Great memories made of moments like these
My memory of a blustery wind howling through the Claremont Showground during an ominous Friday morning last October remains vivid.
With a light rain falling and the clouds threatening to unleash a downpour, most of the seating surrounding the venue’s dairy pavilion was understandably empty although the 2019 Perth Royal Show dairy cattle judging competition was about to start.
Despite the inclement conditions, a few families and friends were huddled together and braving the elements to cheer on loved ones who were about to compete.
With the who’s-who of WA’s dairy industry in attendance, I was the anomaly.
“What’s ya name, young fella?” one bloke asked, as sponsor banners banged loudly against the pavilion.
I extended my right hand to introduce myself, as my freezing left mitt struggled to grip a pen and stop the notepad’s pages from fluttering in wild wind.
“Ahh, from the Countryman,” the gentleman, Lyndon Cleggett, said.
While the light rain turned into a downpour, Lyndon explained how he liked to read the various rural publications when he travelled around Australia.
“What’d you do for work?” I asked loudly over the heavy rain falling on the roof above, continuing the small-talk formality.
Lyndon outlined his duties as principal of Brookleigh Stud at Glencoe in South Australia.
When away from the farm, Lyndon said, he attended agricultural shows across the country to judge the dairy cattle events — hence why he was among the crowd of 20 or so punters waiting for the first category to enter the showing ring.
We spoke for about five minutes and then Lyndon said: “I have a job for you”. But before he explained what it was, he walked away and called the first entrants and their beasts into the pavilion to officially start the competition.
The first few dairy cattle classes were judged swiftly, despite the continuing heavy shower.
All of the handlers had done a terrific job to keep their entries calm, given the wind and rain had only seemed to intensify.
With a short break in proceedings, Lyndon walked back towards me with an armful of sashes. “Because you’re here on behalf of the paper, you can present these to the winners of the next class,” he said.
I was surprised at the request, especially after well-known Yarloop dairy farmer Tony Angi and Fremantle Dockers youngster Mitch Crowden — who hails from a South Australian dairy farm — had presented the event’s sashes earlier in the day.
However, I was also overwhelmed to be bestowed the duty.
Once it was my time to shine, I managed to place the sashes right-way up over the cattle that had taken out the top three positions of that particular class.
After I completed the task at hand, without causing a scene or upsetting the cattle, I walked back to my seat.
I was smiling more than the sash recipients.
As I file my last story for Countryman, after almost two years in the role and five years with The West Australian’s regional publications, I recall my many on-farm visits and dealings with agricultural figures fondly.
I’m sure Lyndon’s offer to hand out competition sashes was a small gesture, on his behalf.
However, it is an act that I believe epitomises the mateship and compassion shown across Australian agriculture.
Thank you to everyone, including my colleagues Cally Dupe and Bob Garnant, who have helped along the journey.
It has been a pleasure to share WA agriculture’s stories.
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