From the barnyard to a video screen for 4H competitions

Apr 14, 2020

ROCHESTER — It’s been a wild year and a half for Maizie the Belted Galloway calf and her fellow calf, Mack. They were born in October and November 2018, rejected by their mothers, taken in (or in Mack’s case born into) the Weigel family, won awards in competition, got a few kisses from a principal, and now have had their prime show season interrupted by a pandemic. 

It’s also been a wild year for the Weigels and their Tails N Trails 4-H Club as well, with many of their spring shows moved online and summer fairs uncertain. 

The family also had a third calf, named Olde Post Supernova, born in December. The Olde Post part of the show name comes from their farm name, while the “Supernova” portion is from the fact that she was born on a Friday the 13, under a full moon. The family felt they needed something celestial for the calf, who goes by Nova in everyday life. 

Owen Weigel was appointed to the Massachusetts Beef Team and earned first in his region. 

This spring he has entered two online shows. The shows are larger than the local fairs because so many 4H competitions have moved online. 

Owen’s mother, Melissa Weigel, said “all the kids are chomping at the bit” for another upcoming online fair, the virtual cattle battle. 

Participants submit either photos or video for online competitions. Owen said that video is easier in some ways because “you can do it over if you have mistakes.” At the same time, it’s strange to him “not to be able to see your competition.” 

Though Melissa pointed out that not having to worry about getting a bigger trailer for young Nova to bring her and her mother to a show was nice. 

In the Beef Classic Mack, competing under the show name Olde Post Allhallowtide for the Nov. 1 day when he was born at Olde Post Farm, came in first in class in the “small breed” class. Maizie won “calf champion” in another competition. 

The calves won’t be fully grown until they are 4, but won’t be eligible to compete after age 2, meaning that they will miss much of their prime season if the local fairs this summer are cancelled. 

The Tails N Trails Club that the Weigels are a part of is still meeting by Zoom, but had to cancel a spring field day when they had planned to reach out to other groups.   

Luckily there have also been some benefits to the pandemic, and Weigel said that the online platform Stock Show University has been posting many more video tutorials for young farmers. 

The family is also on hold with a Belted Galloway calf that they planned to adopt from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.