Labours of love shine at ag day

Ella Rich cuddles her lamb, Sweetheart Photo: Jesse Boyd

Whitikahu’s Jesse Boyd braved the rain to attend her local ag day. She reports from the scene of much wet wooliness.

Both experienced Agriculture Day enthusiasts and weather forecasters alike had predicted rain and, as promised, Orini and Whitikahu Schools’ joint Ag Day was a wet one. It was also the culmination of much hard work for the children who entered.

Outside the Whitikahu School grounds, the busy road became a makeshift parking lot. Dozens of cars, utes, and trailers sidled up to one another trying to avoid a long walk with kids and animals in tow.

Most traffic respected the commotion and most children respected the puddles as an early morning grooming session had put some obvious pride in their work. The works themselves were Jerseys, Friesians, Romneys, Saanens, Arapawas or mixtures. Some wore coats, some wore towels, and ours wore a Farmers shopping bag cut to fit as a smart purple raincoat.

Sooky, my daughter’s very first lamb, proved to be rather drier than his competitors, but unfortunately, not as pliant. The rain was heavy during the morning, but soon eased off as the competition continued though to midday. There were only six lambs in last year’s Ag Day, but Monday’s competition was much fiercer with 22 lambs entered. If, indeed, lambs can be considered fierce. Rather, they were combed to a fuzzy roundness and smelled of wet carpet.

Next to the lambs were 18 clever and beloved goat kids. Many sat in their owners’ laps in between bouts of calling and leading in the ring. Across the field, which valiantly resisted becoming soggy under two-footed and four-hoofed traffic, were the calves.

The preparation of labour and love did not manifest as good behaviour for all of the calves on the day, and a few tears were shed. However, with cappuccino in-hand, mothers provided comfort and nearby, other young farmers and animal-lovers, like my daughter, collected sixth place ribbons with pride. The more coveted first place ribbons were shared equally between entrants from the two schools.

This event requires much community spirit, and/or unpaid work, and the parents and locals involved did an excellent job. One such parent is Allen Crouch who has organised the joint Agriculture Day for the last 10 years. This has been his final year in the role as his youngest child will soon leave Orini Combined School.He enjoys the history of the event, the legacy it lays out for the community and young people involved, and the joy it brings to the children. The two schools receive great support from the parents, says Allen.

It is this generosity of time – it takes Allen two months to organise Agriculture Day and the Group Day event – that keeps the day a fun and vital part of the farming and schooling calendar.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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