How do you become an overnight success in the cattle show ring? Talk to Kat, she's got a knack for it. On their Oswald farm they used to agist horses, but then decided to move onto cattle as a lower maintenance way to keep their abundance of lush green stuff cut short. I have the impression that no matter what she turned her mind to she'd be good at it. In this instance Kat chose to breed Limousine cattle. After a thorough and extensive search for the best breed, including tours of QLD cattle studs (apparently those QLDers are very hospitable, she never had to stay in a hotel, it was just like being part of the family, including being asked to tuck the kids into bed!), she located a breed that met her tough criteria. Temperament for easy handling was top of her list, and if her cattle's reputation is anything to go by, the Limousine are gentle giants (mostly!).
So how do you juz up a cow for the show ring, the bovine beauty pageant? You employ a 'fitter' to fluff your cow (no joke). Apparently the fluffing of legs makes them look more muscly. Then there's makeup and all sorts of fancy shampoos. Kat's first show was nothing less than the Sydney Royal, she came fourth. Quite a feat considering the numbers in a class and the years most people wait to even get a look in for a place. She then went onto win her next Sydney Royal, and Brisbane's the Ecca, and Melbourne's Royal.
Her cattle are highly sought after for breeding and showing, she sells some sight unseen. Their docile nature lends them perfectly to the lessons that Kat provides to children in how to show cattle. There's always a bit of fun such as poor Charlie who fell over and split his pants whilst the obedient heifer stood waiting.
As with anything, there are challenges that offer learning curves. Some of her heifers had overly large calves due to a bad particular line resulting in a loss of cows. Some cows will eat grain only, leaving their hay, resulting in life threatening bloat. They are drenched via a nose tube with dishwasher liquid in oil to burst bubbles of gas in their gut. They now feed hay first to these picky eaters. Cow's will quite often prolapse the uterus during birthing, one instance involved a dead calf, they pushed the uterus back in and the cow recovered. From a commercial point of view she would have been put down, but she was her baby! The steers are assessed as calves at birth for structure and temperament, and assessed in competition for fat score, judges give usable feedback for improving cattle, eg too fat and early bone calcification from too much calcium block added to the diet. Kat does it all for pleasure and as a business, she sets targets which they meet and exceed. Cattle people are a friendly and socialable lot. Kat reckons that if you do your homework anyone can learn and show cattle.
Comfrey is a versatile plant that every garden may benefit from. It's easy to grow in almost any location, sun or shade, sand or clay. Divide annually to propagate. Comfrey balm can be used as a valuable healing salve on unbroken skin. Use to treat bruises, fractures, broken bones, eczema, rashes, arthritis and more. It's known as knit bone for it's powerful healing properties, it's also strongly anti-inflammatory. Michelle demonstrated making comfrey balm with only olive oil, beeswax, vitamin e and dried comfrey.
We helped out Anita with brainstorming her new potatoe growing in bags set up. Her husband Harold had made some great bags from off cuts of poly fabric. In these we heaped mixed soil with compost, and added a sprinkling of vocanic rock dust & blood & bone and hay to feed the soil. In went the potatoes a few cm deep into the soil in a full sun position. Growing potatoes in bags means a bigger harvest, as you simply heap up more material around the stalks as they grow that encourage more spuds. And harvesting is a breeze, simply lift of the bag and sift out the potatoes! Yum!