Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful new year! I have to say I'm not going to miss 2010 a whole lot... it could have been worse but there's an awful lot of room for improvement. Goat-wise, we have plans to try to finish moving goats to the FLAT farm, where we might actually be able to get water and/or power. The fence isn't dependent on voltage (don't let anyone tell you it is a great idea to use a high tensile electric fence in the woods - when it works it works well but when a tree falls on it, or the creek floods and buries the bottom wires in debris, or the goats manage to knock the connections loose - it might as well be an open gate, all the way around). We might actually get a building in which to store hay! Hoorah! And, as always, we plan to keep trying to breed the toughest goats going with great maternal instincts, while still keeping decent growth rates and a lot of meat and muscle.
Best wish to all for a productive, progessive, New Year with good health, good family, good friends, and good goats!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Token Doe

Well, today brought the first doe of the season. We bought a 2002 daughter of Tasman Aristocrat at the AKGA sale, figuring it would be a bit of a gamble if she would present us with kids or not. I don't know her kidding history, or if she has always been bred naturally or if she has ever been flushed. All we knew was that she was a good bodied doe with a really nice udder for her age. Today, Ivy had a 9 lb doe kid, white as the snow still laying on the ground in her field. If I could get a few more years worth of kids out of her, I will happily take a single doe each time. Hope we get another one next year. Chuck also discovered that Ivy is a very protective mother. The kid was hard to catch on her own, and Ivy trying to clobber Chuck just added to the excitement. I think the funniest thing that happened to him last year was the mama goat that bit him several times when he was looking at her babies. These latest pictures are unfortunately a bit grainy because Chuck is having to use the zoom on his camera phone. Nobody up there is appreciating him much these last few days.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kidding Season Begins

The first baby goats of the season were no surprise - the Purebred doe we interchangeably call Brownie and Fifty had actually looked like kids were imminent for over a month, down to the taut udder and hollowed sides. Luckily they also came in a "warm spell," if you can call it that. After weeks of temperatures far below normal for this time of year, we have had a week of temperatures making it up into the forties during the day and not far below freezing at night. Fifty is not a first time mama, but these are her first kids for us, so we are learning about her mothering instincts. So far, so good. Kidding brought out the "wild" in her so we've kept our distance except to see if the kids feel warm and full.

Two days later, when we arrived in the country, I noticed a young NZ doe that had obviously kidded recently. I looked around and found, stuffed up under the round bale feeder, Fifty's two kids and a third whitish looking kid. I told Chuck we had three now, and went on about my business. Shortly afterwards he investigated and announced I had missed one - there were not three kids stuffed under the feeder, but four. All bucks. I hope this trend doesn't continue without at least a few does appearing. I had to leave to pick up a human kid, but Chuck stayed to watch the kids and see how Jesse, a first timer, was handling things. We had earlier moved an old doe, not due til January, who had decided she'd like to have all four kids, and who was waving a very formidable set of horns at anyone coming near the kids - even their mothers. After Marshmallow and a buddy were installed in another area, things settled down a bit. Jesse still seems slightly bewildered, but the kids are warm and dry, so she is on the right track. They appear on closer inspection to not be white but a light red. No telling what they will look like in a month.
Now we have several does that should kid in the next couple of weeks. I hope the weather holds, because several are first time mothers. Here's a picture from a few days ago of the expecting does:
Hopefully with the goats being born, we can work in some last minute Christmas shopping over the next couple of days. We hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, and we offer you our best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sustainable Agriculture Conference

We attended the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association annual conference at the beginning of the month. It was here in Winston, which made it doable for us, and although it was about sustainable agriculture in general, we learned many things in the seminars I think we can use on our farm. We attended a seminar about soil biology, which although geared towards folks growing vegetables, was very interesting. It would appear that tilling in cover crops is still considered a way to improve poor soil, but this seminar showed us how damaging the act of tilling can be. Disturbed soils don't soak up the rain the way undisturbed well-grown soils will, which contributes to run off and less drought tolerant soils. The guy doing the seminar was showing how crushing the cover crop and planting through it remaining layer would work, and also showed how careful we must be not to compact the soil running the tractor back and forth over it. I assume there are trends in ag like there are trends in everything else, but it seems the trendiness of tilling in a cover crop every year is beginning to be tempered with a little bit of "tilling in has its place, but should not be overdone." I suppose in all of farming, there is a learning process at every level. What was done for years left us with some pretty pathetic dirt in some cases.

Another seminar I attended that was pretty interesting was about mob grazing. While geared mainly towards cattle, it showed how some pretty pitiful soil (like we have on the Knight Place) can be brought back to life by having a very dense animal population on it for a very short time to add manure, and crush the current vegetation into a sort of mulch. The cows are moved to new spot each day, and the previous area left ungrazed for as long as possible. A person in the audience said she would have to deworm her sheep anyway (as the presenter said he no longer has to deworm his cows) and the State goat specialist, who happened to be in the audience too, piped up and commented that if she moves those sheep every day, she should not have to deworm, and if she found individual animals that still needed deworming in that regimen, she should consider letting them die. That was pretty interesting to hear in an "out loud" voice in this sort of venue. If we can make it work on the Knight Place, I would like to implement some sort of mob grazing rotation. This will depend of course on the setup, and we would no doubt have to use some electronet as front and back fences within the larger areas.

The presenter also uses pigs and chickens in his rotation, and we do have chickens we could use as a clean up crew. I don't see how we could pull it off on the Taylor Place, in the woods, but we have seen a new "topsoil" of sorts where the goats collect and the lespedeza stems have decayed. This grows stuff really well, and seems to hold together in the rain. Now I just need to get the goats off it for at least a season so it can grow some tall vegetation and we lose the parasites that are surely on it. It would be really nice to create more fertile soil at the Knight Place in a proper pasture, especially for the winters. The man doing the mob grazing seminar says he no longer has to fertilize, lime, or seed, and even though his cows may not have the highest weaning weights, they instead have the lowest inputs. Interesting stuff.

Now, I must say, for folks in the Southeast, if the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Conference is not too far from your neck of the woods any time in the future - attend if you possibly can. Even if there weren't a lot of great seminars and opportunities for networking, there is the food! Oh, the food! The ingredients for the dinners were provided by many of the farms presenting or attending the conference, and it was just amazing. Besides being delicious, it was sustainably produced (often organic) healthy food I could feel good about eating. I wish my daughter, also a "foodie," had been there with us for the purple homestyle cooked cabbage and purple sweet potato hash with chorizo... and the shrimp and grits, and the steamship round of beef, and the mountains of fresh veggies around the salads... I think you get the idea.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, on this day of family and feasting, with all the craziness of the past few years and the promise of even more to come... I wanted to take a moment to thank all of the people who have helped us learn to care for our goats and everyone who has bought goats from us. It is so easy to lose sight, as we hustle and bustle, struggle through the tough times and rejoice in the wonderful ones, of all we have for which to be thankful. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work on land that has seen our family through hundreds of Thanksgivings. My husband and I are blessed to have two wonderful, healthy, vibrant (sometimes a bit too vibrant) children to share it all with. Wishing a wonderful Thanksgiving to all of you...

MJ, Chuck, Annalee, and Chip...

Enjoy your feast!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cream of the Crop

We made the trek to Corydon, IN again this year, but this time Grandma watched the kids (but drew the line at the puppy, so she had to come with us) so I could accompany Chuck and enjoy the sale. I had wanted to add a few does with Terminator blood to the mix, and had a few circled in the sale catalog. I was less interested in the 100% NZ tag than just getting some substantial does, and this sale did seem heavy on the Purebreds, so that all worked out for me. We had originally planned to leave town Thursday so we could attend the Friday seminars, but my daughter's school had their Fall Sing Friday morning, and that was a "must attend" event. I have a whole new respect for their music teacher - to see a large group of costumed JrK and Kindergarten kids pull off a well orchestrated recital complete with props and hand movements to all of the songs - well, let's just say it made me wonder if some kind of mass hypnosis was involved.
After the Sing, we hit the road and arrived in Corydon late Friday night... or maybe it was early Saturday morning. We arrived at the Fairgrounds Saturday morning and thankfully by the time Dr. Browning from TSU spoke, the metal barn had had enough time in the sun to become tolerable. My husband may have been wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt (he is part polar bear) but everyone else was well bundled. The air was crisp, and the small town setting and fall leaves gave it a hometown fair sort of feel. A few of the goats shivered in the morning chill, but most were already putting on hair for the winter. This made checking udder structure a bit of a challenge while standing outside the pen, but our vantage point at ring side once the sale started made things a little more apparent.

Both Chuck and I really enjoyed Dr. Browning's talk on the research they've been doing over the past several years at TSU. He had seen it before, and I had seen some of the slides online, but it was much better "live" and with him answering questions from the audience. Once attendee had asked about how Boers are generally given a higher grade by slaughter buyers, but Dr. Browning was able to demonstrate how with the higher kidding and weaning weights and rates of the Kikos and Kiko crosses, they were still the better alternative from a dollars and cents standpoint. We are noticing a change in attitude towards Kikos around here, which is great from our standpoint. It is also great that producers are trying to get goats that need to be chemically dewormed less frequently. That means fewer worms that are resistant to all current classes of dewormers.

In the sale itself, we saw a group of good solid does and good young bucks offered. I didn't see a really bad udder in the bunch, and most of the does had really good udder structure, good deep bodies, and seemed very hardy. We bought a couple of does we had not planned on, and then let some of my original picks go to other farms since I had basically gotten the bloodlines I had wanted to get and spent all I wanted to spend. As usual, now I wish I had kept up the bidding on just a couple more of those does... but now I am at the numbers I want for the winter with the bred does, so it is best that is all we got.

The only really crazy thing I did was buy a doe because of how she looked at me. One light colored doe with speckled ears stared at me as I was walking through the sale barn - and I mean stared. She just sat there and looked me right in the eye for what seemed like several minutes. Now, with my luck, that probably means she has some brain issue but when she was going through the ring and the bidding was low, I thought, "what the heck." So now we have a speckled eared doe who likes to stare. To her credit, she herself had an ADG as a kid of .37 and is ultrasounded pregnant with twins to a young buck with an ADG of something like .6 or something like that. We had been looking at a 2010 PB half sister of the buck to whom she is bred, but she sold for $800. So, we'll see what we get. I believe I was haunted a bit by the memory of the AKGA sale and how a "famous" old doe had looked up at me. I mentioned to Chuck I thought she had a look in her eyes like she was kinda soul tired, for lack of a better way to describe it. We tried to buy her, but my pockets were not deep enough, and I was told by her owner that after a successful embryo flush, she had gone off feed with an infection and had gone to happy goat land. Even though we are raising animals for consumption, it still made me a bit sad and wistful, since I had wanted to only breed her naturally and let her sit around and eat bon bons. I have a bit of a soft spot for older mamas. I wonder why.

Here is a picture of the does we purchased as they rounded the corner towards the loading pen. We bought three bred does, and two 2010 doelings. As I had planned, I have stacked the deck with Terminator bloodlines in my quest for some tough goats. I have that bloodlines in both the Wild Bill goats and also a Turbo doe bred to Cherokee Fiddler. Fiddler is closely related to a doe we bought last year who is bred this year for the first time. This doe's younger sister brought $2500 at the sale bred to Fiddler.

The drive home was a long one, and we ended up taking several naps at rest stops. I don't know if it is better for the goats to just get on to their destination, or if periodic stops allow them more time to rest. They ate a good bit of the grass hay we had in there on the way home, so they didn't let the trip bother them too much. Here are a few pictures of them on the farm to which we will be moving the rest of the bred does as soon as then fence is done. We made a quarantine area of goat panels we can move around out in the weeds. Since they are due between January and March, we may just keep them in a pen like this until they kid out.

As is always the case, we got to see a bunch of goat folks that are becoming friends. This is a good community of people from diverse backgrounds but with a common interest. I see a lot of collaboration, and a lot of people who are willing to share their hard earned knowledge with anyone, just for the asking. I think that spirit of "we are all in this together" will go a long way in keeping the Kiko industry growing in the future.

Now I will start working on my next post with some pictures of our bred does... but a sick young'un takes precedence. I hope we can take the kids with us to Corydon next year. They had a great Halloween festival and since our kids' hopes to go door to door trick or treating were turned topsy turvy by the Saturday vs Sunday thing and one being too sick to really go, we owe them a big Halloween next year.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Can't lose focus...

It never ceases to amaze me how time flies. With my daughter's recent entry into the world of academia (she started JrK this year) I am taken back to my own childhood. A day was big and wide open and it seemed like there was hardly any way to fill all the hours until the sun would go down. Summers seemed endless. These days, in adulthood, a month can be gone in the blink of an eye.

This was one of those months. We had some trouble with a few goats with parasites late last month, proving again that while Kikos are about the toughest goats going, they aren't bulletproof and they are still living breathing creatures. Looking back on it, we set ourselves up for the perfect storm and then mother nature, in the form of torrential downpour after torrential downpour, decided to remind us we need to keep focus and mind the basics or we'd get bit in the butt.

Prior to what seemed like two or more inches of rain a day for about two weeks, we had had a bit of a drought. We like to feed lespedeza hay in the summer in addition to leaving some grass hay out in case anyone feels the need for long fiber. Our fenced areas are small, so reducing the egg count being redeposited in them is a factor we have to consider.

I also hate to use chemical dewormers at all, because every time I do, I am breeding stronger parasites. Most of the time, with the goats we have, this works out for us so long as we use a little sense in our management practices and do what we can to keep the parasites eggs in the pasture in check. We got busy, though, and pulled a stupid and ran out of lespedeza hay. When mother nature chose to let loose with the rains, all those parasite eggs that had been deposited during the period of zero rain apparently hatched at once. Kaboom. A few goats with scours and light eyes. And us scrambling to play catch up.

Now that we're getting back under control, I am making note of what we found. Most of the goats stayed wonderfully red-eyed and healthy as could be during this. Who suffered? The young, low on the social totem pole does who kidded in late spring... the very old... and the very young. All this makes sense. What will I do differently? Well, since my work schedule has been out of control to the point I have not even been able to get up to the goats to help Chuck - it's all on him at the moment. He has been doing famacha checks every few days to make sure everyone is remaining stable (except on the wild ones. But he is an opportunist - one of the wild ones was stuck in the hay feeder when he arrived the other day so he took full advantage of the situation and her eyes were about a 2).

If I have does kid out late next spring, which I don't plan to have happen anyway, I might try dosing them with copper wire particle boluses right after kidding. If this doesn't give them the edge they need, I may try a chemical dewormer, or if she doesn't have just amazing mothering skills, I might move that goat on down the road to someone who needs a tough brush clearer. I'll have to see how it goes. We're certainly finding who seems to stay healthy no matter what, and that's valuable information. Boomer continues to have Famacha scores of 1. His main stressor has been me changing the doe groups around, but that stresses them much more than it bothers him. He is always happy to meet new does. The young Wild Bill son we are keeping to try out as a herd sire is a red eyed quick growing son of a gun too, even though he is a strange looking dude. I just hope both of them pass the positive traits along. Here again, only time will tell.

After the weeks of rain, we've had another period of pretty much zero rain. The pasture we planted on the new farm, where we plan to winter the does, ain't lookin' too grand. We have the soil samples ready to ship out, but we took advantage of a forecast of rain for this afternoon and had a local company come spread us some lime. Even without the benefit of what the soil sample will tell us, it has been a while since this farm was limed, and we run acidic around here just as a general rule. I want to get some varied forage planted in the areas where the orchardgrass and alfalfa didn't take; some winter peas, which should also improve the soil long term, and some kale and maybe even some turnips in spots, in addition to the standard winter wheat or rye. And the rain this afternoon has been a sight for sore eyes. Slow, gentle, and cool. Now if only it doesn't wait another month to rain again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beating the heat.

Just a quick shot of Bo and Ralph doing their best to endure the heat. Bo has expanded Ralph's tunnel under the shed, and frequently we see only his eyes peeping up into the shed itself. Bo was born in mid April, and Ralph will be a year this October. She was 70lbs at her last checkup, even with the heat. I'm thinking Bo is going to be a big boy.

Here is another one of the boys from this season. Steel is getting ready to move back to the country as soon as we complete the new buck pen encompassing a blackberry patch thick enough I'm not even sure they will be able to move around in it. It needs trimmed back and they need to earn their keep, so we just need to get the panels up and posts in.

We bought a doe last year heavy bred to Wild Bill, a Terminator XX son. Since toughness and parasite resistance are our goals, we wanted to add some Terminator blood to the herd. So far, Ace is living up to the Terminator reputation. He has his mother's frame and so does his sister, so if he keeps on looking promising, we may use him to test breed a few does late this fall. The first item on his agenda, though, is the blackberry bushes...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Getting the right mix...

Well, breeding season is well underway up on the farm. We have, for the most part, the does where we want them so we can with any luck start kidding out in December. Chuck reports back when he sees activity, and I record it in the calendar with the tentative due date. Now, we just have to keep everyone healthy until it is time to move them to the other farm sometime in November. We have had a record number of days over 90 degrees, and I wonder how it will affect fertility. Obviously the days are beginning to shorten triggering the does to come in, but I wonder if their bodies will respond to the heat with reduced ovulation or if it won't matter at all. I suppose I will start getting my answers this December.

We finally got the weanling does moved to the country. So far, they have adjusted well and only little Tempy continues to try to get herself killed. She is the smallest of the bunch, but spends all of her time foraging even when everyone else is taking it easy in the shade, so I hope she does not eventually succeed in her attempts to eliminate herself from the gene pool. I have learned to appreciate the individuals who really get out and forage.

Connie's doe kid continues to thrive even with the heat. We hope Connie rebreeds so she can kid out closer to the rest of the group next time, but that may not happen until next year. I have tried to keep the late kidding does fed well enough to raise their kids and keep a reasonable body condition so they may still continue their own growth but still rebreed and produce kids for this winter. Again, come December, I will know if this worked or if it was just feed wasted. If so, I can make better decisions next year. I don't mind providing extra feed for a doe doing double or triple duty, especially if she herself is still growing. It's the freeloaders I have a bit of a problem with.
Speaking of those earning their keep... Chuck finally got the tractor moved to the country and bought a box scrape to try to renovate the road down to the goats. When it rains, it is all but impassable. Unfortunately, he forgot a piece to use the boom pole to take the box scrape out of the truck, so he had to do it by hand. I think part of him just likes to see what he can pick up and move.

Friday, July 30, 2010

the July kid

Connie's doe kid is still growing, although we have thought a couple times she might have been a coyote snack. Chuck could not find where Connie had her hidden away, so we thought when the tree fell across the fence and shorted it, an opportunistic predator may have taken advantage of the situation. Last weekend we took Bo, the Anatolian puppy, to the country to become acquainted with his future territory. We put him in "area 3" and set about our business putting one of those portable sheds together to cover some hay. About an hour later, I walked down the hill and hollered and hollered - but, no Bo. In my efforts to find him, I found the tiny cave under a huge pile of pushed in sticks where Connie's doeling had been hidden safely away. It took Chuck another hour or so to find Bo, who had found a nice cool spot next to a stump about in the middle of the woods, and who had no real intention of leaving that nice cool spot (did I mention we picked the day with the 110 degree heat index to do all this?). Within the past few days Connie's doeling has started to join the group, mainly full of long yearlings and mature does being bred for December and January kids.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Looks like I'll have to get Chuck a new hat

Because he is going to have to eat one of his old ones. He went to the country today to check the goats between storms (which were keeping me busy on call) and I received a text from him stating "one doe. All okay." One doe? One? I texted back asking him if he was sure another one hadn't washed away. Nope. Jabba the Hutt had one doe. She's a first timer, so I wouldn't be surprised with a single if she had been a little smaller. She is figuring out this whole mom thing, and has a good supply of milk and the doeling is getting her colostrum, so now we just have to watch her grow and assess Connie's mothering abilities and her new doe kid's own qualities and see what we've got.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Breeding season is upon us...

And the late bred doe just refuses to kid out. We had two young does we picked up at Cream of the Crop that we decided were not grown out enough to breed in the early winter, so we kept them home until they had a few more months to grow. Hence, we have a doe that is big as a house in the middle of July, and I've been holding off moving the rest of my long yearlings up there to get bred because I don't want them to beat the tar out of her in her current delicate condition. I guess I chose poorly when I decided I didn't want to wait until the next fall to get her bred. Live and learn. The real problem is, there isn't a better field of similar age does to put her in, and time's a wastin' with the does scheduled to be bred. In order to maximize the potential of their future kids to be breeding size by next winter, and to minimize the possibility of parasite issues when thier immune system is down, I am again aiming to get the does bred for December kids. In retrospect, although it was hard getting up to check on them in the bad weather, it was easier on the does and the kids after their initial rude entry to the cold, cold world. If the pasture we planted on the other farm takes, and we get the does on it late winter as planned, life will be a lot easier this winter. Keep your fingers crossed for us to get all the work done. This is the season where we start our planning and gambling, hoping for the perfect cross that gives us maternal does, fast growing kids, meaty bucks, and increased parasite resistance all the way around.

Now if only Connie will just get with the program and kid out. We did not see her get bred as we did with almost every other doe (Boomer is not shy, which is helpful figuring out when kids are due). She waddles around, enormous - udder huge, sides dropped, pawing here and there and acting like kidding is imminent, only she has been doing this for a week. When she lays down, she spreads out like Jabba the Hutt. I have decided the other does are going to the country anyway in a few days. I had wanted to wait until her kids were at least a couple of weeks old (if she doesn't have twins I'll make Chuck eat his hat), but I don't want to miss another cycle with the rest of the does, because they are definitely gearing up to make babies.

I'm looking forward to this breeding season, as I'm sure all the other producers are doing as well. We have several Iron Horse daughters ready to be bred, out of some of the GHK herd mother does. We only crossed Boomer with one young Iron Horse doe this year, and the single doeling she had is developing nicely and with more muscle than our other doe kids, so she will be interesting to see in two years.

Hopefully I will get a new crop of replacement does with the genes for muscle and meat. We have a new "elder" doe who is a Tasman Aristocrat daughter we hope has a few more kids in her, and a few other does with traits we'd like to see in our herd - good udders, documented parasite resistance, and a good thick meaty hind end. I'm looking forward to "34's" next set of kids because phenotypically, she also crossed really well with Boomer with both a doeling and buckling and I'm really hoping her mothering abilities breed true. I know to some folks the 100% New Zealand tag is more important, but this Purebred doe is one of my favorites so far. That's why my plan right now is to keep her daughter.

Come spring, I hope my Terminator XX granddaughter and some of my Purdy doelings are ready to breed, but if not, they'll be ready for next fall!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

AKGA Conference

Well, we are home from our adventure in Mississippi. We were expecting an even larger adventure, as we had planned to take our children with us to the AKGA seminar, but Grandma took pity on us, and on them, so they stayed with her. We knew it was going to be trouble when our daughter announced she didn't want to go to the goat conference because there weren't going to be any rides. Obviously, it was not her idea of a vacation. So, Chuck and I loaded up the night after my final class of a 3 week intense graduate level education class - the class I couldn't miss because all the projects were due - in our brand new shiny truck. Well, it is brand new to us. The youngest of our vehicles had 110k on it, so we broke down and got a new used farm truck just before the conference. It handled the trip admirably and we felt like we were riding in style.

We drove all night after being up all day, and while I spelled Chuck for a bit so he could have a nap, I was exhausted from my class and he did the vast majority of the driving. We arrived in Batesville, Mississippi at the conference center just in time for the doe selection seminar, without a minute to spare. We learned a lot from the seminar, and then had the opportunity to rate the live does. We originally had one "keep or cull" decision wrong, but when the majority of the folks participating said they'd cull the doe, too, Dr. Sparks tossed her out of the mix. We still didn't win the prize in the drawing, but it was nice to know we are learning something. Now we just need to practice what we all are preaching!

We got some great information in the LGD seminar, which was timely, considering we had sent in a deposit on an Anatolian puppy to be the eventual companion of our Great Pyrenees, Ralph (yes, Ralph is a female). We were very pleased with the pup when we saw him. He is sensible and brave without being too aggressive, and is just a good looking pup. He came from Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. He even rode home beautifully in the dog crate. I think he was exhausted from his big weekend and all the heat, and he slept most of the way home.

One of my big moments of the weekend was getting to hear Dr. Pinkerton in person. He writes so well, and has such a wonderful sense of humor that permeates his writing, I couldn't wait to see his seminar on winter forages for the SouthEast. Of course, I am very interested in winter forage suitable for NC for obvious reasons, although we've already got some stuff planted that we hope will be up for this winter. I learned about several alternatives that will work if the orchard grass doesn't make it because of when we planted. After listening to Dr. Pinkerton, I have a new favorite saying. I can't put the whole thing in my blog lest I offend anyone, but I just hope I don't do anything where he'd have to tell me I was "eat up with the dumb***." Well, anything else that is. I've sure had my moments, and now I have a particularly eloquent way to describe what must have come over me.

One of the speakers at the conference runs a Halal slaughterhouse, and I had read some articles last year that suggest Halal slaughter produces less pain for the animal. I am interested in this, as even though we do believe in eating goat meat, we believe that no animal should have to be treated cruelly or subject to great fear even in its last moments. He also was kind enough to bring both a spicy (which Chuck ate) and a mild (which was still almost too spicy for me) goat meat dish with saffron rice and a fresh vegetable salad. What a wonderful afternoon snack. It was delicious. Anyone who hasn't tried goat meat should try some of the stuff they have at these goat conferences. It will make a believer out of you.

Of course, the weekend would not be complete without a rundown of the sale on Saturday. We missed the meeting Friday night as we were unable to keep our eyes open any longer, and were concerned after all that driving we might have smelled worse than the buck goats, so we went to the hotel and crashed. One of the older does I had decided I was going to bring home no matter what was not there, so we carefully looked over some others, and did get our hearts set on two in particular with a few alternates that would also fit the program. I made a list of goats I might be interested in, took some pictures, and when we went back to the hotel, I put myself to sleep reviewing my notes. As exhausted as we were, excitement was the stronger of the two and we were there bright and early to look at goats and attend seminars Saturday morning.

I spoke to the man who owns Sports Kat now, as "Boomer" is a Sports Kat grandson and I love how he is built. He mentioned he had some young doelings at the sale, so I took a look at them and thought they looked pretty good. I loved several of the old does, weathered but regal in their demeanor, and really wanted to get some of these old genetics for our herd. Of course, there were some good younger does with great udders and body types, and some nice babies, too.

When the auction started Saturday, prices were lower than I expected for some pretty good looking goats. Of course, on the goats I was after, this was not the case. I did get the Sports Kat doe for a good price, but the rest of the does I had wanted really got out of my price range. There was a gorgeous young doe named Eulie I wanted, but she just went higher than I could go. I bet she does great things for the farm that got her. I also tried mightily to get old Tay W27, but my pockets weren't as deep as the farm who got her, or rather, got her back. Apparently the high bidder had gotten in trouble for selling her previously so he was under strict orders to bring her home. He is going to flush her, and of course we don't flush, but I had hoped to bring her home and get a crop or two from her and then feed her bon bons the rest of her days because she's old and she deserves it. Can you tell I'm an older mom too? Maybe someday I'll get her... but not this time. I did get a doe by Tasman Aristocrat and we're going to see if she has a set of kids left in her. I hope so. She's an awfully good looking doe for her age. We also got a young doe to be a companion to the Sports Kat daughter, and she is a nice looking Sports Kat granddaughter. I really like the Sports Kat look and meatiness. There was another relatively young doe that looked pretty good and had a nice udder, and her price was right, so we took a chance on her to round out the group. Now I just have to hope everyone is parasite resistant and a good momma. Only time will tell. I guess even with ones you breed yourself, it is a crap shoot and you just have to hope some traits breed through. I haven't had time to take decent pictures of the new does yet. They are settling in after their very long trip. I gave everyone some Bovi Sera because they've really had the stress, and anything very young or very old is always more delicate. They are eating some hay, and hopefully that will help settle their stomachs.

My entry would not be complete without a mention of how nice it was to finally meet so many of the goat folks face to face. I normally have to work, look after the kids, and look after the goats, so Chuck usually travels alone to these things. I was pleased to have met such a nice group of folks, and especially the other bloggers out there. It really does feel like we already know each other, doesn't it? Well, off to look after some stuff and more later...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

some of the kids looking for new digs

Here are a couple of pictures of two of the doelings we've had some interest in. I'd be delighted for them to find some good homes, and get Boomer's genetics out there for some other producers. That will be a true test of his mettle, and it will take a few years for us to really know how those bloodlines play out. First is Magnolia, who is a triplet doeling out of a older doe we bought at BBM's dispersal sale. She has raised many sets of triplets, and is a tough old goat. Her buck kid is now at the house with the other buck kids, and although he is a triplet and a month younger than the 75% twins we brought home at the same time, he is a little taller, so we'll see how he develops muscle wise now that he is on his own. Here is a picture or two of Magnolia. Please excuse the ears in picture two.

Although the next doeling is very similar in color, this is Indy's 100% NZ doeling "China Doll." She is much younger, and won't be ready to wean for a couple months.

Here is a picture of all three kids in that field - PB twins out of "34" and of course little "China Doll", the youngest on the farm.

And here is a closer picture of "34's" doeling "Ginger."

And Ginger's twin brother, who isn't all the way named yet. I'm partial to "Freeway" but for $400 you can name him anything you'd like and put him in the back of your truck. He's a good looking little buck, and we're sure impressed with his mama's mothering abilities...