Sunday, June 24, 2012

I never get tired of this...

But I'm sure Chuck does.  I am quite convinced this is the perfect way to keep goats, save for the labor involved.  We have the Perry sale group of does in quarantine down at the bottom end of the farm in a 16' by 16' pen made of goat panels.  We tend to quarantine a pretty long time - we've been known to keep new does that we buy bred in quarantine until their kids are weaned.  This group consists of 3 weanlings and 2 yearlings.  So far they are adjusting to their new digs pretty well, and they are some brush eating so and sos.  I wish I had a public brush control project where I could take this group because they would do the breed proud. 

Today when Chuck was moving the pen, I was in the truck with the kids, and I snapped pictures of the process.  It really is amazing.  You can see in the foreground how the ground is pretty bare, but there are sticks poking up.  In the background, you can see some pretty thick blackberry bushes, small trees, and whatnot.  The area in the foreground shows what the goats are doing in one to two days, on areas like what is in the background.  They are that fast, and that thorough.  They are eating what they are designed to eat, high off the ground, and are making it easier for us to fence in the future.  Works for us!

Chuck begins to slide the pen backwards into the brush from the spent area

He has learned to turn the shelter upside down

The goats are opportunists, and will use the shed to jump the fence

He continues, as the does watch

more lifting and sliding back into the brush

the goats have already attacked the new forage

almost in place

not sure what he sees, but he checks for cherry trees

flipping the shed upside right

on the way out, goats on fresh ground

stalling out for a moment

a closeup of the thick growth

enjoying a snack of fresh blackberries

back to the truck so we can roll to the next thing

 fed for free for the next day

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The heat is on!

And we knew it was coming, just not when it was coming.  We had been lucky that the spring had been for the most part mild, as everyone, both man and beast, handles temperatures in the eighties a sight better than when the mercury creeps up between ninety and the century mark.  Today, we spent some time at the farm doing some "emergency" measures to try to help the goats beat the heat.  The forage is holding up, so far, and it looks like we have at least half a week more of serious heat before there might be relief in the form of cooler temperatures.  We've put an awful lot of effort into the forage mix, and so far it is holding up but we've not had the drought months yet.

pasture mix in the bottom field

I mentioned we had put a metal roofed "car shed thing" in the top field last year because it gets exactly zero shade, no matter the time of day.  We had lost a nice young doe in the summer before that, and we assume it was to heat as she was the only black doe in the group and the temperatures that day had been over 100 degrees with miserable humidity.  One of the complicating factors in this part of the country, of course, is the humidity, and I don't know any way to combat that, but we did spend a day last week when it was a little cooler giving booster vaccines for pneumonia to almost all the mature does.  That's about as much as I know how to do to prepare them for the heavy humidity that defines summers in the South.

the bozos better use these shade structures
We have set aside a little goat money to add one of these car sheds to the bottom field this summer.  It gets a bit of shade morning and evening, but none in the middle of the day when they need it the most.  Since the shed has not arrived yet, we took an idea from Dr Sparks column in the Goat Rancher and made some temporary shade structures from t-posts and old tarps to tide us over until the shed is here.  I tested one, and with the light breeze today, it was appreciably cooler under one of these than not.  Hopefully the goats will use them.  When we were leaving, not one of the dopes was under them, but then, the sun had reached an angle in the sky that the trees outside the fence were beginning to provide the usual afternoon shade and that is where the goats were congregating.  I guess we'll know tomorrow if they have figured out the new shade structures or not. 

I often mention how overstocked we are, and the problems this can create.  I know we sound like idiots to be doing something we know is dicey, but this farm had no infrastructure save an old tobacco barn on it when we started this little venture.  Now, we do have our "used" main metal barn and four fenced main pasture/paddock areas.  And one of those has the car shed thing in it.  The goats are paying their way and building their farm.  We have to have a certain number to sell so we can cull some, keep one or two, and sell the rest and make enough to put back into the farm to grow it some more.  The goats are buying themselves barns, fences, and feed towards an eventual level where we are no longer overstocked for the amount of animals we plan to run.  Or at least that is the plan.  Not sure when we'll get there. 

picking up the straw bales
As we were working in the pasture today, we saw the tobacco guys' crew back to pick up the straw they had baled from the wheat that they just combined recently.  They got truckloads of wheat off the farm, and truckloads of straw bales.  I still look at those front fields, now full of naught but stubble, and envision beautiful pastures of orchard grass, and alfalfa, and chicory, or hey - if we win the lotto - maybe some AU Grazer!  Someday...

As an aside, I got a call from the man at the feed store who had told me he wouldn't be able to get the minerals I wanted.  After announcing who he was and from whence he was calling, he said, quite dryly, "a miracle has occurred."  As it turns out, the miracle was in the form of the arrival of said minerals.  I stopped by a few days later to pick them up, and they loaded up my two bags.  Of course, when I stopped in to get them, the feed man said, again, just as dryly, "they're expensive."  Fine time to tell me, buddy.  Well, I figure if they really do provide something the goats aren't currently getting, then they'll be worth it.  I've been reading my Pinkerton book again, and am always struck by the notion that a goat's total performance is limited by the one element that is deficient (or, I assume, provided at toxic levels or to the exclusion of something else).  So even if everything else is right, they will never perform to their best if one thing is lacking severely enough.  I know I can't fix everything, and wouldn't even know where to begin, but that idea really bugs me. 

mineral tag, with chelated minerals for supposedly better absorption

Big bale of sericea lespedeza
This brings me to another interesting (or oddball, depending on how you look at it) thing I read recently.  I picked up a grazing magazine at Tractor Supply last weekend for some reading material for the ride down to get an old big bale of sericea lespedeza hay.  The article was talking about water, which is always the most important nutrient.  I remember from Horse Bowl that horses' bodies are 70% water, and this article said cattle are the same, so I am taking the leap that goats are pretty close.  The author was discussing the quality of the animals' drinking water, and how lower quality water sources can actually negatively impact foraging habits.  If the animals are only drinking the water as a last resort, they tend to stay thirsty.  If they stay thirsty, they stick around the water source and don't utilize the whole forage area.  It was interesting, considering our unique water challenges. 

water on wheels, which equates to life made easier

One thing the author mentioned was that if the cows "play" with the water or the float valve in an automatic waterer, they are trying to freshen the water because it isn't to their liking.  I remember horses doing this when I was a kid, flipping the water and stirring it about with their lips, and I just thought they were playing.  Maybe there was more to it than that.  Something to think about, for sure.  We've spent years making "good" water for our koi, meaning highly oxygenated, low dissolved organic content water with a high ORP (how oxidative the water is) and stable pH.  Maybe we should think a bit more about the water quality for the animals who drink it, although I'm not quite sure how we could fix it barring access to the fast flowing stream at the back of the property.  Of course, a farm pond with a windmill for aeration would be nice, too. 

Virginia napped for a lot of the time we were working, which was just as well, considering the heat.  She stayed in the car with the air conditioner running for part of the time, as environmentally unfriendly as that is.  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  We were able to put her in the stroller under some shade trees for her second nap, and the breeze made it quite bearable.  I've noticed that Bo sticks pretty close to the children, wherever they are on the farm.  He seemed to appreciate a bit of shade, as well.

Virginia at lunch.  She has a good time pretty much anywhere she goes.
Bo agrees it is mighty hot.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Planning for fall and some helpful products.

Okay, I'm freaking out.  I know anyone in a drought stricken area will have little sympathy, but we had five inches of rain in less than 48 hours earlier this week, and it worries me no end.  We didn't have too many hard freezes this winter, which has made many say this is going to be a very bad summer for parasites.  What worries me more, though, is that we have had such a moist spring.  We haven't had much brutal heat yet, and we've gotten plenty of rain.  What worries me about that?  Normally, the droughty times and heat of the summer dries up some of the parasites around here, or at least causes them to go dormant.  This nice juicy spring has kept the pastures looking good, but when I look out at the load we have on them, I can just imagine the infective larvae teeming on every blade of grass.  It makes we wish I could put every goat in one of our "moving pens" and slide them around the farm to minimize parasite exposure and of course to maximize the use of forage on the land.  We do have the new does quaratining in one, and you can see how they convert blackberry bushes to growth and pasture.
the Perry group, working the blackberries
It is very labor intensive, but it also best utilizes the existing forage on the farm and saves money. Last year I made a picture of what was left after an area was "worked" by the goats. I took a picture of this same area, a year later. It is still lush grass with not much regrowth of what most would call noxious plants (like blackberry, which surrounds the area).
last year, post moving pen
this year, ready made pasture

We're starting to think about what we need to get done to put bucks with does for early kids.  Once again the earliest kids (starting in early February) did a lot better than the late spring kids (late March or later).  Several other factors play in, of course, and are kinda no-brainers.  The first group was small, and on the same size paddock as the much larger second group.  That adds an additional stressor.  Now, I periodically gaze wistfully at the front of the farm, now planted in wheat, and sigh.  I've had several people ask "when are you going to kick those tobacco guys off of there?" and the answer, at this point, is "when they decide they are done with it."  They've used the farm for many years, buying the poundage back in the day when there was a tobacco quota.  After the quota was phased out, they continued using the farm at a set fee per acre of tobacco produced.  I know that, in theory, our return per acre could be a lot higher with either goats on it or doing vegetables on part of it (something Chuck hopes to do someday) but there is no way I'm going to mess with someone else's livelihood.  I don't know how much those guys depend on that farm as they use so many others in the area, but they've got the wheat on it and are still mowing around the perimeter, so I assume they still really need it.  I can envision that acreage, though, all neatly fenced and cross fenced, with a strip across the top for moving goats easily from one paddock to the next or to be used as a working area, and sometimes I even dream of automatic waterers in each paddock.  Ay me. 
Amber waves of grain!  The kids were excited when they learned this is where Shredded Wheat comes from.

The good thing about having a farm with a lot of acres that are not yet fenced is that there is room to expand, and paddock expansion can only make life easier.  The bad thing is that currently the goats are crammed on small acreage, and that makes our venture much more labor intensive for us and tougher on the goats, but it also means the goats that do well in this situation are likely to make it on other small farms.  There are a lot more 20 acre farms around here than there are 200 acre farms these days.  If you have enough acres and few enough goats, then you probably will never have to deworm them, or feed them anything but maybe some hay in the winter and put loose minerals out.  Heavy bred and lactating does may need some supplementation, too.  Most people are somewhere in the middle, it seems, and I personally think 2 acres per goat would be about perfect in this climate. 

I look forward to the days of having more acres fenced than we have goats, but that's not what we have at the moment, so we deal with it.  My goal for this winter is to have approximately 25 to 30 bred does, give or take.  We've added some does from some specific lines, and with specific body traits towards that end.   I have a few doelings I don't think will be big enough to breed this fall (I may breed that small group late and keep them separate from the mature doe herd), and I have a couple of does that are going "down the road."  That gentle euphemism really does mean going down the road in our case, as Chuck is still running a few commercial type goats at the other farm to keep the kudzu under control on the cutover timber.  If they don't make it there, they'll be sold without papers as brush goats, pets, or dinner.  That farm is much more hands off so parasite resistance and/or tolerance is a must, but the goats do have the benefit of low numbers and lots of forage so in some ways they have it easier than the goats on the main farm.  My long term goal is to have fifty top notch does in production, and to get to that goal is going to require several years of breeding effort in addition to a whole lot more fence.
the Ozark sale does, settling in

In the interim, we are still trying to find ways to make farming long distance less labor intensive.  The water tank on the trailer thing worked out pretty well.  I can see someone using this setup if they do brush control with goats, or have to move them to a remote pasture without a natural water source.  It would work even better if there was some natural shade because it would give a constant supply of cool, fresh water - the most important nutrient.  The big tank is just connected by a hose to the float valve we bought I believe at Tractor Supply, and it affixes to the top edge of one of those black stock tanks.  I wish we'd thought of that sooner.  It is a bad feeling to get to the farm and find the goats out of water on a hot day, and this ought to fix that until we can work out a solar pump system to the well (and test the well). 

I am just two weeks into my new type of minerals, so I can't tell if there is any change yet.  Boomer looks about as good as he has ever looked, which is a good thing going in to breeding season.  Shaw is a little thin, so we are keeping an eye on him since he didn't have the smoothest adjustment period.  He should be settling in and bouncing back, we hope.  Ace is carrying decent weight, and is still growing.  I will probably be using all three of them, and I am trying to figure out who is going in with whom, and where I am going to put them.  And then, of course, I have to figure out what to do with the does once they are bred.  Part of me wants the entire group together, as they are now save for the new does still in quarantine, and part of me wants to break them into contemporary age groups early on in their pregnancy.  If they are together, I can rotate the whole group to maximize forage.  If I break them up, I can feed each group more to its particular needs - especially the youngest does who are still growing at the same time they are carrying kids.  I'm not sure which makes the most sense yet. 
mixed age group pasture

Times like this I wish I had about fifteen two acre paddocks so I could run each set of does separately.  I'd keep the first timers by themselves and feed them more so they continue to grow as they also grow babies.  I'd give the mature does some space to raise their kids to the best of their potential with little to no intervention because they are time tested and at the top of their milk production.  I'd also have a field for the oldies, because if I have a doe that doesn't start to slow down until well after the "norm" in commercial production, it makes more sense to me to give her a little support and get a few more kids from her that may also be long time producers than cull her and spend the money on a young doe, but that's because it works out for me in my situation.  Replacing that doe in the current market will easily cost me $500 to $1000.  I can support the oldie goldies for a lot less than that.  Now, if she starts slowing down as a five or six year old she's just "normal."  I'm talking about the 8 to 10 year olds or beyond that just need more calories than a doe at her prime but are still turning out multiple kids, especially if they have other added value traits.

On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to mention a few non-goat products I have come across that make day to day life a little easier on the farm.  One is a suncreen.  Anyone who has seen me knows I am about as white as they get.  I burn, and never tan.  My children thankfully do not have skin that burns like mine, but I want to protect their skin for the long haul as they run around the farm.  Right after I had Annalee, I fancied I could sell skin care products.  That didn't go so well as I am not the outgoing salesperson type, but the products are so good I am still using them six years later.  Sometimes I think I will try something a little cheaper, and the cheap stuff ends up sitting unused on the counter.  One of the best in the line is the Baby Sunscreen.  I think it is only SPF 30 but I have never had a sunburn while using it, even when I stay out in the sun all day, and it does not sweat off.  It is gentle enough it doesn't break any of us out - even when Annalee got carried away and put so much on Chip's face he looked like a mime.  If you are in the market for an excellent sunscreen, it is from Arbonne (see the Arbonne Baby Care). 

The next thing I want to mention has to do with a problem I have mentioned many times - ticks!  We still have a huge tick problem on the farm.  I have found a couple of neem based sprays that really reduce the number of ticks the kids come home carrying, and they are gentle on the skin.  One is a JustNeem product - Adios Outdoor Body Spray.  JustNeem is based in Cary, NC, where I lived for several years, so that is an added bonus for me as I like to support local companies.  They make a neem soap as well, although I plan to try my hand at soap making when that elusive free time thing comes around and will be trying to put together my own perfect neem type soap.

Anyone who was down at the sale in Perry, Georgia got to experience some of the most irritating gnats I have seen in a long time.  I pulled out the old neem spray, only to find it really didn't work on gnats.  Some folks were having luck with dryer sheets, but Chuck found another spray bottle we had in his truck before we heard about the dryer sheet trick.  I believe it is Sentry Natural Defense, but it is a dog and cat herbal spray.  I used to use horse fly spray on myself back in the day, but I am much more careful what I put on my children.  I spray this on my own skin, but I try to only spray their clothing, legs, and hair because I am paranoid.  This spray has several essential oils, smells great in an earthy, spicy sort of way, and really stopped the gnats.  I was able to walk around relatively unbothered as everyone else swished and swatted. 

Now if I could just find the magic thing to eliminate internal parasites and coccidia on the farm... of course, if I did, the goats wouldn't last long in other situations.  I do wish the things that are being researched were more widely available.  I wish pelleted sericea was as common as alfalfa pellets.  I wish that stuff that kills the larvae in the field was available here - I think it is a fungus.  If there were no side effects, that would be darn handy to make pastures "clean" again.  Until that comes, I will just have to worry.

Monday, June 4, 2012

SEKGA sale in Perry Georgia

two Nanook Onyx Bear daughters - the front might have been the high seller.
Well, this year we had to decide whether we would attend the AKGA convention sale, or the SEKGA sale.  Since the kids are now out of school, we decided to make it a family trip and made the seven hour trek to Perry, Georgia for the SEKGA festivities.  Seven hours in a truck with three small children and a dog may seem like a long trip, but it seemed much more manageable than the 11 to 12 hours it would have taken to make it to the AKGA event.

As is typically the case, we left home about tweleve hours later than we had planned.  We had intended to leave Thursday night, which would allow the kids to sleep as we drove, and also allow us to attend the Friday seminars.  Even when I listen to a seminar on a topic I thought I understood, I almost always learn something new.  My nephew had kindly agreed to watch the goats for us when we were gone, so Chuck tried to prepare for him as best as possible to make it easy.  We had two big worries - one, that the goats would run out of water since there is no power and we haul water to the farm every day, and two, that one of the idiots would stick her head through the fence and expire before we could return.  We were ready to swap pastures between the doe herd (who mow down a field) and the weanling bucks (who can't keep up with it and let it grow eye high) anyway, so I ran around the field putting more isolators on and we ran a hot wire about 16" or 18" high around the inside of the field to discourage them trying to eat outside the fence.  To address the water issue, we had been wanting to try to use a float valve on a stock tank with the water source being a big six or seven hundred gallon water tank.  Chuck put it on a trailer so we could fill it at home and then drive it to the farm and just hook it up to a hose to the stock tank.  Luckily, the water pressure was sufficient to operate the check valve, so we at least had made those two problems less of an issue for the trip.  It just made us run a little behind schedule. 

The giant peach in South Carolina.
Now these are some peaches!
Roadside peach stand somewhere in Georgia.
We ended up leaving the house Friday morning, and it actually worked out pretty well.  The kids had been itching to leave, and were looking forward to the trip to Georgia.  They had been asking what states we would go through (always a topic of interest) and were hoping to be able to go swimming in the hotel swimming pool.  The kids had fun watching the jets flying low on takeoff and landing around the Charlotte airport, and then were excited to see the South Carolina border.  The giant peach was a hit, of course, and prompted an unplanned stop at a peach stand once we made it into Georgia.  Still remembering some particularly succulent South Carolina peaches Chuck had brought me years ago from one of his work trips, I had been on the lookout for a roadside stand in case the peaches were in season anywhere.  Luckily, peach season had begun in Georgia.  As I carried my paper sack of peaches back to the car I could smell their sweet fragrance wafting up from the bag.  It filled the truck with the smell of Southern summertime.  Chip won't eat anything much beyond cheese, but Annalee loves fruit and I told her just how different roadside peaches ripened on the tree would taste from the ones we buy at the supermarket.  When she finally ate one later in the day, she understood what I meant.  The supermarket peaches are firm and a bit bland, because of course they have to be hard to travel.  A real peach is mushy and juicy and messy, dripping with honeyed sweetness with just a bit of tartness rounding it out.  A real peach doesn't travel well a-tall.  I was reminded of that fact after leaving the peaches in the hot truck a few hours after we arrived at our destination.  Next time we will pick up peaches on our trip home, if it happens to be before dark.  They still are delicious, and I feel so sorry for anyone who has never experienced the flavor of a real live tree ripened peach.

Finally we arrived at the Fairgrounds.
registration table for the SEKGA
We all had had just about enough of driving about twenty minutes before we made it to Perry.  When we arrived at the fairgrounds, we practically spilled out of the truck and ran in to see what was going on and of course to see how the goats for sale were looking.  We made it in time to look around at the goats, and the kids took the dog for a stroll around the fairgrounds.  It wasn't long before Chip was crying - he discovered that Georgia ants are a bit testier than northern North Carolina ants.  His love of anything insectoid had him messing in an anthill, and the ants subsequently showed him who was boss. 
Chip's anthill. 

A rare moment of stillness at the SEKGA conference.

breeder tables, some with some handy "how to" info
We partook of the goat meat dinner, which is always one of our favorite parts of any goat conference or sale.  I have to say my favorite part of the meal wasn't the actual goat, though.  There was this slaw... this wonderful slaw... and I had two helpings.  It was vinegar based, but it had some unexpected elements.  I am not exactly sure, but I believe it included not only almonds and sunflower seeds, but also, if I am correct in my guess - ramen noodles.  Whatever it had in it, it was some really tasty stuff.  After dinner and more checking out the goats, we found a motel and hit Walmart to get Annalee a new bathing suit and both kids some floaties.  The hotel had an indoor pool, and even Virginia was able to get in a little swimming.  She floated in a little baby floaty and splashed and kicked her little legs for all they were worth.  After swimming the kids went to sleep pretty well, and I sat down with my printed out catalog (they had run out of official sale catalogs for the evening) and began reviewing my notes.

Nice door prize.
more Generator granddaughters, these with Sports Kat on the bottom
I know it would probably be frowned upon, but I swear I am going to start bringing either a dental mirror or mechanic's mirror with me to these sales.  I may even have to bring something with a light when very young black goats are involved.  Trying to check their udders requires all sorts of contortions I am just too old to pull off with any sort of decorum.  Sometimes I can't tell if there even is an udder down there.  Having learned a few lessons about questionable udders, we try to make sure we check every one and make notes.  It is obvious which goats are carrying good weight and muscle and which are not.  When we get to see twins for sale, it is interesting to see if one appears to be much nicer than the other.  I would love to see in a year if this remains the same or if they change.  There were some very nice twins at the sale, as well as several doelings from one farm by a few of their sires.  We could see how similar the doelings were in body type for two of the sires in particular.

nice little percentage doelings
We heard some buyers say they were there for some NZs, and some for some percentages (I was there for both) and we heard one lament that there weren't as many does of an age to be bred this fall.  There were some, but there were also a lot of weanlings that probably won't be ready to breed this fall without some considerable groceries to speed growth.
more percentage does by one buck, with very similar body types
Annalee had taken a notion she wanted to be in the youth Skill A Thon.  I used to do 4-H, and was familiar with the old Hippology contests and Horse Bowl and Horse Judging, so I googled it and quizzed her on the questions I could find.  She really did a great job memorizing answers to things like gestation time, fat vs water soluble vitamins, normal body temperature, etc.  Saturday morning, she was torn between wanting to go to the Skill A Thon or to go to a local attraction that advertised having an indoor aquarium and allowing kids to fish in a catch and release pond.  When we saw that the Skill A Thon was more hands on and included more about cuts of meat than about goat health facts, a trip to Go Fish Georgia won out.  Chuck took Virginia over to be ready for the sale to start, and I took the other two over to check out the fishing place. 

We arrived at Go Fish Georgia, got a map at the desk, and went straight back to the fishing pond out back. Each kid picked out a rod and we got a bag of bait (cut up hot dogs) out of the cooler and found ourselves a quiet place on the bank. The quiet place happened to be where the wind was aiming at us, so after having to figure out the little reels (okay, it has been a while since I fished as a kid) I cast for the kids and they sat down to fish. I noticed nobody else around the pond actually was catching any fish, but before we ran out of bait, Chip did have two hard hits where his bobber jerked under about a foot and he actually witnessed it happen, which made all the difference.  I also reminded them a few times that there is a reason the activity is called "fishing" rather than "catching."  That sneaky little fish stole his bait each time, but he was excited to have gotten the nibble. After Annalee got over trying to swing the rod like a baseball bat, she got so she could cast about thirty feet out more often than not. They got tired about the time the bait ran out, so we went off in search of the alligator exhibit. 
A study in concentration.
One of the pond windows at Go Fish Georgia.

Looking for Mr Limpet.
Look out Bill Dance!
Nasty looking character (on the right).

On the way to the alligators, we checked out the indoor hatchery and saw the tiny baby fish.  We saw the big breeder fish, and the hapless goldfish that was destined to become the breeder fish's dinner.  The kids wanted to save it but I mentioned the circle of life, and Annalee excitedly recounted a lesson at her school about how energy is transferred, so they didn't start a rally to save the goldfish.  The exhibits were really wonderful - it truly was like looking into a cross section of a pond.  I wish we had had more time to linger, but Chuck was getting tired of texting back and forth about the sale goats as the bidding was going on.  We saw catfish as large as Chip, and brightly colored bream, and we saw the allgator and the snapping turtles!  I had told the kids about snapping turtles, but this was their first good look at one.  We don't have alligators up where we live, but we do have snapping turtles.  I've always said I'll never move any further South because I will not live where there are alligators.  The snapping turtles and copperheads we have are quite enough.  We hit the gift shop on the way out and heading back over to the Fairgrounds, stuffed snakes in hand.
nice buckling in the ring

I arrived back at the sale barn as they were auctioning a nice young buckling.  The sale itself was, in our opinion, a pretty good one.  There were some quality goats there in all denominations - percentage, Purebred, and New Zealand.  We spoke after the sale to some folks and we all seem to agree that buyers have an idea what they are after, and are pretty picky about it.  Evidence of this at this sale was the fact that a nice Purebred would generally bring more than a fair New Zealand, and nice percentages were often bringing more than average Purebreds, as well.  By nice, I mean good bodied, decent legged goats with reasonable udders.  I also saw again that if we ever bring goats to sell at one of these sales, we will invest in a little extra feed for them.  A goat that is a little thin doesn't bring the bids that a sleeker animal does.  Dr Sparks was explaining the value of thin but thrifty does that have just weaned kids a few times, but it didn't seem to open up a lot of pursestrings.  There were a few does I wish I had the money to buy that I feel did not bring as much as they were worth (one nice little doe was her farm's high indexing goat and I'd have been happy to have had her, but was just tapped), but we only had a certain amount to spend and, for better or worse, Annalee had fallen in love with a goat and we wanted to try to bid on it for her if any of the budget was left.  If it had been a poor looking goat it would have been easy to say no and show her why, but we just told her we would see what happened and set our mental limit. 
two Generator granddaughters, one of which came home with us
We had figured the black SDR Nanook Onyx Bear does would go high due to clumps of people hanging around their pen, and also a young doe that was a Sports Kat cross on the top and a Rusty cross on the bottom (because she was the one I wanted).  She was one of the ones that looked good on paper but even better in person.  There were a lot of fall born does in the sale, and it made me wish again I could get my does to breed in May.  There were lots of nice percentage doelings, too - chunky little does that were higher percentage in actuality than their registration indicated.  We had some concerns that Annalee's 50%er would sell high because I saw countless kids stop at her pen and just stare dreamily at her.  I even saw some teenage boys over there watching her like she was a movie starlet.  What is it they say - cute trumps good any day of the week? 
nice doeling - Sports Kat cross on top, Rusty cross on bottom, and now at our farm
By the end of the sale, we had come away with two NZ doelings, and three 50% does, one of which was an actual fullblood and the other two that were actually 75%.  We get a lot of calls about percentage does and we have nothing to offer, and I figured I wanted to start off ahead with high percentage Kikos as a base for our percentage group.  We also got Annalee's very loudly colored goat, although I had leaned over and told her we had hit the limit and I was afraid someone else would be taking her home.  It seems it was the other bidders' limit, too, so Annalee got her goat.  She was not so thrilled to learn that cleaning her room without grief was how she was going to pay for her goat, but she had named the doe Georgia before we had even left the fairgrounds.

the stands during the sale

our purchases coming to get loaded

Before we left, we visited with some producers that have become friends, and we met several more for the first time and put names to faces.  I bought a couple of bags of high copper minerals because the ones I had ordered never showed up and it turns out the feed store found they are a special order, and in his words, he doubted he'd ever be able to get them in for me.  I'm going to try these minerals, and I am also having a forage test done to see just what really is in our forage, and if the high iron in the soil truly makes for high iron (or something else) in the pastures.
Virginia had quite a view for the ride home (other than her brother passed out next to her).
It was a pretty uneventful ride home, and most of it was during the night.  We found one of the precentage does was already getting her head stuck outside the cage in the truck, so we wonder if she is just born to be a pipehead (what Chuck calls the goats who wear pipes across their horns to avoid hanging themselves in the fence).  Georgia has a lot of lovely little towns with tangible character and quiet beauty.  We went through one small town that was not only the home of the creator of the Uncle Remus tales, but also of Alice Walker.  I was incredulous that Chuck had never heard of Uncle Remus, but I had to remind myself he isn't from the South, and he had at least heard of Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby.  I was as excited to find myself in the birthplace of Alice Walker as a teenage girl is to see Justin Bieber.  I love The Color Purple, and Chuck was familiar enough with the movie to understand my giddiness.

Annalee's new goat, "Georgia"
I was happy to see sale prices all over the place at this sale.  There were solid, if young, percentage doelings going for as low as $275, and the top selling goats were over $1200 if I remember correctly.  There were lots of bidders, and lots of buyers, as we tried to jot down the winning bidders' numbers for each goat.  I like seeing good goats going home with a lot of different people.  I think it is good for the breed.  I am already planning our trip down to this sale next year, including another trip to the Go Fish Georgia center.  We had such a great time, and really enjoyed the very friendly atmosphere, free from drama, with goat friends old and new.