Girl power has come to the fore in the cattle rings at agricultural shows over recent decades and mother and daughter team, Kelly and Fiona Jowett of Lower West Scholes Farm near Queensbury, were gearing up for the Great Yorkshire Show when I met them earlier this week.
The girls were busily preparing their six-strong team that Fiona will be parading and they were on the kind of high that showing livestock brings when you’ve tasted early season success.
Just last weekend the pair won the Reserve Champion title at Arthington Show with Limousin X heifer Top Totty where they also showed a Limousin bull on behalf of pedigree breeder Janet Sheard that took first in its class, and a few weeks ago they came away with the championship at Honley Show in the commercial cattle class.
They’re not getting carried away though as they know only too well the competition in Harrogate will be much more formidable.
“If you pick up a rosette of any colour you’ve achieved something,” says 16-year-old Fiona.
“We managed a third and a fourth there last year and we’re happy with what we’re showing this time around but at the end of the day it’s all down to the judge.
“We got ourselves in front in terms of preparation and the show cattle were nicely balanced out very early on.
“We spend time training them every day so they are ready for show days and started with some of the team in December. It’s all about that human contact to get them right in the ring so that they touch well for the judges.
“We regularly walk them up and down the lane and once a week they will have a run around to stretch and work their muscles out in the field.
“We bought Top Totty from Mark Harriman and Sarah Warriner of Pickering. She is now about 14-months-old and will go at the Christmas sales. Hopefully we will have picked up a few more rosettes and with a little luck a few more champions and reserves with her this summer.”
The girls’ show season takes on greater momentum after their local Bingley Show where Kelly is secretary for the cattle and sheep classes.
“I’ve done a lot of stewarding on show day in the past, but it’s now that life gets pretty hectic with the livestock entries and just three weeks left. Once Bingley Show is over we then compete in at least one show a week at Emley, Halifax, Gargrave, Malham, Kilnsey and Keighley. We finish off the summer season a couple of weeks later at Nidderdale. After that it’s Countryside Live back in Harrogate and the various winter fairs.
“I first started showing with Phillip Summers’ cattle from Clayton and then decided to get one of my own. Fiona took over the ring duties a couple of years ago due to the operations I’ve had on my hips. I’ve had four hip replacements. I had one taken out for 12 months due to infection and had it reconstructed last September so I’ve now retired from the ring and Fiona takes them around. I pamper and prepare them with her.
“When we first started we had no idea about such things as clipping but we watched others and asked how and why they clipped the way they did. We then practiced on a few of our cattle on the farm that weren’t show stock. What’s great is how everyone helps each other at shows. Everyone genuinely wants the other person to do well. John Stephenson of Bordley Green has helped us a lot.”
While the girls are currently competing in the commercial classes it is the pedigree world they would like to break in to.
“We’ve been saving our show winnings from last year and hopefully we will add to it more during the rest of the year. We intend to invest in our own breeding herd of either pedigree Limousins or Belgian Blues. We currently have one pedigree Blue cow and aim to add another good quality cow this year.”
Kelly has a son George, aged eight, who has his own small flock of half a dozen pedigree Zwartbles sheep.
Her parents Stephen and Nicola own Lower West Scholes Farm that runs to 20 acres with a further 80 acres roughly 10 miles away where the store cattle graze during summer.
Stephen runs a suckler herd of 40 pure Salers and Salers X Charolais cows that the girls look after, producing stores destined for Wharfedale Mart in Otley. Calving is usually in February/March.
Kelly’s partner is David Hardy who works for a local plant hire firm and they live in Thornton.
Fiona starts at Bishop Burton College in September following in her mum’s footsteps, but is fully committed to their showing career.
“I’m definitely not going to let it go. We want this to grow. It’s an important part of both our lives.”
Bingley Show is at Myrtle Park on Saturday, July 23.
SHOW IS SHOP WINDOW
Kelly and Fiona are both involved with Aire Valley Young Farmers Club. Kelly is club secretary and Fiona as chairman.
Bingley Show is the club’s annual shop window to attract new members. Kelly tells why she has a main role despite being a mum of one of the members.
“We were down to just six members a while ago and now we have 15, but they are mostly in the junior age group so we as parents have had to jump in and help out.
“Hopefully as the club grows and members get a bit older they will be able to take all of the main positions.
“At Bingley Show we will have the famous YFC ducking stool in action and a stand.”