My husband, Craig, and I just returned from a trip to Scotland. Yes, Scotland. I can still hardly believe it’s true.
Last summer, I was honored to receive the Andy Markwart Horizon Award through the American Agricultural Editors’ Association. This award came with a stipend for professional development, which went toward my attendance at the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists 2014 Congress – held this year in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Of course, we saw bagpipes. We were blown away by the picturesque rolling, green hills; and castles around every turn. Pictures truly do not do them justice.
And there were kilts. Oh, yes. There were kilts. Many American men – including Craig – even donned this traditional attire for one formal evening meal. (And you’d better believe I got photo documentation. Just look at the picture.)
But, if you’re involved in the beef cattle industry, you also know the ties Scotland holds with the history of the Aberdeen-Angus breed.
Perhaps one of the greatest highlights was setting foot onto Mains of Tonley – a Scottish Aberdeen-Angus operation that resides on the land where William McCrombie developed the Aberdeen-Angus breed in the early 19th century.
We may now be a Hereford family, but that was pretty spectacular.
Neil Wattie Senior founded Mains of Tonley in 1993. Today, he and his son, Neil, along with grandson, Mark, manage their Aberdeen-Angus herd and have begun to see success in the show ring, exhibiting and capturing championship titles in shows across Scotland.
The cattle we saw throughout the Scottish countryside are a slightly different type than those often pictured at the backdrop in American shows.
But one thing that seemingly transcends oceans and countries – the life of a “show mom.”
While visiting this operation, I had the opportunity to talk with with a lovely woman: Alison Coutts, Neil Senior’s daughter. She and her husband, Gary, have two sons – Callum, 17, and Craig, 12.
Callum showed cattle when he was younger, and Craig is making preparations for his first shows this year.
She says the preparations for the family attending a show are much like those for show moms in America.
“Our handlers wear white coats, pressed shirts and Aberdeen-Angus-printed ties,” Alison explains. “So I must make sure those clothes are ready, as well as making sure the halters are washed. We want them to look smart when they present their cattle.”
And the emotions that come with seeing your child in the ring? Of course, the same.
“I’m quite excited, actually, for Craig to be involved and take part in the cattle business,” Alison says. “I’m proud of him, and it’s a good feeling to know he’ll be proud of himself, too. I think this is a good thing for them to be involved with, rather than playing on an XBoxTM all day.”
Can I get an “amen?”
Cultures and scenery may be a bit different in the U.S. and Scotland. But some things are the same. And the life of a show mom is one such similarity.
Now, if only we can see more American men in kilts.