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Richard Caverly (award)No one is ever truly prepared for massive peer recognition such as that experienced by Richard Caverly when his name was announced at the 2013 recipient of the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award at The 47th World Dairy Expo. (Read more: Maine Native Wins Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award)  It was obvious that Richard was deeply moved. “This honor to me is so humbling.  The generation I competed with is an amazing group!  There is no way to compare yourself to the likes of Mark Reuth, Joel Kietzman, Ken McEvoy, Paul Petriffer, Scott Hussey, Barrie Potter and the list goes on!  (Read more: Charlie McEvoy: As Good as Gold)  This is a generation who competed with dedication and passion!  They were not at the show to try to sell you their cow, they were there to win, and every cow was special to them!  This generation learned from the generation before them and learned early how to do it all.  They are specialists, only they specialized in every aspect of the show.  The wheelbarrow is as familiar to them as a pair of clippers.” Richard sums up his admiration with this unforgettable phrase.


“They would make a hummingbird look like it had no work ethic!”

Now that’s a picture to keep in your mind’s eye from now on, whenever you think of those men and women who have the perfect touch when it comes to working with cattle.  The ability to lift each animal they are focused on to a whole new level.  As Richard Caverly heard the applause which signified that he had earned a special place among dairy industry peers, we wonder which came first for him– the passion? Or the perfection?  Richard himself would humbly divert the attention and tell you that he owes most to the people themselves– his wife, family, friends, dairy co-workers and mentors.

Caverly’s Love Cows and Produce Champions

Richard’s passion lifelong passion for cows began young and began at home. “My start with cattle came at an early age, as my father “E.C.”, along with his two brothers Frank and “Pudge”, were owners of Caverly Farms in Clinton, Maine.  They started their Ayrshire herd as a 4-H project that was their own responsibility, as their father was the head of the highway commission and constantly “On the road”!  They received help from my great Uncle Edgar – my wife Beverly’s Deer Hill herd resides on his farm today.  The brothers bred and developed many All-American and All Canadian cattle, including the a Royal Junior Champion in the ‘60’s and 1978 Madison Grand Champion and Reserve Junior Champions.  The farm is unique in that along with these dairy champions my cousins have had National Champion with their Beef Shorthorn cattle as well.” Richard appreciates these strong family ties. “I am blessed with amazing family support, all the way from my Uncle Frank to my youngest sister, Leah.” He then zeroes in on the one who means so much to him.

“Of everyone in my life, my wife Beverly Donovan is my biggest hero.”

It isn’t surprising that Richard and Beverly share a common vision for what they believe in. He proudly identifies the strengths of his soul mate.  “Her passion for success and her dedication to making sure her animals get their due is unmatched!  Commitment should be her middle name as she truly puts the Ladies of Deer Hill at the top of her life.  She is thankful for those who have helped her, and she is free with her help to others.”

Picking a Winner – “It Starts with Seeing the Potential”

When someone becomes exceptional at what they do, we want to credit it to some extra special gene that propels their performance. Laying no claim to special powers Richard feels success is simply a process. “For me, I enjoy watching an animal reach her potential. You need to identify what you can do to help her reach it. Then it is very special to watch a cow rise above and get to the level that you envisioned.  There is an extreme amount of trust given to any individual blessed with the care of an animal.  Most important is the trust of the animal. It takes a lot of dedication to properly care for and handle them.  I have many tired friends who share the passion; their dedication wakes them up on cold damp mornings and it is their commitment that makes them stand out in such a demanding industry!”

Richard’s Role Models “They believe vacation is a place where they can take their animals!”

Richard has learned from those he admires. “My Uncle Frank at 72 is still the hardest worker I have ever known along with the biggest supporter of my endeavors!  Craig Hawksley the breeder of Sweet Pepper Black Francesca is a man I idolized as a kid.  Craig is perhaps one of the most under-the-radar people I know as his passion for breeding is unmatched!”

Richard’s Dairy Tale “Follow the Bread Crumbs

The stories of those who have led Richard on his journey are many and important to him.  “Steve Briggs and his family developed a friendship with my family before my time. Then they trusted me when I was young, helping me every step along the way.  Steve has the “Hansel and Gretel” approach as he feeds you one bread crumb of knowledge at a time yet allows you to learn so much through patience and dedication. “Richard has been accompanied by fine dairy teachers and teammates too. “Ernest Kueffner and Terri Packard are the most attention-to-detail, micro-managing team that I know!  Rick Allyn – I remember when we were kids and he put up a topline on an Ayrshire yearling heifer I held for him. That was a thousand heifers ago for him! Ralph Gushee went to shows with my Uncle Pudge throughout North America and luckily he took me on many trips with him throughout life!  Jim Strout is a very dear friend who along with son Jamie and friend Wayne Schofield have taken countless hours and invested them on the road and at home with the Deer Hill ladies as well.”

When Talking Cows, Every Word from Nabholz Counts!”

Perhaps the secret to Richard’s success not only has to do with how hard he works at his craft but at how hard he listens and learns from those around him.  He appreciates even the smallest daily input. “Bill Taylor is always good for an early morning text to check on me while he is mixing feed.” and values words from his heroes.  “Norman Nabholz, with his wisdom and intellect, five words can inspire!” (Read more: HALTER, PEN and GAVEL. That’s Just the Norm) Steve White and Mike Duckett took time from their own endeavors to help with Francesca.  David Wallace, who shared a friendship with my family, allowed me into his own family and always encouraged me.”  Some of Richard’s mentors were the silent type. “Gary Bowers is perhaps the quietest achiever in the industry.” No matter how they have shared their expertise with Richard, he is convinced that they also share a special skill. “All of these people get 26 hours out of a 24 hour day and take advantage of all 8760 hours a year gives you! “ Above and beyond that they have inspired Richard to the realization that “The friends you make along the way truly are always priceless!”

The Caverly Cavalcade of Firsts!

With justifiable pride this Maine native looks back on dairy cattle that he has sent to bask in national and international spotlights. “Glenamore Gold Prize makes me smile even today. So many times I was seen as “The guy who clips Prize”.  She had about as much hair as an eel, yet her success made people think I had magic clipper blades!” And the list goes on. “Oak Ridge Bruis Helga she was the first cow to have an Allen Hetts Memorial Trophy come to Maine.  Moy-Ayr Bell Beladina at 97.1 is North America’s highest classified cow ever.  This massive cow spent countless hours being paraded around by my cousin Vanessa who barely came to her knees.” His hard work earned him some fantastic memories. “Nadine’s first championship while still owned by Potwell is something I shall never forget. She made Peter Stern proud being named Supreme in Ohio and later I would work with her again with Patrice Simard at World Dairy Expo – that cow made two good friends proud!”

Richard’s Recollections – The Stuff Legends are Made of!  

There have been times when this behind-the-scenes star maker is thankful for that old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words.  One of Richard’s most awesome experiences has been preserved for posterity. “Ashlyn, Tobi, and Delilah were part of the US tandem that took the Royal by storm and Han Hopman took a priceless photo of the three with Legends Dyment, Frasier, and Brown on the straps and Empey making his final decision!” (Read more: Han Hopman: Shooting Straight at Holstein International)  For Richard, that was the shot of shots and goes into Caverly history along with this story of international success that he had a part in making. “I’ll never forget Butch Crack on the strap of Crackholm CV Roview the 2x Brasillian National Champion for the Morro Aguido herd of Claudio Mente.” And the love list goes on. “Veronica and Melanie. One trip to Ontario and two legends are acquired.”

Iconic photo by Han Hopman of Ashlyn, Tobi, and Delilah.  Three cows Richard had the pleasure of working with in his career.

Iconic photo by Han Hopman of Ashlyn, Tobi, and Delilah. Three cows Richard had the pleasure of working with in his career.

Sweet Talk. Bitter Sweet Memories.

Whenever stories are told — and there will be many, many of them — Richards thoughts will always turn to one particular cow . “Of course that is  Sweet Pepper Black Francesca, four consecutive years as National Champion to her name!” Once again it goes beyond the winning. “Most important of all Francesca made the dreams of so many people I love come true.  Francesca and Beverly showed the world that no matter who you are, or where you come from, with passion and dedication you too can achieve your dreams!”  (Read more: The Magic of Francesca)

“The Passion Too Strong to Resist!”

The 23rd Duncan Mackenzie Award winner is philosophical about the future. “Countless things change in life.   New opportunities arise.   Great things from the past remain just that, in the past.  Each generation finds its own way eventually, as it is the job of the preceding generation to help with the progress of the next.” And helping with the next generation is where Richard is focusing his talents next. “The decision has been made to work with George and Michael Liberty developing the Juniper Elite Holsteins, while continuing with wife Beverly and her Deer Hill Ayrshires as well.  George is an enthusiastic young man at the age of 19 with a dream and passion for the Holstein industry driven to take his father’s love for Juniper Farm to high levels.  It means leaving a job working with a wonderful family the Flood’s who I shall miss, yet the opportunity to work with great genetics both Ayrshire and Holstein is a passion too strong to resist.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

The dairy industry moves forward with those like Richard Caverly who can inspire each of us with his passion, perfection, persistence and hard work. To Richard we say, “Well done!” and thanks for sharing the spotlight with all those you care about. They are a special part of your story. We at the Bullvine and your friends, family and hummingbirds salute you as you take a well-deserved place beside the exceptional examples of dairy industry character, sportsmanship, ability and endeavor exemplified by the Klussendorf-Mackenzie Award. Congratulations Richard Caverly!

All the best for all your days!!!”

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We all look forward to those times in life when all the pieces come together.  That is exactly what is happening for Dusty Schirm who resides in Chebanse Illinois with his wife Nicole and son Wyatt, awaiting the arrival of their second son due in June.  Dusty is the Show Manager at Butlerview Farm where he tells us he feels fortunate to work with some of the top show cattle and most sought after genetics. (Read more: Exciting Times for Butlerview) “I spend the vast majority of my time working with Joe Price and our crew with the show cattle, preparing everything for the upcoming show season.” This life he loves started at home for Dusty.

dusty family

In His Footsteps

Dusty has always had a keen eye for cows and people and gives credit to his father, Larry Schirm. “The biggest influence in my life has always been my dad. He is a man I have respected as long as I can remember.  He has always been sought after to judge the greatest shows in the world and is someone everyone always enjoys.  Mike Heath is someone who has helped me along with every aspect of learning cattle.  When I was first starting out I would spend weeks with him touring around looking at cattle and trying to learn how to see them in the rough just like he does.  He has also been one of the toughest critics on me and never afraid to push me to be better.”

Dusty’s First Top Model

Dusty’s father and Grandpa both contributed to the star maker he would become.  He looks back fondly, “My start in cattle started in Junior Jersey shows.  Both of my grandparents were Jersey breeders and the passion for not only dairy cattle but the show ring started at a young age.  When I was 8 my grandpa Schirm let me pick out a calf to start my own cow family with and to show that year.  I spotted my calf.  She was a broken color Jersey with quite a bit of white on her and I named her Dusty’s MX Butterscotch and she was a March calf.  Little did I know she would go on to be very successful the following year and be named Jr Champion at all the national shows (World Dairy Expo, Harrisburg, Louisville) and that was when I was hooked!”

dusty clippingLearning the Saw-Dusty Trail

Some people have a natural talent for bringing out the best in dairy cattle.  Dusty is modest and prefers to give credit to others.  “I first started fitting around the age of 16 and was very fortunate to have some great teachers.  Starting out with Terry Rawn and Steve Deam.  Once I turned 18 I worked with Delbert Yoder for the first year and learned many valuable tools.  After that I was fortunate to work along with all the great fitters, Paulo, Roger Turner, Mike Heath, Joel Kietzman and Mark Rueth.”  He continues to study these talents.

Roadways, Roses and Runways

For the observer, fitters are the magic makers of the show scene.  We rarely consider what hard work that must be.  Dusty explains, “For me the hardest challenge in being a fitter was the lifestyle I lived.  I would spend 320 plus days a year on the road never having much free time and when I did have some time off I would usually spend that looking for the next great one on the road.  It is a wear and tear business and not for everyone.  There are many highs and lows that also come with being a fitter and a lot of scrutiny win or lose!”  Dusty has learned to make it work.

Learning from the Topliners!

Being at the top of your chosen career is never easy but Dusty has advice to those who would follow the fitters dream, “Starting out is not as tough as one might think. There are many great people in this business that will give anyone a chance.  My advice is when you get an opportunity, take full advantage of the people you are surrounded by.  The reason you are working with those individuals is because they have the formula for success.  Take what they do and apply it to your own goals.”

dusty phoneFrom Heads and Tails to Setting Sales

Looking back Dusty’s career path is a straight line from show string to sales string but thinks it has more serendipity (he encouraged the Bullvine to use big words).  “Last year was my first sale on my own.  It is a funny story how I got pushed into doing one though.  Mike Heath always had a very successful Spring Valley Jersey Sale every other year and last year would have been time for him to do another sale.  When he told me he wasn’t going to do one I thought well, do you think I could do one.  He more or less said yep you are doing one and that was it.  Following in his footsteps was not an easy task because his success with his sales has always been top level.  Mike was great though with helping me through all the steps of having my own sale and with his help and many others we had a very successful sale.”  A little serendipity.  A lot of hard work.

Happy Talk is the Measure of Success

Everybody measures success differently.  For Dusty Schirm he likes to have people talking about him. “Success for me is getting calls from all the consignors that let me know they saw their animal win at a show or they just talked to the buyer of the animal who wants to come to the farm to purchase another one or to see the animal’s cow family.  That for me is how I measure success from a sale when seller and buyer are happy and say, “Thank you!”

Dusty Follows the Stars from Runway to Retail

Over the course of his “hands-on” career, Dusty has been side-by-side with many great cows.  As always, cow-men find it hard to pick out favorites.  “There are so many I have loved to be part of.  From Jerian Sterling Mason, Dupasquier Cousteau Mamie, Friendly-Acres Linjet Murphy, Co-Vista Airliner Sarah, SavageLeigh Linjet Joy, Harvue Roy Frosty to current stars such as Cookview Goldwyn Monique, Silvermaple Damion Camomile  and R-E-W Happy Go Lucky.  I have been so fortunate to be associated with these individuals over my short career.  But I would have to say my favorite all time was JIF Little Minnie.  I bought Little Minnie as a 3yr old many moons ago in an old tie stall barn before she was popular and she has now gone on to be such a marquee cow in the Jersey breed.”

JIF Little Minnie EX-96 4E All-Canadian Mature Cow 2002 & 2004 All-Canadian Champion Cow 2002

JIF Little Minnie EX-96 4E
All-Canadian Mature Cow 2002 & 2004
All-Canadian Champion Cow 2002

Making Change when Shift Happens

For Dusty the biggest change he has witnessed in his career has happened in the marketplace.  “The value of show cattle is increasing to extremely high ends at the top and losing some of the value for the state show and regional type of cattle.  It used to be if you had a real nice cow with a great pedigree that could win or compete at state show levels, she would be worth $7500-$15000.  Though it’s great to see the value on the greatest show cattle in the world at an all time high, it’s sad to see that the markets for smaller homebred herds to market their individuals are losing their value.”  This brings Dusty to face the future with a forecast.

Survival of the Fittest

Not one to mince words, Dusty looks ahead with a clear eye.  “The number one change ahead for my generation is survival.  This means that milking cows will probably not cut it to raise a family so you must find a niche market to provide more income to support your love for dairy cattle.  Also we must learn the art of mating cattle to achieve our personal goals.  Taking the time to study pedigrees that would be the ideal cross on a cow to make the next great one.  It seems more and more we use the “HOT” sire, which is ok for some matings, but we really need to learn about cow families and thinking outside the box.  Some of the best cattle ever have been as a result from someone doing something no one else would have!”

dusty and WyattFortunes, Favorites and Fatherhood!

Dusty says he is fortunate to have been involved in many great accomplishments from fitting cattle that have won at Madison to owning or selling individuals that have been National Winners or All Americans.  However, these are not number one on his achievement list.  He points out, “My proudest moment ever is seeing my little guy for the first time!”  He continues to add special achievements, “My greatest accomplishment so far would be seeing so many individuals go on to be successful from our Jersey Sale this past spring. It is truly one of my proudest moments seeing the Reserve Jr Champion and Honorable Mention Jr Champion heifers from Madison that sold in the Franchise Sale last spring.” (Check out the great work Dusty and the team are doing for The Franchise Kind II Sale)

Wit, Wisdom and a Happy Wife

Dusty loves the new opportunities opening up in his life and has special visions for the future. Jokingly he suggests, “Perhaps I will start up an internet site that tells the truth about the cattle industry… OOPS! … That’s been done .. The Bullvine!”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

Then seriously Dusty concludes, “I would like to continue the blessings of time shared with my wonderful wife and family and someday have my own herd of cows that my children could carry on with.” No doubt his boys will enjoy learning hand-in-hand with their dad.  Dusty Schirm is a shining example!



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