*sigh* The last show of the year! Well, for an exhibitor who attends both sets of club shows. Sadly, for a lot of exhibitors the last show was the Wootton Bassett Christmas show last week held by the Southern Hamster Club.
Barnt Green is a new venue for the Midland Hamster Club and replaces the previous Kingswinford show. As the last show of the year, this is also a Christmas show for the Midland members.
I always hitch a lift to shows with fellow exhibitor Vectis and we try to get there fairly early. That usually means getting up on or before 6am but as we had relatively few things to pack and few hamsters to take, it was a much more relaxed affair this weekend.
I only brought Astere, my black eyed white hamster that was born at Vectis. I’ve had a whole week of being woken at 5am by my neighbours new cockerel so I didn’t feel confident that my usually scatty brain could manage too many things this time. It’s funny how I can be very organised when it comes to other people’s lives or needs but so very forgetful when it comes to myself!
This is Astere in his show pen. The pen is designed for dwarf hamsters and is notably different to those used for syrians or roborovski hamsters. All dwarfs and short haired syrians are penned on woodshavings even if it isn’t the substrate you would use at home. I know of a few hamsters (not many but a few nonetheless) who can’t go to shows as the wood shavings cause eye irritations even over the course of just one day. This is one reason I use paper bedding from Fitch.
In addition to the bedding, every hamster needs a piece of veg for moisture and a dog biscuit for food. I use cucumber as it stays wetter for longer and Biscroks are recommended by the clubs as being the lowest in salt out of the dog biscuits generally available. You can buy your own or the club provides them at the show. The veg should be added at home to account for having enough water during the car journey there. We always take extra too. The additions of extras is not allowed, the toilet roll tube was for the journey up and back only. The pens look quite small to newcomers but the hamsters feel safe enough in them to sleep the day away.
Transported in special show pen carriers, the hamsters are quite safe and guarded against injury during the car journey as they could fall and hurt themselves in a cage or carriers could topple over if we brought too many of them. Many exhibitors paint their carriers according to their hamstery colours. Mine are red but Astere is travelling in these as I’ve only him and it saves on car space. The carriers are made to hold either four or six pens and even hold mouse pens. They have a special, removable, wooden ‘divider’ that sits between the two levels so that the hamsters can’t chew the pens above.
Close to Birmingham, Barnt Green is slightly closer than Kingswinford but we still weren’t sure how much we could rely on the directions so we left little to chance and set off just after 7am. We knew there were 183 syrians entered and over 80 dwarfs so we needed to be there on time. I was hoping to be able to see how the sales were set up in the morning and collect the paperwork as I’ll be the official sales manager next year.
The syrians were split between two judges and we all managed to get out of the hall before 6pm. The syrian pens are shown below. As you can see the hamsters are all happily asleep. These guys were judged first and still sleeping come the end of the day. I even got to book steward for judge Andrew Bryan. I thoroughly recommend book or pen stewarding for judges when you first start as you learn a lot about colours and standards that all helps towards breeding.
And the trophies and prize cards set out for the end of the day presentation. We went a bit quick today so we could all leave on time. Prize cards are generally collected straight from the table as you go, trophies, medals and rosettes are handed out by the judge.
In addition to bringing home second place black eyed white chinese and third place in the ‘members points’ class, I also brought these lovely hamsters back:-
At the top is a sable boy called Assam from Bourne Valley Hamsters, the black and the cream are Ceana and Perzik from Wyeside Hamstery. I also have a black girl called Jocasta from Lilliput Hams who is a fidget so I couldn’t grab any non blurry pics of her just yet.
I look forward to 2016 and the Ferndown show. You can find all the details of shows on the National Hamster Council show page.