Ashlan Holland didn’t come to the Appalachian Fair to whirl around on the Hammer and stroll through the midway with a corndog in her hand. Instead, the 14-year-old’s main focus is cleaning up her family’s herd of Holstein and Jersey cows for the junior dairy judging.
She and older brother Dane hauled a select number of calves and heifers to the fairgrounds from Holly Knoll Farm in Mosheim. The siblings even spend the night beside their cattle so that they’ll be there for milking at 6 a.m. Given that there’s 100 milking cows on their family’s 850-acre farm, they’re used to it.
Holland says she’s pretty picky when it comes to choosing the cows she wants to put in front of the judges. She avoids straight legs and looks for tall ones with some bone structure along their sides. Maybe 150-pound Macey, a Jersey, will place in the junior calves category.
“I think she’s got at least a chance,” said the eighth-grader at Mosheim Middle School. “I’ve got my fingers crossed.”
Getting the livestock ready for judging is a daunting task. The cows are shaved from head-to-toe, except a section of hair along their spines and the ends of their tails, which takes about two hours. Holland will use hairspray to get the two-inch line of hair to stand up straight and will fluff the remaining hair at the end of the tail. Lisa, a Holstein calf that belongs to Holland’s brother, stood perfectly still as she ran the clippers around the side of the black-and-white cow’s head.
The biggest challenge is keeping them clean.
“You can’t go in there with them being dirty,” she said with a laugh. “You have to get the pitchfork out every time one poops.”
When Holland takes Macey out in the ring with other 4-H Club members, the judge will look at the Jersey’s height and the way her feet look. Holland says she makes sure to have a smile on her face during judging because it draws attention to Macey. Sometimes, the cows get a bit nervous before judging, but Holland says she hasn’t had much trouble. Macey took second place at the Greene County Fair just a few weeks ago.
If Macey places at the Appalachian Fair, Holland could take home some prize money.
“It’s really hard work, but if you love it, it’s worth it,” she said. “We’ve done it for a long time and we like being with our friends and the animals. You get a little bit of prize money and ribbons. It tickles you.”
Jacob Fugate, an 18-year-old senior and FFA member at Morristown East, is also no greenhorn when it comes to showing cattle. He brought five heifers and three cows from F&W Jerseys Farm in Morristown. The Appalachian Fair is one of eight he’ll attend this year to show cattle. Even though it’s tough to stay up all night to keep them clean, Fugate says it’s worth it.
“I like meeting people and making money,” he said with a grin.
Fugate nor Holland get much time to enjoy the other parts of the fair, but what appears to be work is a fun and educational experience for the both of them.
“I love it,” Holland said. “I count down the days until it’s time to show.”
The junior cattle judging will take place today following the Little Britches competition at 1 p.m.