A feature article in our Late Summer 2021 issue written by Julie Ashton.
The last time animals were exhibited on the colored shavings, a young woman and her Guernsey named Trixie took to the stage and walked away with the largest award that a Junior could ever dream of. And this duo hasn’t slowed down over the last two years, gaining even more fans and adding show-winning daughters to their resume. The story of Katie Livingston and Trixie isn’t all roses though, but the team has overcome challenges and is ready for the next chapter of their story.
Glenn and Sheryl Taylor of Cassville, NY, purchased Knapps Regis Trotter-ETV, a bred heifer, from Daniel Thurston at the 2017 NY Spring Guernsey Breeder’s Sale. They were very excited to add Trotter, a full sister to the 3x Unanimous All-American EX-95 Tambourine, to their herd. Their niece Katie Livingtson was also at the sale, and they promised Katie she could show the calf from Trotter if it was a heifer. Thurston Farms Primetime Trixie was born in late October 2017 and Katie was smitten from the start.
Katie, now 17, had showed Guernseys since she was 10, and was excited about adding Trixie to her herd. Trixie was her showmanship animal as a calf, and Katie recalls that she walked perfectly, and their relationship grew from there. “She’s the only milking cow I’ve ever shown,” remarked Katie. “And she’s my favorite cow of all time!”
Katie and Trixie traveled to several county fairs in New York as well as the New York State Fair in 2018. Katie was preparing to show Trixie at the 2019 NY State Fair once again, but unfortunately Trixie miscarried twin calves just prior to the fair. While the family was extremely disappointed, they decided to milk Trixie since she had partially bagged up. The early calving did slow Trixie down a bit, but she made a steady recovery and started making milk. Once she turned the corner, “it was full-steam ahead,” remarked Sheryl.
Good friends and fellow New Yorkers, Kevin and Barb Ziemba, kept tabs on Trixie’s development, predicting that if she could make enough milk, she could compete at Expo. Within weeks, Trixie had developed a great mammary system to go with her frame and she looked the part to show at World Dairy Expo.
Trixie traveled to Madison with Kevin and Barb Ziemba, who had cared for Trixie at the 2018 NY State Fair and other local shows. Katie made the trip to Madison later in the week with her parents, Don and Karen, brother Tim and aunt and uncle, Sheryl and Glenn. While Katie had been showing locally the past 5 years, she had never exhibited at a national show, and she was nervous! However, once she and Trixie hit the show ring, they quickly settled in.
“This heifer that starts the class for us is just lights out,” stated Judge Seth Johnson as Katie and Trixie won the Milking Yearling class. “Wow, she caught our eye right away,” said Judge Johnson during the Intermediate Champion class of the Junior Show. “She’s got the frame that’s ready to roll, she’s got the open rib, and for a fall yearling in milk, check out that rear udder – it’s high, it’s wide – you can just see this cow developing in the future.” Trixie was also named Reserve Intermediate Champion of the Open Show.
“I was shocked even as I was pulled into first in class,” recalled Katie. “It felt like a dream for the weeks after the show and definitely the most memorable days of my life!”
As Katie and Trixie paraded back in the ring for Grand Champion of the Junior Show, the excitement was high. “For Grand Champion of the Junior Show, today, it’s still this yearling in milk,” remarked Judge Johnson. “She’s just such an awesome young cow. We can see her just getting better and better.” It’s no surprise that Trixie was named Unanimous All-American in both the open and junior divisions later that year.
Trixie calved again in August 2020 with a Jaeger heifer. While there were no complications with that, she never seemed to get her “swagger” back, according to Glenn and Sheryl and they suspected she had a floating DA. On September 18, they started a DA surgery at the farm. “Our vet started the surgery on farm, only to realize she could not reach far enough down and around to pull her stomach back. Trixie is a big cow! So, she stitched her back up and called the Cornell Vet School. They agreed to finish the job. We loaded Trixie up, and I headed out on the two-hour trip that afternoon. The masked vets took her in and said, ‘we will call you!’ The team that worked on her were successful and happy to report she was back in her box stall, eating and feeling good later that night. We left her over the weekend for observation and she gained more friends there. We brought her home Monday with a very finely stitched scar on her side and medications for the post-surgery and possible pneumonia. She soon had her swagger, attitude, and appetite back,” recalled Sheryl.
Just one month later, Katie and Trixie returned to the showring, this time at the newly formed Northeast All-Breeds Fall Guernsey Show in West Springfield, MA. And what a triumphant return they had, capturing Intermediate and Grand Champion honors of both the open and junior divisions.
“We met Brian Oster and Cassie Chittenden of Retso through our connection with the Ziembas,” said Sheryl. “Trixie went to their farm after the fall show because they were classifying soon and we were contemplating sending her to Louisville. We also decided a boxstall at Retso was a better fit for Trixie than at our commercial herd of Holsteins and a few Guernseys, but we do miss the daily interactions with her!” Trixie settled in well at Retso and has been thriving there since.
Because 2020 was a year full of uncertainty and limitations, Katie and her family were not able to personally attend Louisville, but Trixie travelled there with the Four Hills crew. This would be the only time that Katie didn’t lead Trixie. Unfortunately, between the short turnaround time of arriving at the show and the Junior Show, and Trixie having a different leadsman, the results weren’t what they hoped for. Despite this, Trixie still was named HM All-American and HM Junior All-American Senior 2-Year-Old in 2020.
They decided to not breed Trixie back for the 2021 show season. She did make trips to the NY Spring Carousel Show and the Northeast All-Breeds Spring Show, once again claiming Grand Champion honors of both the Open and Junior Shows. These will be her only shows for 2021, with the hopes that she will be ready to roll in 2022.
Trixie has been IVF’d successfully and her daughters are turning heads around the country: Heritage Brook LB Trillium-ETV (Beau) was the 2020 All-American Spring Calf and was Junior Champion at the 2021 Ohio State Fair for Hannah Hurst and Elmhurst, OH; Heritage Brook Lat Trinity (Latimer) was Junior Show Junior Champion and Open Show Reserve Junior Champion in New York for Katie and Mason Ziemba; Heritage Brook AP Tinsel-ETV (American Pie) was Junior Show Junior Champion and Open Show HM Junior Champion at the Northeast Spring Show for Hannah Hurst and Zach Johnson; and Heritage Brook LB Triscuit-ETV (Beau), 1st spring calf at Northeast Fall Show and Junior Champion at Katie’s county fair.
“It’s really awesome to see her daughters doing so well,” commented Katie, who exhibited several of her daughters at the county fair, taking home Junior Champion honors.
The family’s vet coined the phrase ‘Team Trixie’ when she made her Expo debut, and it remains so appropriate still. “It has truly been a team effort to keep her in the forefront,” remarked Sheryl. “We greatly appreciate everyone’s assistance and interest in her.” As Trixie may be on a hiatus from the showring the rest of 2021, she’ll certainly still be making headlines. And for a young lady that up until two years ago had never shown on the national stage, the last two years have been more than magical, and a dream come true for Katie.