When my eldest decided to get involved with Ag day at her school we were not expecting the roller coaster of calf chaos.
Ag day was new for us oversea people and we did not really know what to expect. To be honest my daughter really wanted a lamb, but after a bit of research, mostly around all the ways they can die, and the round the clock feeding requirements, we went for a calf.
The story starts with my daughter breaking her arm, on the very day she is due to cycle down to the farm to meet her new friend. This meant that as parents we were slightly more involved than we had intended.
To start with the calf would run away, buck, kick and generally keep us all busy for a good half an hour, before we could get its halter on. This was while it was still confined to a relatively small area.
It took two weeks before we could get the halter on with limited fuss, but, there was still the occasional kick, just to keep us on our toes. A couple of these kicks landed very close to my daughters knee, making me more than a little worried about the whole venture.
When the halter was on the calf (by this time named Evie) it refused to move, this did not bode well for the leading challenge.
Even the farmer suggested that changing calves may be in order, they all have different personalities and Evie was possibly just the stubborn type.
I thought it was a little sad to label a young animal so soon. It had been removed from its Mum only days after being born, been subjected to having a halter and rug put on each day, and only recently been dehorned. It did not know what was going on, and did not understand what my daughter was trying to get it to do.
I discussed the options with my daughter, and she made me proud when she chose to stick with Evie. She accepted the fact that there could be some embarrassment on the day, especially if Evie chose to do her usual trick, of digging in her hooves, and heading backwards.
Two weeks out from the show and the calves were let out into the big paddock, great, we thought as we came along with the halter and lead. 40 minutes later, we had all the calves back in the pen and were able to single Evie out. Two days later though a miracle occurred. My daughter went into the paddock and Evie let her approach, and put on the halter!
Leading was still a bit of a stop, go, affair, but my daughter persevered and kept on practicing. None of us had high hopes for the actual day.
On the day we got up extra early and gave Evie a wash and scrub, she looked great. We headed to school and awaited her arrival. Evie arrived, with a fresh coat of something brown and smelly on her legs, from one of the other passengers. We got to work washing this off and making her coat shine.
The story ends with my daughter gaining a third in Leading and in Rearing. Just goes to show that the performance on the day is what matters, we all have good days and bad days. It would have been so easy to give up on Evie early on, all it took was time and patience, just the same as with children.
A lesson in perseverance and patience for my daughter and a timely reminder that you just can't rush some things, for me.