Novice takes win at Big E

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Reeve Twitchell walks his 10-month-old Holstein, Paddy, behind his barn on Upper Street in Turner Saturday morning.

TURNER — Every year, the Big E Fair in Springfield, Massachusetts, the largest fair in the Northeast, attracts thousands of agriculture enthusiasts, including seasoned farmers who have learned their trade inside and out.

That’s why it was so impressive when Reeve Twitchell, 13, of Turner won second place in the Open category his first time ever attending the Big E, with his 10-month-old Holstein, Paddy.

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Reeve and Paddy also took first place in the 4-H category for ages 12-19.

Reeve began working with animals about three years ago, encouraged by his father, Matt Twitchell, who grew up on a dairy farm and believed the work would teach Reeve valuable lessons and skills.

So they leased two calves from Betsy Bullard, owner of Brigeem Farms on Upper Street in Turner.

Reeve went to the farm and worked with Paddy and the other calf, 1-year-old Ginger, for two to three hours per week.

Working with the calves and prepping for shows begins in April, so that by the time the first fairs come around in June and July, the calves are ready. The first couple shows of the year tend to be warm-ups, Reeve said.

Getting calves ready for shows essentially involves training them to get used to following their handler, using minimal vocal and physical commands.

“You don’t want the judges to see you pulling or pushing,” Reeve said. “They should just walk with you.”

Training also includes getting the calves used to their leather halters and stopping with their handler, as well as learning how to pose for the judges.

Some cows have an easier time learning this than others, Bullard said. 

“Cows are a lot like people,” Bullard said. “They each have their own personalities.” 

Reeve said Paddy was relatively easy to train, while Ginger was more challenging.

The day of the show at the Big E, Reeve was up at 4 a.m, washing, drying, and grooming, spending two to three hours on Paddy’s haircut alone.

“These 4-H kids get more done before 7 a.m than their friends do all day,” Matt Twitchell said.

Despite the early, long hours and hard work involved in showmanship, Reeve said he plans to keep doing it into adulthood. His dream is to be a farmer, and he wants to one day own his own calves, not lease them.

“I wanted him to be able to enjoy it, because it’s a big commitment,” Matt said. “He’s earned everything he’s been awarded.”

Reeve said he finds it fun, and he’s learned a lot of things — one of them being that hard work pays off.

“I like the idea of putting so much work into something, and then see the final product,” Reeve said.

emarquis@sunmediagroup.net

Reeve Twitchell walks his 10-month-old Holstein, Paddy, behind his barn on Upper Street in Turner Saturday morning.

Reeve Twitchell poses for a photo with his 10-month-old Holstein, Paddy, behind his barn on Upper Street in Turner Saturday morning.

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