Soaking Up Some Local Color: The Red Poll Cattle Show!

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Let’s go to a cattle show!  It will be fun and interesting, I promise. Red Poll cattle are the oldest breed of cattle in my region– Suffolk, England. They are popular for not just being gorgeous, but because they are also exceptionally useful– raised for both meat and milk. They are named for their color and for the fact that they are naturally polled, or de-horned.

There was a show a few weeks ago at a local estate, and a friend invited us to come check it out with her. We are always down for a new cultural experience, and I found it especially curious that they were offering barbecue– cattle shows and BBQ sound so distinctly Southern, that I looked forward to seeing the English take on it. The differences were immediately apparent– this was the setting:

The show was very small. Everyone was welcome, but I think the attendees were mainly the families of those who were presenting their animals. It was so fun to see all of these lovely animals all gussied up for the show!

Each cow waited its turn to be shown, and those inside the tent were getting their beauty treatments.

I guess some take three stylists to get ready! One of my favorite things was the way the tails were groomed. Faaan-cy!

I enjoyed watching this young lady gently and meticulously grooming her heifer.

While we were there, we spoke to a man that was showing a heifer for the first time. He has a full-time job working for the county’s veterinary service, but keeps a herd of Red Polls and a large flock of sheep on the side. He said that he sort of inherited his cattle from an 80 year old woman who had been milking 30 of them by hand for years!

And now for the showing part. I haven’t been to any 4H competitions or anything like that. The closest thing I’ve seen is a dog show. This was kind of like that– an owner doing their best to lead their animal around a ring and look like they are in control of their creature.

This wild-looking pair was my favorite.

As much as I enjoyed the seeing the beautiful Red Polls, my favorite subjects were the judges themselves. They took their jobs very seriously, and were so very quintessentially English.
After being walked around the ring a few times, the contestants were lined up and inspected.
Belly scratches were administered to patient beasts.
And then there was this, which made me giggle.
Ribbons were awarded, people clapped, and then the contestants were lead out of the ring, to be rewarded with something to eat.
As for the barbecue… It wasn’t a big part of the event– there was some meat being grilled, but not nearly as enticing as American Southern-style barbecue might have been. We went for a traditional Sunday Roast at the restaurant on site instead. All in all, it was fun, and I enjoyed the fact that it was a small show– a low-key experience of something very English.

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9 Responses to Soaking Up Some Local Color: The Red Poll Cattle Show!

  1. Caterina B May 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    I agree, that sounds like just my kind of fun. Low key, no enormous crowds, beautiful animals, green surroundings….and then a good lunch.
    How can they be SO civilized there in that green and fair isle?
    Those are wonderful looking cattle. I don’t know if I had raised one and cared for it that I could send it away to become packages of delicious dinners!
    You are having great experiences there and it’s super for Amelia, too.

    • Ariana Mullins May 17, 2013 at 10:08 am #

      Ah, yes– so very civilized! There are lots of stereotypes about the English that I didn’t think could possibly be true, but many really are. A whole post on that someday… And I do love that Amelia is so game for these kinds of things– how nice to have a small person that’s actually interested!

  2. Britt May 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    I always love stopping by and reading about your adventures Ariana… so fun! 🙂 Love your blog, my dear!

  3. Susan Gaines May 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    My maternal grandmother fussed when Mom wanted to name me Susie complaining, “That’s what people name their cows!” I’d be proud to have a gorgeous cow named Susie. LOL

    • Ariana Mullins May 17, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      I didn’t catch any of the names, though now I’m really curious! Yes, these were so beautiful, all the Daisies, Maybells, Susies and Bessies should be honored. 🙂

  4. Hazel May 17, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I love County shows. We always go to the Royal Berkshire Show and make for the animal area first. I threaten to smuggle out a goat or two, but haven’t made it yet!

  5. Julia Morrill May 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

    I just recently found your blog and this is a great article to have started with. We have a beautiful Jersey about to freshen for the first time and we love her like crazy. It’s so fun to see all your pictures of other people (half way around the world) enjoying their cattle as well. Thanks for sharing.
    Silk Creek Farm
    Cottage Grove, OR

  6. Anonymous May 21, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    What a lovely article, I was unable to go to this show so this was nice to see my friends enjoying them selves and hopefully entertaining you as well. Just one point in your narrative, Red polls are naturally polled or hornless (not de-horned ) which is something different.

    once again thanks for the post.


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