Last week was the National Brown Swiss Convention in Coralville, Iowa.
This was an event I was generally looking forward to because it would bring together a giant herd of Brown Swiss. At this point in my life, if I had the money, I’d find a way to make a Brown Swiss herd of my own. They are some of the most curious, gentle creatures I’ve ever come across. They are also some of the most stubborn creatures I’ve come across, but that’s a whole different post.
So, the saga begins in March when our daughter was announced as Iowa Brown Swiss Princess, something she’d wanted for a while. Not coming from a milking background or actually milking at all (our “herd” is three), it didn’t happen last year and she was very disappointed. However, the dairy gods smiled upon us and there you go. One of the responsibilities of the Brown Swiss Princess, attend the conference.
The farmer we gotten our heifers from says he wants to haul our animals down, because at the time, we seriously considered just going, but not to show (there was a youth show). Of course, we say sure, and drama ensues. There’s drama with an ex-girlfriend, her daughter, and this farmer. There’s drama actually getting the damn things down there (farmer really didn’t have the ability to transport them). We found a “ride” for our three girls, and we were off.
All in all, for us non-farmers, it was an ok conference. We didn’t sign up for any tours, so my wife when shopping with her aunt (where we stayed) and much of my time was spent in the barns, which was ok by me.
On problem: heat. Lots and lots of heat. Last week was by far the hottest of the season. Friday and Saturday, the heat index topped out somewhere between 100 and 110 degrees, lead to all of us getting a major case of the crankies! I spent the night in the barns, and managed about 30 minutes of sleep over a 36 hours period, which is typical for show days. I ate terribly (we are Phase Two of the South Beach Diet) and still lost weight.
Our daughter placed well during the showmanship part of the show. She was sixth overall in out of a group of 35, which we saw as a major victory of her. A national show with some pretty great kids on hand, I was very proud of her. Our animals didn’t place well, which we expected. We missed out on the good genetics of our Brown Swiss farmer and we just don’t have the money to be able to buy into this kind of a show. Our animals place bottom third, which is where we thought they’d place. Our daughter was disappointed because simply, she wants to win one time, and it’s just not going to happen. We’ve talked and talked about how she just need to enjoy the animals and not worry about the awards, because we just aren’t going to get them, but it’s tough all the same.
The princess had the opportunity to help with tickets, she went on a dairy tour (saw some really cool stuff and is now debating her career choices), and passed out ribbons at the show. Her being there meant something to the Iowa Brown Swiss Association, though I don’t know what, because they never really said thank you to her. That’s the hard part for me, she’s expected to be certain places, but never is thanked for it. She’s done a good job of firing up her social media and getting the word out about the breed. All in all, she enjoyed the experience (even if my wife and I really did not!).
We got back Saturday night about 5:00 PM, unloaded, and spent Sunday watching Netflix and drinking water! As we reflected, we had ideas, but really, we aren’t farmers, nor milkers, so it really makes no different what we think. Just the truth.
It was awesome to see so many Brown Swiss in one place. I’ve fallen in love with the breed, and hope that if I am blessed with grandchildren, they have the chance to show the Big Brown Cow. I’ll be right there to help, to cheer them on, and to help them realize just how lucky they are to have this opportunity.
I’ll miss the heifers when they are gone. But they won’t ever be forgotten! 🙂