Category Archives: kids

Celebrating Amanda!

Our baby turned 14 on Saturday! Quinn took Amanda and two friends to the Providence Mall to go shopping, eat food, and play at Dave and Buster’s. We weren’t invited. In addition to a bunch of clothes, Amanda wanted a new tack set for JJ in her pink and purple colors.

On Monday evening, we attended the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) Scholar Leader Banquet. Amanda was one of two students from Griswold Middle School chosen for this award. The GMS Principal explained he allows the teachers to make the selection of awardees each year. The award is bestowed based on scholarship, leadership, and community involvement. The event was held at the Aqua Turf Club and included a formal dinner. Each student got to choose a teacher to attend with them and Amanda chose her 7th grade Language Arts teacher.

Amanda will be attending the Marine Science Magnet High School in the Fall.

The Spice Girls’ Baby Goats and Phaylene kids

Can I just say crazy couple of baby goat weeks…We had 7 baby goats in mid March. Two from Tulsi, two from Carolina and preemie triplets from Jasmine.

On Monday March 18, Chili was giving me all the indications she was planning to out her babies, but she wasn’t due until Friday, so I left her out with the others. She is a drama queen goat, and doesn’t like to be isolated by herself.

Well, after morning chores I decided to check on her and then go deal with milk dishes. An hour later I came out to check on her and she had two babies on the ground already. An almost 9 pound buckling and a small 5 pound doeling. We named them Kauai and Kipu. Kauai got Chili’s frosted nose and ears, but Kipu certainly got her personality as she is a little diva already. Chili has been great settling into being a milking goat and is super easy to hand milk. She is still opiniated and will let us know if we forget to bring out the alfalfa.

Later that week, on Thursday, Rob and I had been invited to an equine educational evening sponsored by Flemings Feed. It was informational and dinner was great with some awesome desserts. We came home and went to check on Pepper in the barn, who was due Saturday, and low and behold, she had one buck kid on the ground and was pushing out a second! Pepper had eaten dinner on the stand 45 minutes earlier with the kids…

We named Pepper’s boys Principe and Palau. Our naming theme this year is Vacation islands.

Here are some pictures from the foursome being outside last week. The three boys are available as pet wethers, as is Tulsi’s buckling Trinidad, if anyone’s looking. Kipu is staying here.

Last Tuesday April 9 Phaylene, our aged doe, kidded with triplets. We had been watching her all day, but it wasn’t until we left the barn to have dinner that she decided to kid. We sent Amanda out after dinner and she called the house screaming “babies!”. There were two kids out and a third on the way. Two doelings, one buckling, all pretty small at 6.6-6 pounds. Phaylene did great and is already cranking out over a gallon a day.

Phaylene’s triplets

Quinn and Amanda named the kids Minna, Malta, and Mykonos (where Rob and I honey mooned). These may be Phaylene’s last kids depending on how she looks this year, as she is 9 years old, and Quinn wants to retire her. One of Phay’s doelings is likely to be available.

The current baby goat count is 14, with one goat left to kid.

Porsche is our last pregnant doe, due May 10, with kids from Fox’s Pride KS Smooth Swagger. Amanda is really hoping for a doe kid out of this breeding, as she doesn’t have one yet this year from her project does. Porsche is a yearling, and while we don’t usually breed our yearlings, Porsche was on the heavy side and plenty big enough at 110 pounds last fall. Keep your fingers crossed for her!

More Baby Goats!

It’s been a busy few weeks on the farm. Rob has been traveling a lot, and when not traveling, he has been running, a lot, in preparation for his 50 K in April. Both Jasmine and Carolina kidded the first week of March.

Before Jasmine’s and Carolina’s kids arrived we were dealing with an abortion by Camellia about a month out from her due date. She ended up testing positive for CVV, Cache Valley Virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and a threat to does in their first or second month of gestation. There is nothing you can do to avoid it, other than not breed until the mosquitoes have died off. This last fall was so warm, that wasn’t really an option. Does that contract the virus are then immune. Amanda was disappointed, of course, since Camellia is her project animal, and they have a special bond, but that is part of life on the farm. To top it off, Camellia ended up having a retained placenta, and we had to watch her carefully and give her some medications to help her clean out and recover. Camellia did not come into milk, so she will be taking the year off showing, unless she goes to a pet class or two at the fairs.

Jasmine was not due to kid until March 10, but went into labor on March 3. Her udder had been filling that weekend, so we knew something was up. She delivered three small triplet does, 6.5, 6.3 and 5 pound babies. They were 7 days early, and were a little quiet and needed to stay in the house a few extra days, but are growing and eating, weighing in in the mid teens currently. The kids named them Bahamas (Baha), Bali (the one with all the white), and Barbados (Barbie). The B babies are holding their own. Two of Jasmine’s doelings will be available. Likely Barbie, and Baha, but Quinn hasn’t finished deciding between Baha and Bali yet.

Carolina kidded on March 5. She was due on March 7, but kidded two days early which is within the normal window. Her labor stalled and we had to investigate what was going on. We found two heads, and three feet (not good). After Quinn and I trying to push one back and find the missing leg of the other for a while, but they were tangled, we decided it was time to call out our vet. The kids were big, and we just could not dislodge the first one. Of course, Rob was on travel to DC. Our vet, Cara Kneser, lives close to us and was on site in less than 15 minutes. After some pulling, pushing and lots of lube, she managed to get the first baby (a buck of course) unstuck and out, and the second kid, a doeling, was pulled right behind. They were both alive, which was a miracle, and poor Carolina was super sore and needed some tlc for a few days, but she appears to be bouncing back. The kids named the buck Crete, and the doeling Chrysi (greek island). They are both retained.

Carolina’s kids, Crete and Chrysi barely an hour old

The kids are now living in the garage pens, and we took them outside in the drive way for some play time, Chili and Pepper are up next for kidding, due on Friday and Saturday next week.

We have also been looking at ways to save on our hay bill, because as we all know, alfalfa at $50 a bale and second cut upwards of $12, the cost has been rising here in the Northeast. We decided to try out using a round bale with the goats after sourcing some nice second cut bales. We used a combo panel to wrap around the bale and covered it with an easy up. So far, the goats approve. It’s also their new favorite napping spot.

First baby goats of 2024!

Last Sunday Tulsi was due to kid. We had been bringing her in at night for a few days, as her udder was filled and her ligaments were getting soft. Sunday morning she was clearly uncomfortable breathing heavy and starting to paw, so we knew it was the day. We had ultra sounded her with twins, so that was what we were expecting. I fed her and went about morning chores. Not too long after that she went into labor and delivered twins, one doe and one buck. They were both nose and toes, though the buckling had one front leg bent back, so I had to assist a little with that.

The kids named the doeling Tahiti, and the buckling Trinidad. The doeling was 7.3 pounds and the buckling 7.5 pounds. Vacation islands is our naming theme for this year. Last year was car makes. Tahiti is the one with less white on her. The babies get to hang out with us in the kitchen for a few days, and then transition to living in pens in our garage until the winter weather has passed and they are ready to go live in the baby pen. We choose to bottle raise to socialize the kids to like people, which makes them friendly and easier to handle and show. Raising them separate from the does also allows us to keep their environment cleaner to reduce their parasite load and they can be sold sooner as bottle babies if desired.

Tulsi is doing great. She is producing a gallon of milk per day already, and her udder has increased capacity from last year when she was a milking yearling.

The babies have unfolded and are enjoying the attention they get from the kids when living in the kitchen, they got disbudded last night and starting tomorrow they will go out to the garage during the day, to stretch their legs and not make such a mess in the house. They are currently getting bottle fed five times a day, and will transition to the grey nipples and their lambar over the next few weeks.

Next up for kidding is Carolina on March 7 and Jasmine on March 10. Jasmine is huge, likely carrying triplets, so she might go early, Hoping for easy deliveries and healthy kids and mamas.

God Jul!

Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! God Jul! Feliz Navidad! We are enjoying a quiet Christmas at home this year.

Due to Anna’s surgery and Rob’s injury, Christmas cards fell to the wayside this year. To those of you who sent cards, thank you! We will likely send out cards again next year.

Rob has had a busy and productive year at Sonalysts. When he was not working there, he was working on the farm, or hunting, running, riding, fishing, and whatever else he could find to not sit still. As many of you know, he had a cart accident with Huey in September that he is still recovering from, but he is back to running, riding and hunting, so that is a good sign.

Anna became a US citizen this year! She voted for the first time as well. Anna spent a lot of time training Fiona and let the kids compete Amira in all but one distance ride. This December Anna had a total right hip replacement, and will be recovering from that into the spring.

Alex finished the nuclear technology program at Three Rivers and spent the summer interning at Millstone Nuclear Plant again. This fall he started at URI to finish a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a Nuclear minor. He still enjoys riding Mojo, going trail running, and is the protector of his siblings.

Quinn graduated high school and is attending Eastern CT State University for a double major of computer science and data science. Quinn has claimed Fiona as theirs, and enjoys sewing dresses and other creations, along with showing our dairy goats.

Amanda is in 8th grade, working on making her high school choices. She is currently riding our new horse JJ and it seems to be a great match for her. She is also going hunting with dad, biking and running as time allows. Amanda went to the Big E with our dairy goats this year and enjoyed showing them at fairs and shows throughout the summer.

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We hope to see all our friends out there enjoying life in the New Year.

Winter riding

This afternoon Alex and Amanda went out into Pachaug for a trail ride. Alex rode Mojo and Amanda rode JJ. Alex is in the middle of finals still, but we all know he doesn’t ever study, so… They did some trotting and the report I got from Alex is “he feels sound”. Mojo spent two months or so slightly off after the Pine tree endurance ride. We did a lameness exam, x-rays and appropriate blocks along with ultrasound and concluded that Mojo’s pastern angles were unfavorable and he had some caudal heel pain going on. Whether it was an injury to the insertion point of the DDFT, pain from the navicular bursa, or slight arthritis starting between P2 and P3, we are not sure, but we decided not to do a standing MRI to find out more, as the treatment was the same for all three. Mojo was trimmed more aggressively at the toe and put into shoes with a wedge to give him relief from the pain he was having and change the angle of his pastern bones. After a few weeks his soundness was definitely improved; it’s been almost 10 weeks now and he looks pretty good.

Amanda has ridden JJ now both in the arena and on trail. When I’ve been working in the arena with Gamble, she has ridden JJ walk/trot and over poles (and a little canter, but JJ is still out of shape and weak behind). JJ is pretty chill riding wise, but gets nervous when tied up for tacking, especially if out of view of her herd. I believe consistency and patience will cure this, just like it has with Fiona.

Amanda and Alex rode 4 miles up to the farmhouse on Lee Rd and back and had no major issues.

Meanwhile, at the house, Quinn tacked up Fiona and worked with her in the arena. Quinn designed and sewed a winter riding skirt and plans to use it while riding Fiona this winter. Fiona can be a bit reactive to flappy things so it is a work in progress, but the skirt is working out so far. Dad helped her get on safely today. The skirt is made out of a waterproof fleece lined material, with a real wool filling and fancy lining fabric. There is a zipper on the back and a little flap preventing your bum from getting wet when open. There is a two way zipper in the front and there are snaps in the front snapping the sides up for mounting. Quinn also has straps that snap around the leg to keep the skirt from sliding off your leg when moving faster. Quinn chose this design over a full circle skirt due to weight and bulk. It is also easier for chores than a full circle skirt.

For those that do not know, I had a total right hip replacement surgery on Wednesday this week. It has been a long time coming. I was told it was inevitable in 2017 and probably wouldn’t make it through the winter in 2021. My sockets are deep and over time hitting the femur repeatedly on the edge, running, riding, biking, any lateral movement really, creating bone spurs, wearing out the cartilage and tearing my labrum repeatedly has created “severe osteoarthritis”. My hip balls were no longer round and my range of motion was very limited. So, it was time.

I am doing ok. The surgery was at 7:30 Wednesday morning and I was discharged at 4:15 that afternoon. I am walking around with a walker or cane for safety and have been outside walking for 2 days now. I am starting PT next week and will likely do the other hip next year. No riding for 12 weeks. The hardest part so far is lifting my leg up due to weakness in my quads and pain from the incision site.

Amira is having a Prostride injection into her tendon sheath injury from August to hopefully reduce it’s appearance (though she is not lame) so we can rehab together.

Sawyer Summer Update

It’s been a summer. You know how some years it doesn’t seem like things align and happen like you planned? Sh*t happens everywhere you turn? Well, this summer has been a bit like that. We tried to make the best of it. We haven’t blogged in a while, because really who wants to write about life when life gives you lemons? Anyways, here it goes, a summer update as we move into fall.

Let’s start back with the last weekend of July when Quinn and Amanda participated in the Windham County 4-H fair. It was a very small fair compared to New London County, which is our home county. The New London County 4-H fair was moved to the second weekend in August, due to a popular local fair changing their dates. This is an ongoing conflict for us with our annual trip to Fryeburg ME and the Pinetree Endurance Ride. The kids are deciding on changing counties, moving clubs and/or going independent. Attending another county’s fair makes them miss out on club challenges and other participation at the fair, such as being a superintendent of an event or species show. They are also not eligible to compete in Premier Showmanship, even if they win top showman for their project animal. It turns out Quinn and Amanda had the only goats at the Windham 4-H Fair. The judge still gave them decent ring time and practice for their showmanship, even though they were only competing with each other. Phaylene won best senior doe (duh) and Pepper was best junior doe. Quinn and Amanda enjoyed entering the obstacle course challenge with two of the goats. A massive storm swept in Saturday night and the goat barn flooded, so Rob brought the goats home to stay dry.

In the week between the 4-H fair and leaving for Pine tree, we lost two animals on the farm. Amanda’s 8 year old Rhinelander rabbit Pretty Paw and our barn cat Barbie. Barbie had developed a massive tumor, and was getting really skinny so we decided it was time.

The following weekend we packed up and headed out to the Pinetree endurance ride. Our friend Sonja came up on Saturday and stayed over at our place for the night. The next morning we loaded Amira and Mojo and headed for Fryeburg. About an hour out from the fairgrounds Sonja started having some engine trouble with her truck. We sent the kids and horses on to camp (Quinn was driving the horse trailer). It turns out Sonja’s aux fuel tank was low on fuel and was sucking air each time she went up a hill. Rob stayed with Sonja and we drove on to camp on her main fuel tank. Excitement before the ride even started! We got camp set up and all was well.

Monday we went tubing, it was cold, like low 60s, the river was high due to all the recent rains and then it started raining while we were still on the water. A lot. We were frozen by the time the tubing shuttle got us back to the car. We were quite thankful for nice hot showers in camp.

Liz and Ken made it to camp that evening, just in time for the torrential rains to continue. We stalled the horses and Amira was not happy (understatement), we had to literally close her in with the dutch doors shut and she kept spinning in circles. We had vetted in to ride Tuesday, but decided not to in the morning, because the rain was cold, Amira had not been drinking well, and we didn’t want to feel like the previous day and have wet saddles for the rest of the week. I know, we are fair weather riders…

On Wednesday we got up and sent Alex on Mojo and Quinn on Amira out on trail in the 25. The trail was wet and slick. They made it to the vet check and vetted through. Unfortunately at the finish check back at camp, Amira was lame. She had a cramp on her hind left leg in her inside groin area. We worked on her for an hour, but she was still off. So, Quinn did not get a completion. It became clear, in the next 24 hours that she had a tendon sheath injury to her left hind based on the swelling that built up.

We planned to send Amanda out on Mojo Thursday morning, however, Mojo was lame when he was checked before the start. It appeared to be in his shoulder. It’s been 5 weeks of rest and he is still not quite right so we are investing in more diagnostics to see what we can figure out. Since we didn’t have any horses to ride, the family spent time volunteering at the away hold and with vet checks or anywhere we were needed.

On Friday, Amanda got a catch ride offer from our friend Jenn Jacobson. Jenn’s young Arab, Haley, had already done 2 days of LDs and Jenn wanted her to go out for a 3rd. Amanda rode with Mary Palumbo as a sponsor. Unfortunately, at the end of the ride, Haley was lame with the same symptoms as Amira 2 days prior and they also didn’t get a completion. Haley did recover after a couple of days, so we are glad that wasn’t a bigger problem for her.

Ken and Liz have a tradition of blowing bubbles with the grandkids and any bystanders get sucked in to participate as well.

In late August, goats went to the Brooklyn Fair. Quinn didn’t attend this show due to orientation at Eastern Connecticut State University. Rob and Amanda showed 10 of the goats in the 1 day event and came home with a decent amount of premium money.

Labor Day weekend meant camping with goats at the Haddam Neck Fair. There were over 80 goats at the fair and I believe 39 of them were Lamanchas. Quinn spent a fair amount of time studying for college classes, while Amanda enjoyed hanging out in the pens, teaching the public about the goats.

Rob’s company, Sonalysts, had their 50th anniversary party in September. We got all dressed up for an evening out.

This past weekend, the Connecticut Valley Driving Club put on a driving demonstration at the Berlin Fair. The agenda included introductions of the various horses and ponies, some background on their breeds, discussions about different carts and carriages, how to harness, and of course, driving demonstrations. The space being used was between the tractor pulls and an amphitheater, so it was quite loud. The event was being held on the go cart track which has a clay track and grass inner circle. Rob and Amanda were driving Huey when the nearby concert stage reved up and spooked Huey. He bolted across the field and as he hit the clay, Huey crashed and Rob was thrown from the cart onto the track.

Amanda was able to jump while still on the grass; she is bruised but otherwise ok. Huey bolted out of the area but was caught with some assistance from the rest of the club. He was stiff afterwards but not injured.

Rob was taken by ambulance to a trauma center with 4 broken ribs and a collapsed left lung. They put in a chest tube for the collapsed lung and to drain fluid build up from the broken ribs. He also has a severely bruised hip. He spent 3 nights in the hospital. He is back at home, but it will be 6-8 weeks for full recovery.

Our immediate plans include an end of the 4-H year trip with the goats to the Big E next weekend. Amira looks sound, but still has a bump on her tendon where the fluid accumulated so she will get another ultrasound to check things out. Mojo will get some diagnostics to figure out why is still lame and a path forward, hopefully to soundness. Fiona is doing well, walk-trot in the arena and about 50 miles of walking on the trails. Not having friends for her to go out with lately has put a damper on trail riding. Huey will rest for a week, get some trail walks by hand in the forest next week, and we will evaluate whether we put him back to work or not. We definitely want to rule out any pain reasons for the wreck last weekend.

The goats will all get bred next month, fingers crossed, for late Feb-March babies. We have a few changes happening to the goat herd, but that will be another post. Maybe after the big E. Stay tuned.

Firecracker Endurance Ride 2023

For the first weekend in July, Rob and the kids went to Maine for an endurance ride weekend. Since we only have 2 horses competing this summer, Anna stayed home to care for the baby goats born in late June and everything else on the farm. Quinn and Alex both assisted with driving to Waterford, Maine for the Horses Across Maine Firecracker Endurance ride.

We headed up on Friday morning and set up camp. This was our third trip to this ride, so we knew what to expect. On Saturday morning, we got up at 0400 and everyone was ready for the 0600 start. Amanda rode Mojo (with our friend Mary sponsoring her) and Quinn rode Amira for a 30 mile LD. Rob and Alex were the crew. It was warm (about 70F) and very humid. Both horses were doing fine at the hold after the first 13 miles and headed out for the second loop. Quinn opted to ride separate from Mary and Amanda on the second loop and it was reported that Mojo had lots of go.

At the finish, Amira took an exceptionally long time to make her pulse of 60 required for completion. Her pulse was hanging around 72 no matter what we did, even though her body wasn’t particularly warm. Art King, one of the ride vets we see quite often suggested using some no-salt, which is Potassium Chloride. We gave Amira a hefty tablespoon of KCl in a syringe and her heart rate was under 60 in less than 1 minute! We had the same issue at New York Adventure and have finally figured out how to beat it. Mojo and Amira passed the final vet check without any other issues.

After Saturday’s ride, we took a nap and hung out around ride camp. 4 people for only 2 horses makes easy work of the chores. The horses got poultice on their legs and wraps overnight because they both had another 30 miles to do on Sunday.

Sunday morning was another 0400 wakeup and this time it was Alex on Mojo and Quinn again on Amira for 30 miles. It started raining before they even came in to the hold and basically didn’t stop until after the ride was over. Based on the lesson about KCl, as soon as we saw Amira’s pulse in the 70s, we dosed her. This resulted in much faster pulse times. This is a tool to keep in mind for any of the high-humidity rides. In the end, both Mojo and Amira did fine at the ride and looked great after back-to-back 30s. I didn’t get many pictures due to the rain.

Back at Father’s Day, we went to a local ropes course for a couple of hours of climbing fun. This was a Christmas gift from Rob’s parents. Anna isn’t a fan of heights and opted to be the event photographer. Rob and the kids had fun climbing through the courses and riding the ziplines.

Goats and Grads

Last weekend, Quinn, Amanda, and Rob went to Deerfield, NH for a 6-ring dairy goat show. Anna drove up to drop off a trailer on Friday and returned on Sunday for pickup. The weather was raw with highs around 50F each day and on-off rain throughout the weekend. We didn’t expect to have any major wins, but it was a great chance to see how our young herd was stacking up against others in the region. Our juniors are showing some promise, so that means the breeding is headed in the right direction. Quinn and Amanda helped some friends out with showing Nubians too.

Quinn got to drive the 2500HD and travel trailer home (2.5hrs). This was the first time driving the setup and everything went fine.

As the end of the school year approached, Marine Science Magnet High School held an awards night. Quinn received the Senior Mathematics Excellence Award and a $1000 PTO scholarship.

Thursday was graduation and Rob’s parents flew in from Alabama. Quinn graduated Suma Cum Lauda and will be attending Eastern Connecticut State University in the Fall to major in Computer Science. That’s two in college now (I think we are getting old).

Today, Rob and Quinn took 2 horses to Vermont to ride with our friend Geneva. Geneva recently moved to VT and we saw her a couple of weeks ago at NY Adventure. Rob rode Mojo, Geneva rode Amira, and Quinn rode Geneva’s mare Hopper. It was a 3 hour drive to get there and Quinn drove the whole way pulling the horse trailer. Quinn is now certified to drive either truck pulling any of the trailers.