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.
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.
May rivals December in our house for busiest month of the year. There haven’t been any blog posts for about a month because we have been so busy, not because nothing was happening. So, here’s what we have been up to since our last update.
Amanda had her 6th grade band concert. She has been playing trumpet for 2 years now, but this is the first concert due to all the COVID issues.
We attended the Connecticut Dairy Goat Association show with our herd. Quinn and Amanda both had a good time, but it was a LONG day. We left home at 5:30am and didn’t get back until 7:30pm. They both agreed that fairs are better (but I think it’s because of the fair food). Amanda was 2 of 10 and Quinn was 9 of 12 in showmanship. I even got in the ring with Cinnamon. The kids did a great job getting the animals ready and managing them for the day.
Amanda turned 12 and wanted to go on a bike ride on her birthday. Specifically, she wanted to ride on the Kingston bike path where there is a convenient ice cream shop about 5.5 miles into the ride. We ended up doing 12 miles on her 12th birthday.
Quinn had junior prom. They chose to make a variant of a jacket/skirt combo. This was an original design, completely sewn by Quinn (including the buttons and button holes). This will go into their portfolio for fashion design school, which is the leading choice post-high school pursuits.
Anna and Amanda have been spending a lot of time in the garden. Amanda has her own sections of the garden for planting what she wants. They work together to map out which veggies go where.
For Memorial Day weekend, we decided not to attend the New York Adventure endurance ride. We had a few tack issues at VERDA and with the cost of fuel, we just decided it was too much. Instead, we stayed local and camped with West Greenwich Horsemen’s Association in Exeter, RI (about 9 miles from home). The weather was stormy on Friday night, so Amanda and I set up camp and Anna, Alex, and Quinn brought the horses over on Saturday morning. Only 1 mile in to the first ride on Saturday, Quinn determined Missy was lame and came back to camp. We loaded her up on the trailer and went home to get Eli instead. Eli got some hock injections earlier this season and has been slowly making a return to heavier work. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, Amira, Mojo, and Huey got around 27 miles each and Eli got 15. Quinn and Alex elected to stay at home Saturday night and take care of the rest of the animals.
Quinn was inducted into the National Honor Society and also won an Excellence in Mathematics award at school to wrap up their junior year. Oh yeah, and they have a driver’s license now.
Today was our 23rd Anniversary! We celebrated with a ride on the horses. Amanda (on Huey) joined Anna (on Amira) and I (on Missy) for 11 miles this morning. After lunch, Alex (on Mojo) and Quinn (on Eli) went out for a ride as well. They got a little turned around and ended up doing 14 miles.
Now we are ending the week with some Princess Cake that Amanda and Anna made. Apparently we also ate it 23 years ago today.
Bitterblue’s LSD Phaylene started off our 2022 goat kidding season on Friday afternoon with twin 7.5lb bucklings. Idikka Yoshi and Phaylene make some nice kids together. Here’s the planned pedigree. https://adgagenetics.org/PlannedPedigree.aspx
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.
While at work today, I walked out of a conference room following an hour and a half of meetings and picked up my cell phone. A quick glance at the screen made my heart rate skyrocket. I had 4 missed calls from Anna and the kids and more than 10 text messages. There was no voicemail notice, so it was bad enough they didn’t have time to leave a voicemail. I knew Anna wasn’t home at the time and reading the first text message confirmed my immediate suspicion: one of the goats was kidding.
Alex had gone out to do his assigned cleaning of a goat shelter and discovered an extra goat kid in the pen being cleaned off Longvu Log Tabula Rasa. Alex went inside and notified Quinn who immediately took charge of the situation and moved Tabula and her 8.8lb doe kid into the kidding stall; the 9.7lb buck kid was born a short time later. Quinn and Amanda made sure both kids got toweled dry and by the time I was bringing my heart rate back under control, everything was pretty much over. Quinn and Amanda monitored Tabula until she passed the placentas, then helped the kids nurse to ensure they got some colostrum. Alex actually left to go for a 6 mile trail run since the other had it under control.
On Sunday, Dauntless Obsidian gave us 2 doe kids that weighed in at 7.8lbs and 7.4lbs. The birth for Obsidian was pretty rough and we weren’t sure she was going to survive. Her twin does were pulled and taken into the house. Obsidian is making a recovery, but her kids will be raised as bottle babies. This means we have 2 goat kids living in a tote in the living room for now. They get will get bottles about 4 times a day plus play time with the kids (human type).
Days like today make me very proud of the kids and their level of responsibility. This brings our new total to 5 buck kids and 4 doe kids. Our last doe will kid in mid-May.
Dinner tonight was potato soup and fresh bread (2 loaves of gluten free and 2 loaves of regular) cooked by Quinn. The potatoes were from our garden.
Amanda has been learning to milk the goats. We use the milk every day.
Dessert was mint chocolate chip ice cream with milk from the goats and eggs from the chickens.
Of course, you only use egg yolks to make ice cream, so you have leftover egg whites. Why not make a few meringues?
Maybe tomorrow we will make another batch of goat cheese and pair it with some red wine after dinner. Speaking of dinner, I think steaks from our locally sourced beef, spaghetti squash from our garden, and homemade mashed potatoes from our garden sounds like a good idea. Of course, herbs from the garden are handy for flavoring the cheese.
After a 5 year hiatus, we have decided to get back into goats (it was mostly Rob’s idea). Lamanchas were our preference and we have started gathering our new herd of Lamanchas. In this picture is Tulsi, a 4 year old doe in milk we purchased last weekend with her kid from this year. Tulsi is currently giving us a little over 2 quarts of milk per day with her kid still nursing.
Milking Tulsi is Quinn, or as they were formerly known, Vicki. A few weeks ago they decided to change their name to Quinn. While we haven’t processed the full court name change yet, it will likely happen in the future.
Last night, I had an unexplained allergic reaction that resulted in a short trip to the ER. As a result of being up until 2am and the meds making me so drowsy, I went to work for only a few minutes and then to see the Dr’s. I got some more meds and came home for rest. Around noon, Anna woke me and informed me West View Swan’s Saffron was kidding. I joined Anna and Vicki for the event in the kidding stall.
Saffron is a 4th freshener 5 year old who gave 11-12 lbs of milk a day last year.
This is an udder that has “popped” meaning looks like 14 hours since it has been milked and is stretched tight. Don’t milk her, just get your kidding supplies by the back door, because it means you won’t be waiting long. For Saffron, imminent signs of kidding included lots of pawing, grunting, visible contractions for about 40 min, and then baby goats.
We are raising all the kids as bottle babies this year. Since Anna doesn’t want to trek back and forth to the barn all day and night, they are in the office in a dog crate starting out.
Saffron gave us 2 doe kids: the dark one is Sawyer Farm’s Milky Way and the light one is Sawyer Farm’s Caramel. It appears this year’s name theme will be candy.
Here is Vicki holding Milky Way. She is very excited to have babies to bottle feed again.
Our new farm is a little smaller than the last, however, the usable land actually makes it better. There is about 1 acre in the back that was made for goats. In fact, it even had old 4″ square fencing up. Unfortunately, it was so old, we had to remove it all to make it goat proof again. It took about a week of work, but today, I finally finished getting the entire perimeter fenced in with hard wire. We plan to subdivide a little and make some additional isolation pens, but that can wait until after everything else is moved.
The acre that is now a goat pen is completely covered in poison ivy that is about 12-18″ high at this point. Additionally, there are briars and other general brush plants growing. This makes it ideal for the goats. In fact, they probably won’t need any hay for a while. The only downside is getting more poison ivy on my arms from milking goats.
Here are some pictures of the area and the herd getting there first taste. It was getting dim, but I wanted to take some day one photos. If you have considered goats for clearing poison ivy, come see the before for yourself. Just swing by the old house and grab some boxes on the way.