Sawfish Camellia started off our kidding season today with a super easy delivery of twin does. She was due yesterday and based on how big her udder got earlier this week, we actually expected her to deliver about 36-48 hours earlier. Amanda didn’t have school on Friday, so she set up a hammock in the barn Thursday night and did hourly checks on Camellia (Camellia is her goat). Unfortunately, the temperatures were in the 20s last night so she had to sleep inside.
Throughout the day, we were checking on Camellia every hour. Around 1, Amanda came into the house and announced she saw discharge and kidding was imminent. She went back to the barn and called the house almost immediately to announce “there were feet “I see feet!” 15 mins later we had twin does at 7.1 and 7.2 lbs.
This year, we have shifted to all bottle babies. That means we are pulling the kids at birth and they are coming into the house for a few days before moving into a kid pen. We made this choice because the bottle babies are just always friendlier and easier to handle. It also means kids we are selling can leave earlier.
This year’s name theme is cars. The baby with a lot of white on her face is Sawfish AS Mercedes (barn name Merce) and the black and brown faced doe is Sawfish AS Porsche. The AS in their names is for Amanda Sawyer since they are in her herd.
This morning, Anna snapped a picture of Camellia’s udder while she was on the stand. Once Camellia kidded, we hand milked her for the colostrum for her babies. I honestly don’t think we have ever had a first freshener that was as easy to hand milk so fast after kidding. In the first 5 hours she has given us 2 quarts of colostrum and didn’t kick the milking bucket even once. Let’s hope that continues!
We have 2 more first fresheners due over the next two weeks. We will be retaining one of either Mercedes or Porsche and the other will be available for purchase.
It’s been 2 months since we made a blog post. Not too much has been happening around here, but we thought we should share an update regardless. School started back in August.
Huey is officially retiring as a riding pony and we have a better harness on order for him. We are keeping an eye out for a nicer cart for him, probably a type of two wheeled road cart. The goal for Huey will be distance driving and pleasure driving with a possible CDE. The last weekend in August, we took Huey to a driving clinic with the Barre Riding and Driving Club in MA on Saturday.
On Sunday that weekend we showed goats at the Brooklyn fair. Rob won adult showmanship!
Labor Day weekend we took Huey to a get together with the Connecticut Valley Driving Club to work on cones and marathon style obstacles at a local farm.
Taking care of the farm has been on the back burner this summer and we have a few unfinished projects that need our attention before winter sets in. The first work weekend was mid-month. We tore down two rotten three board fence lines and replaced them with no climb and top boards and painted everything that was wood white. It looks great.
We spent the next weekend replacing two main posts holding up the back side of the barn and adding support skirts to keep the dirt inside the stalls. This included replacing most of the siding and taking off all the boards lining the stall walls, as well, since we had to strip the boards off to get to the framework.
Mojo is getting his own harness and learning to drive. Rob bought a project marathon cart that needs some work on the brakes, and the goal is to have Mojo driving next spring. He already ground drives and long lines, and we have skijoured off of him, so I think he is game.
The weekend of 9/24-25 Rob, Anna, and Amanda decided to take a staycation break. We camped out at Arcadia in RI. It was a joint event hosted by NEATO and West Greenwich Horsemen’s Association. We are members of both. Unfortunately, NEATO is folding due to lack of membership and no new leadership willing to step in, and this was a Farewell Ride for NEATO.
Quinn and Alex came over to ride Mojo and Amira Saturday morning, but had their own plans for the rest of the weekend. Rob drove Huey with Amanda on Saturday and drove Huey alongside our friend Melissa and her mini on Sunday, totaling 19 miles of driving in 2 days. Amanda rode Mojo with Anna on Amira on Sunday, giving Mojo and Amira about 25 miles over the 2 days. Amanda got some hammock time.
That week, on Thursday through Saturday, Quinn took Phaylene, Jasmine, and Pepper to the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) for the 4-H Youth Show. They had a nice time, earning second place in Fitting, and Phaylene won best senior lamancha, while Pepper won best junior lamancha. They learned a lot and plan to attend next year (Amanda will also be old enough to attend). Quinn was asked to join the advisory committee for the show for next year.
Amanda was chosen to be one of the two middle school representative to the board of education. She attends meetings about once a month to give an update on what is happening in Griswold Middle School. Luckily, she doesn’t have to stay for the whole meeting.
Earlier in the summer, Amanda attended the Green Mountain Conservation Camp in VT and completed her hunter safety courses. She has been practicing on the skeet field and is now carrying her own 20ga shotgun; she took her first pheasant last weekend.
Rob and Amanda took Huey to a pleasure drive in Litchfield CT at the White Memorial park last weekend. It was a gathering of 3 different driving clubs and they drove Huey 7.5 miles.
Last year, Amanda and Anna won the West Greenwich Horseman’s Association pumpkin/vegetable decorating contest at the annual Fall Fest potluck. This year, Amanda created an “Under the Sea” scene with a sea anemone, clown fish, and octopus and successfully defended her title. Anna also won best dessert.
Other than that, it’s been pretty quiet around here.
The North Stonington Fair was held from Thursday-Sunday this past weekend, July 14-17, 2022. We were there with our goats and for the first time, Huey in the driving show.
On Thursday, we arrived before lunch and got our goats settled in. The kids hung out around the goat pens while I did some work on my laptop in the travel trailer. The fair opened up at 5pm and the kids headed out for some rides and fair food. Unfortunately, the fair had to close early at 9pm due to electrical problems. We were using our generator for the travel trailer, so it didn’t really affect our living situation.
Friday was spent with the kids clipping udders and managing the goats as the fair was again closed during the day and only opened for the night. The nice thing about this type of setup is it gives us an easy day, but it makes the entire event longer.
Saturday morning finally brought the goat show. Quinn, Amanda, and Kaylin all spent about 6 hours handling goats. Kaylin is one of Amanda’s best friends and leases goats for us through 4-H. She camps with us at all the fairs and contributes to the clipping and preps for the shows.
Kaylin beat Amanda in showmanship, placing 2nd to Amanda’s 3rd. This is huge because the judge said the difference between the two was confidence in the answers. While Amanda is usually pretty confident, it has been great to see Kaylin come out of her shell and feel comfortable with the goats. Amanda was using Camelia this weekend because we chose to leave Rainbow (her normal showmanship goat) at home due to her not being in top condition.
Our crew did a great job showing the 8 goats we took and we ended up with the Champion Jr Lamancha, Champion Sr Lamancha, and lots of other ribbons. The kids also got to handle some Nubians and Toggenburgs for other families.
On Sunday morning, the kids took care of chores and Anna brought Huey to the fair with his cart. The Connecticut Valley Driving Club (CVDC), which we are members of, was hosting the driving competition at the fair. In years’ past, we didn’t participate, but now that the kids are a little older, we decided to give it a show.
This was the first driving show for Huey, Amanda, and Rob. We watched a few YouTube videos to try and understand what to expect, and then decided to give it a shot. Amanda’s debut was in the “Ladies to Drive” class against three women with a lot more experience. We were all a little surprised when Amanda and Huey took the blue ribbon! Next, Rob and Huey were in the “Gentlemen to Drive” class and captured another blue ribbon. In the open driving class, Rob and Huey took 3rd. In the Novice class, Amanda again took 1st! After the lunch break, we had the cones class and scurry; we had never driven him in cones previously. Amanda got 5th in cones, but Rob took 1st out of 10 entries. In scurry, Rob dropped to 4th and Amanda had to leave for 4-H camp. Luckily, Quinn was able to step in for Amanda and take another 1st!
Of all the classes, I think Amanda’s performance in Novice to Drive was the most impressive. The class included 6 entries ranging from a mini stallion to a pair of 5yo Spotted Drafts. Amanda did a great job navigating the crowded arena and kept her cool for a class that was about 10 minutes long. Here is a video of most of the action.
All told, Huey took 1st place in 5 of the 6 classes he was entered in and racked up a whopping $390 in premiums! Not bad for a 21 year old pony’s debut in driving. The family was super excited with his performance and looks forward to some more driving shows as he eyes retirement from distance riding.
This weekend was the North Stonington fair. In 2012, we showed goats for the first time at that fair. After 6 summers without goats, we made our return to the fair scene and the goat barn with our Lamanchas. And it rained. A lot. I saw estimates that we had between 3.5-4″ of rain in just over 24 hours, but let’s not jump ahead too much.
Last fall, we rebuilt our herd of Lamanchas and had 5 does that kidded this spring. We have already sold some goats, but at this point we have 3 does in milk, 2 dry yearlings, and 5 baby doelings (plus a buck and his wether companion). Quinn and Amanda wanted to show goats and this was their first time back in the ring. Another one of the girls from the 4-H club, Kaylin, leased some goats as a 4-H project. The three of them have been working hard at getting the goats ready – clipping, studying, handling, etc. Thursday afternoon, we loaded up the trailer with goats and headed to the North Stonington fairgrounds. We got the pens set up and the kids did finishing touches on clipping and cleaned up udders on the goats. After that, they headed out as a group to ride the fair rides and eat some dinner. Fair food!
Everything was going well, but there was this little rainstorm coming through. Let’s call it, Elsa. Elsa was a tropical storm as it passed through the area. It started raining overnight Thursday to Friday, and it kept raining. A lot. The fairgrounds were already pretty saturated from rain over the previous week. The area where the travel trailers were parked was a bog. You couldn’t get to the trailers without rubber boots. But we took care of the animals and retreated to the trailer for some food and hanging out until the rain subsided.
The rain ended Friday afternoon, and all the exhibitors started emerging from their hiding places. Due to all the rain and standing water, the fair didn’t officially open on Friday evening. After some back and forth, the fair board did decide to allow the youth goat show to go forward on Friday evening since all the goats and exhibitors were already present. So, at 6:30 pm Friday, the youth show started with 60+ goats.
The show didn’t end until about 9:30 and by the time the kids were done with chores, everyone was ready for a shower and some sleep. As I started to fall asleep, another big storm hit the fairgrounds and dumped another inch or so of water on the already saturated grounds. We woke up Saturday to find that our canopy was destroyed overnight, but the weather was clear. The show on Saturday included ~160 goats. It took all day.
At the end of the day on Saturday, we headed home with a trailer full of tired goats and 3 4-Hers who had a great time working together. They showed all our goats and helped others show Alpines, Nubians, Oberhaslis, and others. On the way home, they were talking about the next show, making an FAQ for the stalls (“why don’t your goats have any ears?”), and in general looking forward to the next show.
Goats are a lot of work and cost a lot money. But watching the kids work together, take responsibility for the animals, build their confidence the in show ring and speaking to the public makes it all worth it.
This weekend was busy with horse knowledge competitions. Saturday, Anna went to the CT 4-H Hippology competition with Vicki and Amanda. Vicki and Alexis were competing as Juniors in the 10-13 year old division on a team with another member of the Happy Hoofbeats 4-H Club. Amanda was in the Novice division, 7-10 year olds, that all compete as individuals. Hippology consists of a written test, slide identifications, stations, horse judging videos and team group questions. Vicki’s team took 1st place in the Junior division and Amanda had the high score for the Novice division.
While the girls were away, Alex spent the day with riding with me to trim some horses, starting with a visit to see Nike. Alex groomed Nike and was happy to reconnect with his buddy.
On Sunday, Vicki and Amanda went with me to the Regional Pony Club Quiz Rally to represent Mystic Pony Club (along with Alexis). In this competition, Alexis was competing as a Senior, so it was the first time in a long time that Vicki and Alexis haven’t been on a team for quiz. Since we only had 2 Juniors, Amanda and Vicki ended up on different teams -but they didn’t mind.
Pony Club quiz is a team competition with team made up of 3-4 individuals. A 3 man team is a disadvantage as a 4 man team can drop the lowest score for each competition phase. The kids also get individual scores which determine individual placings for high score and national intent. The phases of the competition are written test, stations, barn phase, mega room and class room. The stations score is not included in the individual score because it is a team effort (everyone works together to answer questions).
All 3 girls did a great job. Alexis got the highest overall individual score and was presented the trophy by Vicki, who won last year.
Vicki had the high score for the Jr D’s and 3rd overall individual.
Amanda is clearly learning from her “sisters” as she was 10 of 24 Jr D’s and actually outscored 3 Jr and Sr D’s with National Intent.
Alexis and Vicki both qualified for Nationals and will be the team captains for the Sr and Jr D teams respectively when they go to Tryon, NC in July.
Meanwhile at home, Anna and Alex went for a 2-hour trail ride on Teddy and Amira. Amira had a tough time keeping up with Teddy today as he was feeling good and showing off his moves.
After Vicki finished her home work this morning she begged me to help her make some blankets for her Breyer model horses. So we used some left over fabric from the pillow case project and some bias tape and sew on velcro to make some fabulous blankets. Vicki did ALL the sewing. I helped with some of the pinning and taught her how to make a pattern. She’s really happy with the outcome.