|Rural Women New Zealand
It’s spring and the time of year when our rural communities - and a few townies – come together for the annual School Calf Day.
Whatever you chose to call them, Calf/Ag/Pet Days are great fun but they don’t just happen by themselves. These events require a great deal of hard work by people, especially women, who volunteer their time toiling away behind the scenes. This year Rural Women New Zealand in the Western Bay of Plenty wants to acknowledge that mahi.
Calf Club events have been a part of the New Zealand landscape since 1911 when the Boys and Girls Agriculture Group first began in Otago. But learning how to care for another living being has been a rite of passage for our rural children for almost 200 years when the first sheep and dairy farms began to appear in the early 1800s.
It feels like almost 200 years ago that I had my first involvement in a Calf Day at the tender age of six. I remember spending months feeding, brushing and practising leading a gorgeous caramel coloured heifer I had named Bambi. I can still picture her enviable long dark lashes and big doe brown eyes that made your heart melt, just like her Disney namesake.
When Calf Club Day dawned and the judge told me to head into the pen with my now considerably larger beast, I went one way and Bambi went the other. Nowadays I applaud strong-willed females who forge their own paths, but I was not a fan that day.
Although my first experience ended in tears, I have fond memories of Calf Club Days and remember they were events the entire community looked forward to.
More recently, I have been able to create lasting memories of Calf Days with my own children. Their experiences also installed in them the responsibility and commitment needed to raise an animal.
Never before did the old cliché of 'not truly appreciating your mother until you become a parent yourself' ring truer than when trying to get a child to go outside on a cold, wet morning to bottle feed an animal (You deserve a medal, Mum).
I also followed in the footsteps of my parents in joining the small group of committed souls who give up hours of their time making sure Calf Day eventuated. Discovering what goes on behind the scenes of an event gives you immense respect for those who have done so before you and those who continue to do so after.
Many members of RWNZ have been part of Calf/Ag/Pet Day organising. Over the following month, WBOP RWNZ will be acknowledging a few of these indispensable women by presenting gift baskets at some of our local rural schools.
To find out the names of women who are making a positive difference in a rural community near you, visit RWNZTauranga on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.