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...