“I applied for the 4-H Earn-A-Calf award, and won!” West Canada Valley, NY ninth-grader, Madesen Spellman says proudly — and then is quick to laughingly add, “Much to my grandfather’s dismay, because he only had Holsteins!”
Madesen, affectionately known as Maddy, is not your typical young farmer. Her ideas are way bigger than that; at 10 years old, Maddy decided to start her own herd of Milking Shorthorns.
A member of the of the Merry Moos 4-H club for over 8 years, she first fell in love with Milking Shorthorns several years ago.
“My friend Willow Simmons had a beautiful Milking Shorthorn and I fell in love with hers and wanted one,” recalls Maddy. The 4-H Earn-A-Calf program provided that opportunity, with a few problems.
“We had a really hard time finding a shorthorn calf because they weren’t very common, and Jennifer Collins — the 4-H Educator — helped us find one from Mr. Wayne Wratten.”
Maddy says she walked into Wratten’s farm and, “immediately found the love of my life! Her name is Grace!”
Maddy reports that Wratten gave her a great deal for that she will always be thankful for.
Grace, born on Jan. 2, 2013, had her first calf, named Gracelyn on March 15, 2015.
“Gracelyn was named after her Mom and my Grandpa,” Maddy remarked.
She has already shown both Grace and Gracelynn at the Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock show and the Herkimer County Fair, and has won numerous awards with both.
“My grandparents urged me to get my own prefix so we came up with ‘Maddys Milking Shorthorns’.” Grace had her second heifer calf, named Gracyn on July 19, 2016.
“Gracelyn had her first calf on March 26, 2017,” Maddy said. “It was a bull calf, but he is too nice to use for beef so I am going to try to sell him for breeding purposes.”
Originally, Maddy says, she considered raising any bull calves and selling them for beef.
In the future, Madesen plans on attending Cobleskill College for Dairy Production Management. She plans to keep on raising and breeding her Milking Shorthorns to enlarge her herd and hopes to provide other 4-H kids with the opportunity to buy her calves and show them, just as she is doing.
Now at 14 years old, Maddy says she enjoys all the time she possible can on the farm. While in school she is a varsity football and basketball cheerleader.
“I am also a JV softball player and I am the secretary of the Merry Moos 4-H club. My club is involved in a lot of community service activities in our area.”
Mentors, Grandmother Kim and Grandfather Lynn, own and manage 450 acres near Newport, NY.
“This is the 2nd generation farming,” says Kim. “Our farm is over 100 years old. Lynn was born and raised on this farm and 18 years ago we bought the farm from Lynn’s parents.”
Salmstead Farm has 110 milking cows and 175 young stock.
“We grow corn and hay,” reports Kim. “We have four daughters and seven grandchildren. Everyone, in some way, is involved with helping on the farm. Our 5 oldest grandchildren all show animals in Cooperstown at the Farmers Museum and the Herkimer County Fair.”
Grace, of Maddy’s Milking Shorthorns, was recently on display at the Farming Your Future, Central NY BOCES event in the animal science zone, at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds, where Maddy says many young folks did not know that cows can grow horns just like bulls.
“It gives me an opportunity to teach other kids about Milking Shorthorns and all dairy cows,” Maddy says.