This article was a feature story in our Summer 2020 issue written by Kathleen O’Keefe.
The swiftness of the COVD-19 pandemic and the response to it was a shock to us all. We went from hearing about the virus on the news in January and February to having a nationwide lockdown by mid-March. The uncertainty of regulations and time frames from state to state were confusing for everyone. Imagine then, if you were someone in our industry that had planned months and months for a sale to be held in the spring of 2020. What do you do? Cancel the sale? Move forward? Convert it to an online sale? A number of breeders, sale managers, and breed organizations and clubs asked those questions, and each one took the path they felt was right for their sale.
That’s the situation that young breeders Ryan & Marjorie Rida found themselves in earlier this year as well. For many months, they had planned their 2020 Vision Sale at Ridale to be held on April 25th, 2020 at their beautiful property in Cummington, Massachusetts. They dreamt for it to highlight some of the best that the Ayrshire and the Milking Shorthorn breeds had to offer – the two breeds the couple have loved and labored with, and showed with great success.
As the days grew closer to the sale, they decided to go ahead with it, but to change the format to a ‘live’ virtual auction – meaning the animals would still be lead through the sale ring and auctioned off, but that there would be no crowd in attendance – all viewing and bidding would be through the online platform of Cowbuyer.com. Marjorie remembers that it was a tough decision to make. “We were really disappointed not to have a ‘real’ event. We had worked hard getting our cattle in shape to sell, and a select number of other breeders had given us their best. We were looking forward to hosting people here at the farm and having a real celebration afterwards.”
There’s plenty for Ryan (30) & Marjorie (29) to celebrate right on the home front. In the several years, they’ve been carving out a beautiful operation in western Massachusetts. First, with the purchase of 138 acres, then in 2015, they finished building the pack barn and hay barn. Currently, they are building a second pack barn and their new house is also under construction.
Fittingly, the couple met each other while showing cattle at the Big E Junior Show in 2008. Ryan is a native of the Cummington area and grew up with both Ayrshires and Milking Shorthorns. Marjorie hails from Farmington, Maine as a member of the Hardy family, who are true enthusiasts and supporters of the Ayrshire breed, and well-known for their Hardy Farm prefix.
Ryan attended a technical high school where he studied plumbing. He worked his way through the five years and 10,000 hours it takes to become a journeyman plumber, and now owns his own business, Systems Plumbing. Marjorie graduated from the University of Connecticut with an ag science degree. From there, she spent 3 ½ years at Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co. in South Woodstock, VT, where she was employed as a herdsperson and marketing specialist.
After establishing their own careers, the couple decided it was time to move forward together. After a memorable engagement at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, the couple got married in 2016 and got to work building their Ridale herd.
The attractive Vision 2020 sale catalog had lots descended from their foundation animals. Lots 1-8 were all daughters of Hardy Farm Rio Verify EX-94 4E, a third-generation Excellent cow that has done a ton of winning in the show ring over the years. A five-time All-American nominee in milking form, Verify was the Reserve All-American Aged Cow in 2018 and the HM All-American 100,000 Lb Cow in 2019. Along with her show ring success, Verify represents a special tie between the two human families, as her sire (a Kellogg son from the Hawksfield Bronara family) was bred by Ryan’s brothers and her whole maternal line was bred by Marjorie’s father, Henry. Along her own show ring credentials, Verify is passing along some of those beautiful genetics. Her Regan daughter, Vanity, was the Reserve All-American Spring Calf in 2019, and her Prime granddaughter was nominated All-American 4-Year-Old las year.
Further on in the catalog are several selling out of Hardy Farm Burdette Majestic EX-93 2E, nominated both All-American and All-Canadian as a 4-year-old. Majestic had a Reagan daughter, Ridale Regan Mandy Moore, nominated All-American Summer Yearling in 2019. Majestic is a descendant of Hardy Farm R Command Mollie, a baby calf given to Marjorie as a birthday present when she was three years old. Mollie topped out at GP-84, but then a string of three Very Good cows, then Majestic.
The Milking Shorthorn section of the catalog is kicked off with a good number of lots out of the ‘S’ family at Ridale. The foundation cow, Holcombs Othello Snowstorm EX-91 2E 94-MS, was the first cow that a then 18-year-old Ryan ever purchased. He spotted a 4-year-old cow in the show string of prominent New York Milking Shorthorn breeders, John & Marjorie Kuszlyk. “I think she was the third string 4-year-old for them,” comments Ryan. “But I still had to take out an FSA loan to get the $5,000 to buy her!”
While it may have stretched him pretty thin at the time, it was a savvy buy for a young man. Matings to Mericrest Royalty produced Morning Dew Royal Sara EX-92 93-MS and her full sister, Ridale Royal Sahara EX-91 92-MS, who started winning as a heifer and never stopped. She was the Unanimous All-American Summer Yearling in 2016, and has since been nominated three times as a cow. Several other family members have captured All-American honors, including our cover girl – Ridale Sumthin Special EXP ET VG-88 89-MS, the 2018 Unanimous All-American Junior 2-Year-Old.
Anchoring their Milking Shorthorn show string on the other end is Heavenly Betty EXP EX-94 4E 95-MS. Nominated for All-American each of the last five years, Betty was the 2019 Reserve All-American Lifetime Merit Cow, and the Reserve All-American Aged Cow in 2018. They’re currently marketing semen from her Innisfail Huckleberry son, Ridale Betty’s Blaze EXP, who has already sired some show winners in the Northeast.
With all those COVID-19 ‘speed bumps’, how did the sale go? Well, we all like a happy ending! The Vision 2020 Sale averaged $4,325 on 55 live lots and set some records: highest Ayrshire sale average; highest selling Ayrshire at public auction; 1st & 2nd highest selling Ayrshire heifers at public auction!
The $26,000 high seller, Old-N-Lazy V Madison-ET EX-91 92-MS, a Vicking daughter who was Unanimous All-American Senior 3-Year-Old in 2019 & Unanimous All-American Senior 2-Year-Old in 2018 was purchased by Peter Vail. The whole family is stacked with All-American winners, from her full sister, Old-N-Lazy V Melania-ET VG-89 who was Unanimous All-American Senior 2-Year-Old in 2019 to her EX-94 3E dam, Sharwards Calimero Megan, four-time All-American and once Reserve All-American winner.
Madison was consigned by the Ridas along with their partners, M&M Cattle Company. The sale topper was bred by the Old-N-Lazy partnership of Kurt Wolf and Mike Maier. Quite a number of show winners carry that prefix and Ryan acknowledges their willingness to sell the good ones. “Credit to Kurt Wolf for selling his best stuff and really elevating what was available for others to purchase. He’s been key to increasing the value of high-type Ayrshires as people with other breeds have been turned on to them.”
The high selling heifer at $14,000 was Chaluka Tuxedo Xara-ET, All-Canadian Summer Yearling in 2019 & All-Canadian Summer Calf in 2018, selling as a junior 2-year-old prospect. Ryan’s brother, Andy, who pitches in at the farm and helps at the shows, surprised everyone with his final bid. His wife, Bridget, was leading the heifer in the ring, as Andy laughingly recalls. “She saw me bidding and her jaw dropped. Then she didn’t look at me again because she didn’t want to know!” From four generations of VG & EX dams and out of the famous show cow, Chaluka Nemo Xioli EX-93, Xara calved in early June and looks very promising for the junior 2-year-old class.
Selling for $13,250 as the 2nd high heifer was the aforementioned Ridale Reagan Vanity-ET, the 2019 Reserve All-American Spring Calf out of Verify. Glamourview – Iager & Walton, who have purchased a number of elite Ayrshires in the past couple of years, placed the final bid for Vanity, and she will join their show string as a Spring Yearling for 2020.
The high selling Milking Shorthorn at $7,000 was Ridale Petrones Brandy EXP ET, a summer yearling by Petrone out of Heavenly Betty EXP EX-94 4E. She was purchased by Kurt Wolf of Epworth, IA so it’s quite likely we’ll see her in the show ring this fall.
Sales can have enough stress and drama on their own, without adding the complications of a global pandemic. Ryan & Marjorie were both thrilled with how the sale went and with the final prices, but still have plans to have that in-person celebration in the future. “We’ve kept our foundation cows. We’re going to plan some new crosses and make some more babies,” says Marjorie. “We’d like to have a sale every two or three years. Hopefully, everyone will be able to attend in person at the next one!”