It’s been a topsy turvy farming year across the UK, with a savage and trying end to winter, quickly followed for almost all of us, a frazzled scorching summer. I note the weather had changed by the time the summer tour visited Cumbria –see Emma’s report below- but at least it made the grass grow. Still, many fodder crops were below expectations, and straw bills have made us wince.
And then Brexit looms large, with so many unknown changes likely coming with it. At least noises from Westminster suggest low intensity/conservation grazing farming which the Riggits suit might be in favour.
I can only hope that the coming winter months are kind, and that everyone has enough fodder to see them through, and that whatever Brexit brings, we can all keep enjoying grazing our very special cattle.
The Society would like to offer our sincere thanks to outgoing President Neil Alsop for his magisterial tenure and long-time support of the Riggit Galloway Cattle Society. Mind Neil, you’re not off the hook yet, we’ll still hope to see you rocking up at meetings, and continue to offer us the benefit of your abundant wit and wisdom!
The Society welcomes into the Presidential role renowned long time Riggit and Belt breeder Mrs Anne Bell, who some of you may have come across. We hope Mrs Bell’s term as President will offer her some reward and enjoyment now she has retired from Riggit breeding.
Interestingly, the first thing to report is that President Anne Bell has been seen out purchasing Riggit bred heifers again, suggesting there might be some more Clifton prefixed animals. You can’t keep a good Riggit breeder down!
There have also been a flurry of new members through the year, including Robbie Galloway in Doune, in Scotland, who has waded straight in buying genetics with Stonehouse, Two Mills, and Clifton prefixes.
Meanwhile, in Suffolk, Jeremy Perkins has helped new members Rebecca and Stuart Mayhew, Bungay to start a herd with Twomills and Stonehouse beasts.
Stock bulls have been moving between members again as well.
Jeremy Perkins and the Richardsons have done a swap, with Hatherland Finlay heading South, and solid red Rufus of Hindhope going back North. Meanwhile Jenny Willis near Kendal has secured Stonehouse Greenfinch from the Richardsons.
On the Welsh hills near Rhayader, Mark Jones had been using a Sherberton sire (Jeremy Perkins much loved first stock bull, ‘Reiver’) for several years on a mixed herd of hill cows. Sufficiently impressed with the results, he has now secured the striking Amal bull, Grasshopper, from James Taylor on Exmoor.
Still in Wales, Sam Williams of Gwynedd has started a new herd, securing stock from Jeremy and the Richardsons.
And in Suffolk, RGCS Vice Chair Jeremy Perkins has taken it upon himself to start a herd of Belts alongside his Riggit herd. Obviously, he’ll have to be mercilessly ribbed about this at the winter meeting, so delegates are asked to start thinking up suitable quips.
And last but not least, we have a new associate member in Ulrike Kaufhold, from Newton Stewart.
So to all our new members a warm welcome to the friendliest cattle Society in Christendom, and best of luck to those who’ve brought fresh stock in. There are worse hobbies to have!
2018 Summer Jamboree
This year The Richardson’s from Stonehouse Herd, Cumbria played host in the Dales and Lakes.
Once the official bit was done at the Crooklands Hotel we visited Stan and Margaret Richardson’s home at High Row to begin the tour of the Stonehouse Herd including Belties, Riggits, Whitebred Shorthorns, Blondes and Blue Albions!
We also paid a visit to local sculptor Andy Kay. The weather wasn’t kind but it didn’t dampen the spirits especially when we were all welcomed into the home for afternoon tea!
The next day concluded the tour of Stonehouse Herd at Stonehouse Farm itself, the home of William, Emma and Edward Richardson. In the afternoon we visited the Blue Albion herd near Windermere and met up with Ruth Dalton from the RBST who took us all back to her small holding, where she and fellow riggit breeder Jenny Willis provided us with a tasty supper.
Our third and final day saw us visit John Atkinson and Maria Zeb Benjiman of Nibthwaite, Consiton. A tour of the nature reserve John grazes followed by lunch back at the farm in the newly converted shippon where Maria has her soap business was a real treat. It didn’t end there......our last stop was down the road with Jon and Jo Watson at Yew Tree Farm where we visited some of Jon’s herd up at Tarn Hows, saw his butchery business back home and then had tea and cake in their cafe!
Yet another successful jamboree where like-minded people and good friends, get together and enjoy cattle, scenery, eating and drinking!
Special mention must go to our in house photographer Jeremy Perkins who took hundreds of photos during the event. Here’s to next year wherever it may take us.....
Issue number 4 is nearing completion, and should be available for the next meeting.
Anne’s Big Trip Down Under
Flying the flag at the World Galloway Congress in Australia, our President Anne Bell made a cosmic trip, visiting various antipodean breeders, shows, events and jollies. As well as impeccably attending her ambassadorial duties, Anne was able to visit breeders who’ve been using semen from her outstanding Belt bull Clifton Hercules, which must have been a special experience for Anne.
It should be added that her Australian guide/chauffeur/baggage carrier and general helpmate was our old friend Shane Smethers, of Romani Galloways. Like many of his countrymen, Shane has suffered terrible drought conditions recently, although we hear things have eased just lately. Thank you Shane for looking after Anne.
There hasn’t been a big lot of showing news during 2018. Jeremy Perkins has made his mark in East Anglia, with help from Cliff and Gemma Bounds, he took out his smart White cow and calf at the South Suffolk, Hadleigh and Terling one day shows. They lifted best ‘Native Cow’ at Terling. And young Freddie won fourth and third in Young Handler classes South Suffolk and Terling.
The normally irrepressible Alison Bunning has been unwell through the summer – although she assures us she’s back on form now- but she wasn’t able to get her cattle out as much as she would’ve liked. However, with the help of the now very experienced show team (Cliff and Gemma as well as Alison Geen), Riggits Craig Dougal and Hatherland Hestia did well at Bath and West, The Royal Three Counties and Mid Devon shows.
As it happens, Registration Secretary Alison Geen has been awarded the Hatherland Trophy this year. This was in recognition of her masterly work with the Riggit registration software - with a not overly intuitive system for registering calves and issuing certificates. The Bunnings felt Alison's tireless behind-the-scenes work for the society deserved recognition.
It then came as a big surprise at the Belted Galloway annual dinner for the two Alisons to be jointly awarded The Miss Flora Stuart Trophy, for their work promoting Belts on the Southern show circuit. They were ‘quite pleased’.
As most of you will know, the grand old dam of our herdbook has finally left us. Clifton Hawthorn arrived unexpectedly in April of 2000, to two registered Whites belonging to Anne Bell in Dumfries. At the time, there were only a handful of Riggits in the UK, many unaware of each other.
With encouragement from the late Miss Flora Stuart, Mrs Bell raised this striking red Riggit, going on to cross her with various solid colour Galloways. By the time we came together as a group, 2 young marked bulls were on the ground, wanting create a dynasty. Travelling the length of the country, they were run with females from both the original Riggit nucleus in SW Scotland, of Park, Kyle and Mochrum origin, and with Galloway females brought in to bring fresh blood. The bulls, and Hawthorns subsequent offspring, started the expansion and rebirth of the Riggits we have lately seen.
Hawthorn, meanwhile, carried on doing what she did best, bringing forth a fresh strapping calf each spring. She was never a pet, and wanted little to do with us puny humans. I can see her now, proudly sat on a mound in the middle of the field below Clifton yard, very quietly in charge of ‘all she surveyed’.
Eventually, Anne decided that warmer climes would probably suit Hawthorn better in her teens, and allowed her to travel south to Mrs Alison Bunning in Devon. Here, Hawthorn continued to raise thumping good calves, right up until her last summer. She remained the self-possessed magnificent cow we all remember. Below is the picture of her with her newborn calf Firethorn. As a photograph, it must have had more influence than almost any I’ve ever seen. It surely won your secretary over.
The winter meeting is provisionally set for the usual Wednesday in February, at our regular Midlands venue. Arrangements to be confirmed, but mark your diary for the 13th February 2019