day, with Judge Ron Loftus (Blackpool herd) picking the winners from an impressive line-up of Simmentals. Trade was good, and almost all the entries sold to new homes at respectable prices. Supreme Champion, Holtstead Lydia, from F & J Andrews, Holmfirth, sold for 2000gns. Top price bull at 3100gns was Astcote Sparrow Hawk, from Stephen Evans, Towcester. Close behind at 2800gns was Simply Rudolph, a Slievenagh Fantastic bull out of Rosten Horsfield, from Robert Fitton, Westhoughton, Bolton. Robert has only just become a member of the NW club, but has been breeding Simmentals for quite a few years.
The NW club Perpetual Trophy for the best animal exhibited by a club member went this year to John Irving, Houghton, Carlisle. His bull, Edenbank Raymond, by Innerwick Grenadier out of Edenbank Empress, sold for 2200gns, and John also took home the engraved whiskey glasses presented by the NW club. I’m sure a celebratory drink would be in order that night. Well done John.
The NW Club’s Monthly Award scheme for the top-priced Simmental sired animals sold at auction between October and March was again well supported, with nine markets taking part. Mr Paul Stamper, Rose Farm, Little Broughton, Cockermouth, sold the top-priced store at £735 at Penrith Auction, and Mr Fred Turner, Silver Hill Farm, Broad Lane, Rochdale, the top-priced calf at £245 at Gisburn Auction. As well as their prize money, they each received a prestigious Simmental bodywarmer, and were featured in the farming press. NW member John Holliday had the top- priced store in December, but not the overall top, – better luck next time!
Borderway Mart, Carlisle, on the 2nd of June was this year’s venue for Beef Expo 2006, and the NW Club found itself involved with Fiona, setting up and manning the Simmental stand. Promoting the versatility of the breed, Fiona and Council members had sourced from the North West club and from further north, different combination of quality Simmental crosses. We had cows and calves, bull beef, and organic beef on show, as well as some showy young pedigree bulls. We had a fair amount of interest in the cattle, which was quite an achievement in what is primarily ‘Limousin country’.
Our Annual Stockjudging was held in June at High Grisburne, Appleby – home of the Swingletree herd and despite my directions (to leave the M6 at J28 Leyland instead of J38 Tebay !) we had a good turnout of members – both young and not so young. Our thanks went to Vice-Chairman Alan Tallentire, who had been busy preparing for our visit. His cattle were a credit to him, and thanks also to Alan’s Mum and Dad, who made us very welcome. They provided a lovely afternoon tea to go with the perfect sunny day, and our raffle raised £56 for club funds. Master Judge was Mr Chris Addison, and help was at hand for the scoring from Yvonne, Juliet and Wendy, who quickly and efficiently identified the winners. Top scores went to Wendy Black and Robert Murdock (Jt 1st) and John Peile and Leah Morgan (Jt 2nd). In the Juniors, Becky Holliday came 1st, Richard Sanders 2nd, Martin Holliday 3rd, closely followed by the junior Peiles and Addisons. It was smashing to see so many of the young members taking part, and very encouraging for the future.
The under 21’s teams who went on to represent the NW at the Royal show in July were Becky and Vicky Holliday, and Richard Sanders and Martin Holliday. A first time at the Royal for all of them, and up against seasoned opposition, they were a credit to the NW Club and to their parents. Having each travelled a great distance, they arrived on time, smartly turned out with white coats and big smiles, and all achieved scores to be proud of. In the under 30’s, Rob Heaps had plenty to smile about as he won the Individual title (Jt 1st), and along with Ron Loftus also carried off the Team prize. Twice in three years, the NW has taken both the Individual and the Team honours. Well done all of you!
NW members were out and about on the show circuit once more, and Chairman Bill Heaps was Simmental Champion at Cumberland County Show with his Challenger bull, Rosten Seth. The Simmental stand offered welcome refreshments on what was a scorching hot day, and when news broke that official photos could be seen of NW member John Jefferson, in his new, hand-stitched, Italian suit (judging the Royal show), people had to be given water, as the excitement was just too much for them! However the best bit of the day had to be the Young Handlers competition, where we had a record number of entries! We were so surprised by the numbers that we didn’t have enough rosettes to give to everyone. You ‘oldies’ had better watch out for these lads when they come out against you in the show ring in the next few years! The winner was John Barlow (Denizes) who received the Ralph Lloyd trophy from Judge, Mr Robin Bell. Well done to John, and also to Jack and Thomas Peile, Will and Hugh Addison, Thomas Barlow, Ian Blackburn, and Ross Pattison for making the competition into something special. Hopefully next year we might also have some girls in the competition - bring out your daughters!
Lancashire members and exhibitors came under the scrutiny of Wigton member Robert Carter when he judged Garstang show in early August. We were pleased to see Mrs Carter out and about again, and looking well! She had a ringside seat in the sunshine to see Jimmy and Vikki Wood take the Championship and also the Interbreed title.
The Society goblets were this year presented at Chipping show, where Council member John Trafford judged the Simmentals, giving the Championship and the goblets to the Wood’s cow, Popes Nelly’s Princess.
After the extreme heat experienced at the Royal and Cumberland, it came as something of a shock when we found ourselves on a wild and windy Appleby hilltop, where Bill had been invited to judge the Simmentals. Champion was John Addison with his smart young bull Lartington Samson. John was also exhibiting successfully in the Native breed classes with his Belted Galloways.
In September, Westmorland County Showground became a quagmire as the rain started during the night and continued all day long. Simmentals were out in force (and in mud) as John Trafford judged some of the strongest classes of the season in what must have been the smallest ring ever. Whilst having to dodge the dairy exhibitors, who had to pass through our ring to get to theirs, the Judge somehow managed to keep his cool, and once more, Jimmy and Vikki Wood took the championship and followed up by winning the Interbreed as well.
Also in September, the annual farm walk took our members South to Stoke on Trent, to see Joe and Rachel Ede’s Fole herd of pedigree Simmentals. What a splendid day we had! The sun shone as we climbed on the trailer for a guided tour round all the groups in all the fields, and what a lot there were! Up hill and down dale, Joe regaled us with facts, figures and pedigrees. On two occasions, he left behind the person opening the gate, and when we shouted, he must have thought we wanted to go faster, and gave us a ‘white-knuckle ride’ we won’t forget in a hurry! The impressive cattle we saw around us were evidence that his breeding, feeding and management strategies were working well. The delicious lunch we were greeted with was evidence that Rachel and her friend Pam had been extremely busy. Gordon Ramsey couldn’t have done better – and no swearing either – (apart from the odd mutter from Joe.) Having devoured the food like we hadn’t eaten for a month, we offered our grateful thanks to our hosts for a most enjoyable day, and set off home – a long journey for the Cumbrians amongst us.
Our October meeting at Penrith was well attended, with members bringing along friends from other breeds and commercial enterprises. Clive Brown, Regional Manager for Eblex gave a film presentation on Targeted Beef Selection and Handling, and the ensuing questions and answers covered a number of topics including the export market and its demands. Afterwards, with Peter Kaye unable to attend, we had the next best thing, from Bolton, Robert Fitton – Chairman of the Young Members Association – showing slides and giving us his account (the uncensored version) of the YM 2005 stockjudging trip to Canada, which everyone enjoyed immensely.
The next time we saw Robert was in Perth, along with wife Louise and new baby son Thomas, where they were on a shopping spree, taking home Woodhall Shona at 2600gns to add to their ‘Simply’ herd back in Westhoughton. Also ‘splashing the cash’ at Perth were Ron, David and Ann Loftus, investing 8500gns in Dirnanean Shane to join their ‘Blackpool’ herd. Hitting the heights from the North West on the sales front was ‘Pasturehouse Snickers’ a 2nd prize bull from John and Liz Peile, Wigton, selling for 6500gns. Whilst John and Liz were understandably pleased with the sale, Jack, Thomas and Lucy were less than happy to be leaving their precious ‘Snickers’ at the market! Demand was good all round, and entries from Popes, Blackpool, Annanwater and Lyvennet all sold well.
At the time of writing this, we are hoping that the strong trade at Perth will continue at the Carlisle sale in November, where we have entries from all parts of the country, several coming for the first time.
In December, we will again be celebrating Christmas at the Greyhound Hotel, Shap. We are looking forward to another excellent meal there and this time, we have as our guest speaker, Ernie Coe from Northumberland, who so impressed us at the Beef Expo dinner, that we booked him for the North West ‘do’. As we approach Christmas, there seems to be a bit of a buzz amongst Simmental breeders, perhaps a bit more optimism than of late. Let’s hope it continues as the challenges of a new year unfold.