Saturday, 3 November 2012

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2012 Edition

This year Skip and I attended 'the Royal' on opening day. We saw an advertisement that it was half-price which is what really swayed our decision.

It's easy for us to get there by taking the GO Train all the way to the Exhibition Fairgrounds.
Once there, we go through a systematic process of seeing everything. One of the first things we looked at were the prize-winning fleeces. They will get auctioned off at the end of the Fair next weekend.
Nearby are an assortment of sheep. I think these are Border Leicesters.
This lamb was only a few days old.
We also saw pigs and a sow in a farrowing pen with 11 piglets that were only 4 days old. The farrowing pen is an enclosure where the piglets can safely lie and be nursed by the sow without being in danger of sow overlay (when the sow lies down on top of a piglet). We also saw goats, alpacas, a llama, and various types of cattle.

There are always lots of school groups visiting for the day - mostly from the city so the children can see how the animals are cared for and how they get from the farm to their dinner tables. I sat in on a brief cow-milking demonstration where the process was shown from the washing of the teats (to clean them and stimulate them for milking), connecting the milking 'claw' (the 4 tubes that are attached to the teats) device and starting the machine which has a digital readout. The milking claw is connected to a main pipeline where the milk is drawn away into a big storage container. Every other day a big milk truck comes to the farm to empty the container. The cows are milked 2 to 3 times a day and as it is an enjoyable experience for them (relieving the pressure built up by the milk in their udders), they head right to their assigned stall awaiting being connected to the machine.

On the digital readout is a green light and a display of how much milk is being drawn out. Once the machine senses that the udder has been emptied, a red light goes on and the claw automatically releases and is pulled up into the portable milking device which hangs on an overhead cable. The teats are then dipped by the farmer into an iodine solution to sanitize them and also to prevent bacteria from entering the udder. The milking machine is then unhooked from the pipeline and the overhead wire and moved to the next cow. The whole process takes only 5 - 7 minutes.

It was an excellent, concise presentation (10 minutes tops) for the school children (and me). I appreciated being able to actually see how a cow is milked in the 21st Century.

In the vegetable showing area, a record-breaking pumpkin was also on display, weighing in at 1414.6 lb!
After lunch (pierogies and onions for me and samosas for Skip), we ventured into the retail area. This antique dealer specialized in wooden crates that had been refinished.Skip stood beside one which was selling for $80 and was from my home town.
The Cockshutt tractor holds a soft spot in our hearts. On one one of our first big outings as a couple, we went to an agricultural museum that used to be in Milton, ON and there was a huge festival of Cockshutt tractors.
In case you thought that was a strange place to go on a big date, we also visited a store that sold stitchery supplies that same day. 

I'm always on the alert for fibrey displays and in the Northern Ontario area, found the Meadowview Alpaca Farm in from Bruce Mines, ON. They had some lovely hand-dyed alpaca yarn but I resisted the lure to buy anything.
On our way out, we always walk through the Horse Pavilion. In the ring, these Belgian draft horses were being shown and judged in the 14 - 18 age group (of the humans, that is). We could only imagine how nervous this girl would have been while the judge was looking over her beautiful horse. Going through her head might have been, "Holy crap! I'm at the Royal Winter Fair!".
The last thing we do before exiting the horse building and heading to the GO station just steps away for our train ride home is go to the horse-washing station. It's kinda like a car wash but for horses. There are 6 stalls - 3 on each side of the area,  hoses and lots of warm water, and a big drain in the middle of the floor. The smell of Orvis soap is in the air as these two horses get a good cleaning. The animals really seem to enjoy the rub-down by their handlers and stand patiently to be soaped up, rinsed off and the water 'squeeged' from them in preparation for getting blow dried in or near their assigned stall.
For us, this fair marks the end of the early fall and the beginnings of the chilly winter season. It is a very enjoyable way of spending a country day in The Big City.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Geri! I would love to get to the fleece auction someday even though I need another fleece like I need a big hole in my head LOL! It doesn't look like there is alot of fleeces there really anyway.