Sunday, September 24, 2023
Chris Judd

Red hair, eh!

Sixteen years ago, when our granddaughter was born with red hair, there was a little whispering in the background because both her parents and grandparents had dark hair.
At this year’s Shawville Fair opening (as this year's Shawville Fair Ambassador) she was the only one on stage with red hair. Her first cousin (another Fair Ambassador) had jet black hair, I again wondered if everybody understood about the red hair recessive gene? Although Kathleen’s twin great -aunts both had red hair, I had to go back almost 200 years to find a direct ancestor on the Judd side who had red hair.
It was well-documented in Joel Judd’s military record. When he enlisted with the British militia in the War of 1812, his record recorded, “red hair, blue eyes, white skin, and about five foot nine inches tall”. The militia played a much greater roll in the War of 1812 than the British army. Joel Judd’s detachment was credited with the defeat of the American army in the battle of “Lunday’s Lane”, and with the fierce fighters of our First Nations People, they helped Gen. Brock again at Queenston Heights.
That time they chased the American army down to Ohio before they were told to return. As a reward for being a soldier of militia fighter, they often received land instead of money because governments are always short of money and back in 1812, land was very inexpensive.
On every farm that Joel received for his service, he planted a few apple trees. In Chatham township, Bastard township and even where his son and grandson pioneered in Greermount, Ontario, you can still find apple trees that were planted by the Judd families.
Being an old farmer, I knew that the gene that determines hair color is a recessive gene, but two hundred years is a long time for red hair not to show up. Although our distant cousin Wynonna Judd has red hair, her half-sister Ashley does not.
As an old farmer who has dedicated time trying to inform our consumers about food production, our concern about how our animals are looked after and our dedication to food safety, I want to congratulate our ever-expanding 4-H club and their involvement in making our fair such a great place to visit.
The local 4-H club now boasts ninety members who will continue to improve our little fair and be able to inform consumers about farming. Farmers now make up only about one per cent of our population and neither they nor their organizations have the manpower or resources to keep consumers informed about the changing farming ways. Because 4-H members have to learn to help each other, work with animals who need more understanding than most of us know, and are trained to educate each other and our necessary consumers who buy our produce, they can inform our population who are now generations away from a farm.
Without knowing, they are getting a course in psychology that they will use all the rest of their lives dealing with animals, family, and everyone that they will come in contact with. They also learn about recessive genes that control hair color, whether an animal has horns or not, that a white face on a cow is “a dominant trait”, and a “bad attitude” or a “good attitude” is hereditary.

Chris Judd is a farmer in Clarendon on land that has been in his family for generations.


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