For years Jill Beattie plagued her father to buy her a Jersey calf, and five years ago her feminine persuasion paid off when Dad arrived home with Throne Beautiful Blossom in tow.
Now Jill has 11 Jerseys and a box full of trophies to prove her success. Her prize award is the gold medal presented by Princess Margaret in 1967 for the RUAS centenary.
Throne Hill Blossom has won 16 championships and has become so famous that people send her cards of congratulations!
Jill lives with her parents at the Hill Drumbeg, a few miles outside Lisburn. She teaches at Lisnagarvey Secondary School for boys and her pupils are just as crazy about animals as she is.
“In school my classroom has two tortoises, two guinea pigs, one hamster and we used to have 21 mice, but we had to get rid of them. Oh, and there’s also a budgie or two.”
I asked Jill if she went to school in a trailer to transport the animals backwards and forwards. “No,” she replied, “I’ve got a very understanding friend who gives us all a lift!
“Sick animals are my speciality and I’m on call for giving medical treatment when owners have something wrong with their pets.”
Jill’s grandfather used to show Jerseys and her father had a few but sold them when she was about three years old.
Why Jerseys? “Well, I think they are a ladies’ animal and they are so easy to manage so I can train them myself. But I’ve had my ribs damaged once or twice during a lively training session!”
Training takes up a lot of Jill’s time. From Christmas on she will spend about two hours a night brushing the Jerseys and then there is a job of training them to walk “so that they don’t make a fool of me in the ring”.
When a calf is just four months old Jill will start taking it out “for a walk” a few times a week.
She is most anxious to stamp out the idea that Jerseys are only good as family pets. “I would like to see them having more commercial value and certainly this is being proved by the Ormeau Bakery farms.
Jill’s terrific success with Jersey breeding must be attributed to the fact that she works with them from the minute they are born and thinks nothing of sitting up all night to see that they are safe and sound. The latest calf is called Windways Superdocious – a topical Olympic touch.
As a committee member of the Jersey Cattle Society she has been landed with the job of organising the annual dinner to be held next May at Greenan Lodge. She also belongs to Hillhall Farmers’ Union and as an ex-head girl of Methodist College she is a member of the Past Pupils Association.