Monday, November 30, 2009

Gay's Magnificent Tributes to Clive

- Linda Jaquet -

Gay van Hasselt has yet again pulled off a remarkable feat. Just eight months after the untimely death of her husband, Gay, who admits that she knew very little about farming angora goats at that time, has walked off with six prestigious awards for her angora goats at the inaugural International Mohair Summit in Graaff Reinet at the beginning of November.

Gay, who boasts numerous local and international awards for her cheeses and Guernsey cattle, lifted the South African Junior Champion Medium Ewe and the Reserve Junior Champion Fine Ewe trophies at the South African Mohair Championships held at the Summit. She also was in the running for the Supreme Animal trophy and was placed in four other classes. She proudly noted that the Supreme Animal award was won by a ram bred by the Grootfontein Agricultural College in Middelburg out of goats from Clive’s stud.

As if that was not enough, the first three prizes in the flock competition were won by goats bred from rams that were also bred by Clive. “That so many of the winning goats were bred from Clive’s goats is a testimony to what he achieved in the mohair industry,” Gay told the Friend. “It was a feat to get to Graaff Reinet but I needed to be there. And winning has motivated me to continue Clive’s legacy.”

Gay’s modesty masks the hard work and intensity she has put into learning all about managing an angora goat stud. “As the only qualified woman judge in South Africa, I understand what qualities and standards to look for in goats and mohair, but I was never involved in shearing, dosing, mating, inoculation and veldt management, let alone the selling and other administrative decisions.”

“Clive was so in tune with nature, the animals and their needs. He even researched and advised me on the genetics of my Guernsey herd.” Gay said. Gay also had to take over the day-to-day management of their farms, sorting out fencing, machinery and broken windmills, things that she took for granted. “It has been a steep learning curve,” she says with a wry smile. “And I’ve had tremendous support from friends, especially Jan Venter, who shared Clive’s views.” She is determined that nothing will get her down and that empowering her staff and developing their skills is the best way to manage the angora operation.

One doubting Thomas has had to apologise to Gay for predicting that she would not be able to keep on both the mohair growing and her renowned Gay’s Dairy. “I am so proud of how well the Dairy staff is running things while I have had to concentrate on other areas. They are a great team.” Would she ever consider returning to public life? Gay ponders this and says that maybe one day when her son, Jordi, takes over the farm and she has the time, it could certainly be a possibility.

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