I am just back from spending two weeks in Europe with my wife, a colleague and the Maryland 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Team. If you are a regular reader of this column you might remember that last September the Maryland 4-H Dairy Cattle Judging Team won its 30th national title at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisc. I was privileged to be the coach of the team and because of that victory we qualified to participate in a European tour.
To refresh, the team members were Kaitlyn Corbett of Williamsport, Jessica Stenelle and Hannah Hood from Frederick County and Jason Zimmerman of Montgomery County. We started in Scotland, where we had the opportunity to participate in a judging contest with the Scottish Young Farmers at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh. Unlike in the United States, in Scotland teams are pairs, but that did not deter Jessica and Kaitlyn who finished second in their age division.
We then went to London, stopping to tour a dairy farm in Coventry, England. Ricky Jones and his family run a beautiful dairy where they milk 100 cows. The cows’ diet consists of ryegrass pasture, barley silage, maize (corn) silage and potatoes. Yes, I did say potatoes; they feed cull potatoes as an energy source for their cows.
While in London, we saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and various other sites. We had lunch in the Rose & Crown, a traditional English Pub, and yes I had fish & chips. That evening we went to the theater and saw Disney’s “Lion King” on stage. You know what they say, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
The next morning, we boarded the train for our trip to Paris. We sped toward Paris at speeds up to 187 miph. The French countryside is beautiful. We took in all the sites of Paris concluding our day with an evening cruise on the River Seine. The Eiffel Tower is even more beautiful when adorned with its lights.
Next stop Luxembourg, where the youth had their home stays so they could get a taste of a day in the life of a European. We did stop at Bastogne on the way. This Belgian town is famous for the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. We did see memorials to Gen. Patton and Gen. McAuliffe.
During our stay in Luxembourg we went to their National Show and participated in a judging demonstration. It is the hopes of the Luxembourg Young Farmers that we might inspire their youth to take up judging. Our girls worked hard helping their holstein breeder with their sale cattle at the Luxembourg Summer Classic Sale. The next morning, Jason finished second in the International Showmanship contest. If I understood the announcer, the winner was from Luxembourg and third place was a German.
We finished up our tour in Germany, where we were the guests of the Hauck Family Vineyards and Winery. The family has been growing grapes there for more than 300 years. Now back on American soil, we reflect on all of what we saw.
Jeff Semler is an Extension educator, specializing in agriculture and natural resources, for the University of Maryland Extension. He is based in Washington County. He can be reached at 301-791-1404, ext. 25, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.