EDMONTON — Tanya Belsham just about didn’t make it to Farmfair this year.
The family’s truck and tack trailer were totalled when they hit black ice just out of Houston, B.C.
“We almost didn’t get here,” said Belsham.
They found another truck and trailer, reloaded their tack and made it to Edmonton in time for Farmfair International.
It’s a good thing they did because they won the Legends of the Fall with their yearling black angus heifer, HF Thunderbird 1464. The calf was out of the supreme champion bull at last year’s Farmfair.
The top heifer and bull calves from each breed compete for the title of Legend of the Fall and $2,500 in prize money.
The showy black calf was destined for the show ring right from birth, said Belsham of Poplar Meadows Angus near Houston.
“I took so many pictures on my iPhone. She always thought she was special.”
This year, Belsham and her farm manager, Scott Anderson, brought nine head of cattle to Farmfair.
“I have a picture in my mind what I want to breed,” said Belsham.
That snapshot matches the picture in many judges’ minds. Last year, Belsham drove home a Dodge truck after winning supreme champion.
“Every time I get into that little Dodge truck, I grin from ear to ear. I still get goose bumps thinking about last year’s win.”
Mike Chambers’ love of cattle brought him back to the show ring after a number of years away. He won the Legends of the Fall champion bull show with his Simmental calf.
“I thought he was an extremely good calf right from an early age,” said Chambers of Wimborne, Alta.
“This is just awesome.”
Chambers and his wife, Roberta, raised and sold Maine Anjou cattle before BSE was discovered in Canada in 2003. The closing of the U.S. border prompted them to sell their cattle and concentrate on their oilfield supply business.
They returned to the beef business in 2010, but this time with Simmental cattle.
“It’s a passion of mine,” said Chambers.
“It’s truly what I love. It seems crazy, but it’s a holiday to me.”
Chambers raises about 70 calves a year and brought nine head to Farmfair this year, including his main herd sire.
He said the winning bull might be sold at his bull sale in February, either as part share or the entire animal. The family concentrates on selling live cattle rather than embryos and semen.
“I have a hard time selling something unless I know it’s going to work.”