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.

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