On Friday I went to the 78th Maleny Agricultural Show where there was an opportunity for the locals to show off. There were all the animals you would expect to find on the farm, cooking, handicrafts, cut flowers, farm produce, displays, rides, games, food, entertainment and more. Agricultural Shows are a wonderful meeting place to catch up with friends, take the family and enter exhibits whether this is cattle or cakes to prove you are the best, a perfect show off!
My main interest at the show was in the poultry. I wandered around and observed the different breeds of roosters, pullets and hens. I found one dear little hen in her cage who was all fluffed up, eyes closed as she tried to have a nap. Next thing a couple of roosters would crow and she was rudely awakened from her slumber. This happened three times and I then had to keep walking. This is the very reason I would not exhibit my Princess Chickens; the confinement and disturbance. If I had a ‘show off’ experience with the Princesses at the Show I would have had to engage a Chook Psychologist to deal with their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I had planned to show off the Princess Chickens eggs. There was a category in Miscellaneous Produce and ½ hen eggs could be entered for judging. I had been contemplating this for months and examining the quality of the Princess eggs after I became familiar with judging methods. I found out that freshness, bloom and appearance were the three main areas. Fresh eggs have small air spaces and judges use a ‘candling’ method to determine the freshness. That is, they hold a light behind the egg to judge the egg interior. The egg yolk should not be pale, orange or red. I was pleased to find that the standard was a rich golden yellow, just like the Princesses produce. The bloom comes with the last layer of the egg as it is formed. It protects the egg from bacteria getting in so it is best not to wash an egg, but to maintain its natural shine and protective layer.
The shape of the egg is of utmost importance. The perfect shaped egg is broad, having a large and well rounded dome and greater length than width. The sides should be equal and symmetrical, rounding off to a smaller end, not too pointed. As the eggs are graded the ‘show’ egg should be free from porosity, muscle indentations, lime pimples, bulges and feel smooth all over. With all this information to hand I set up a preliminary judging panel (PJP) including me and my ‘One & Only’ (O&O). We rigorously went through all the elements of the judging criteria and decided that as the Princesses eggs had imperfections it was best not to embarrass the Princesses by going public!
For part of my time at the Show I volunteered at the ‘Busy Needles’ Knitting Group stall. We sold knitted items to raise money for more wool. The group knits for hospitals, aged care etc. When I had a break I wandered off to find who had success with exhibiting their hen’s eggs. As I could not find any I asked one of the officials in the Poultry Pavilion only to be told there were no entries for eggs this year. I thought ‘WHAT’ – no eggs, maybe the Princesses could have done well after all. If they were the only ones to ‘show off’ then I could have accepted a Satin Ribbon on behalf of the Princesses or better still we may have been conferred with the Grand Champion for egg ‘show offs’.
After I got home I did more research on the standards for exterior quality of eggs. This was the area the PJP, being almost expert egg critics, concluded that the Princesses were not quite up to the mark. However for an AA or A grade egg another ‘expert’ said that it is fine for the shell texture to have rough areas and small calcium deposits that do not affect the shape or strength of the egg. That seemed to be the problem with the Princesses eggs; small calcium deposits and small specks or stains. On reflection, did I let the Princess down by not exhibiting their eggs!
I also had the opportunity to enter a Cookery exhibit with my Boiled Fruit Cake but decided not to be a ‘show off’ this year. I have been making this cake for decades so it could have been a strong contender! Never mind, my decision and I let another year and another opportunity slip by. I will just have to be content with the quality of the Princess Eggs and my Boiled Fruit Cake by the feedback I get from others.
What I really liked about the Show was the involvement of children. Many children and young adults entered into the different judging categories. The younger generation are taking a greater interest in the Agricultural Show and this I applaud. Why shouldn’t they compete and ‘show off’. While winning and being recognised is great, participation and being part of a community gives children a sense of belonging over and above learning new skills and learning about the process of being a ‘show off’. Children, like adults gain satisfaction in winning but there is a lesson to be learnt and not everyone can win all the time. We all have to feel okay when we aim for the prize and then someone else walks away with it. Next year I might have to ‘show off’ myself and see whether it ‘pays off’.