Overnight Monday night into Tuesday we got about 7-8 inches of snow. School had already been cancelled for all the kids, Rob’s work event was cancelled and I was the only one who had somewhere to be (the dentist), so not a big deal. Turns out the dentist was still open and in business, definitely not calling in a snow day. So I got up early to take care of some chores and feed baby goats before I had to leave.
Early Tuesday morning our baby goat count was four. Sawfish Jasmine kidded last Friday and added two bucklings to Sawfish Camellia’s two doelings from the previous Saturday. Jasmine’s boys were named Chevy and Ford by the kids! Chevy is the solid black and red with a star like mama’s. He was 9.3 pounds at birth. The black with red and white markings is Ford, and he was a little smaller at 7.8 pounds. Jasmine needed my help with the first boy, but after that the second one came out without assistance. Jasmine is a smaller, slower maturing doe and a first freshener, so I am not surprised she had a little trouble with a 9 plus pound kid. They both presented normal (two feet, nose), which I am grateful for, being alone on the farm with Rob away on business travel.
Camellia’s doe babies Mercedes and Porsche continue to be doing well and Mercedes (the splashy colored one) in particular is a heap of trouble, hopping around the kitchen and causing mayhem. Porsche is a little quieter, but also a bit more solid in structure IMO. They started going out into the garage pens with heat lamps and will transition to living out there and not in the house. Eventually as weather and temperatures allow, they will move into our outside baby pen.
Well, enough of the update, back to the snow day. In the barn, I went to check on Sawfish Freesia, who had a March 2 due date, and she was showing some signs that maybe today was the day to kid. She was breathing heavier than normal, her belly had dropped low compared to yesterday and her ligaments were loose. Her udder was also full, but no discharge. I went to have my cup of tea and coffee, and when I came back to the barn, she had delivered two babies! She might be a keeper. Her mom LongvuTabula Rasa also had easy deliveries. One 7.8 pound doeling and 8.6 pound buckling. Black with tan doeling and black with red buckling with white splashes. We brought them inside to warm up. The kids named them Audi and Harley (I know, not a car, but he has the tough look, apparently). They are both long legged, and will likely take after their mom who is a longer and taller statured goat.
All the goat babies so far are very similar in color. Freesia, Jasmine and Camellia all have the same dad, Idikka Yoshi (out of Barnowl Quartermaster), and were bred to the same buck, so the kids are very similar in look. Black and tan or red, with some sort of white marking. More splashy white on some, only a star or white tail tip on others. Several look a lot like their dad, E.B Farms LL Regal, especially Chevy.
With babies settled, I went off to the dentist, Rob was working from home, and Quinn and Amanda tended to the babies and took care of Freesia. All is well.
Later in the afternoon, Amanda decided she wanted to try skijouring behind Mojo, so we cleaned the stalls and then got Mojo out. He was game, and besides it is good pre cart training, right? We are working on harness training Mojo to drive. Amanda got tired quickly and decided a sled might be a better idea. We also added a lunging aid breeching to help keep Mojo from stepping on the traces from his breast collar.
Check out some short clips from this adventure below:
Stay tuned as we are expecting babies from wonder goat Phaylene next in about two weeks. Think pink!
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.
We spent some time decorating outside today. This year we added a 20′ Christmas tree of lights. It looks really nice as the first snow is falling this evening.
Last weekend, the family picked out our Christmas tree and it has been getting decorated. It usually take 15-20 minutes of bickering before we find “the right one” which usually just means no one cares anymore. That said, I love the fact that we have so many cut-your-own tree farms around us and can have an annual tradition like this.
Also last weekend, Amanda participated in a youth Pheasant hunt at my gun club. While she gets to hunt over Rusty with me, this was a chance for her to hunt over a different dog and with other youth. She had a great time.
Tonight we played Trash pandas. With all the kids. Sometimes that’s what’s important. Amanda picked out the game at Walmart. It was cute. A little card game with a competitive streak. There was a little attitude about playing at first from some members, but it resolved. Rob got a picture of a raccoon on his game camera behind the house while we were playing. Coincidence?
Last weekend, Alex and Amanda joined me (Rob) at the CT Trailmixers Fall Fling trail race. It’s a 400 minute race around a 2.2 mile trail loop. You can do as many or as few loops as you want. This was Amanda’s first trail race. We left the house at 5:30 to get to the race and temperatures were in the upper 20s when we started. None of us had been training so we didn’t have high expectations. Amanda did 2 loops, Rob did 3, and Alex did 4 (just to do 1 more than Dad).
It was great to race with the kids, but I made the choice to stop after 3 loops to avoid doing too much while under-trained. It was a serious wake up call for how much fitness I have lost; the scales show the lack of commitment.
Much to Anna’s chagrin, I am a very goal oriented person (and maybe a little bit cyclic). Without a goal on the horizon, I don’t commit to incremental work that would sustain my fitness and weight. So it’s time to set some goals and commit to the journey. This is generally known as my bad idea’s amongst my close running friends; registering for events when I’m nowhere near trained or ready.
Twisted Branch 100k running race, August 2023. I have never run more than a trail marathon. I’ve been lurking on the edge of ultra-running, but haven’t committed to breaking through the distance ceiling. That ends in 2023.
Traprock 50k. In 2022, Alex and I ran the Traprock 17k. It’s a tough course and there was no way I would have finished the 50k in 2022. I registered for this one because if I can’t do a 50k by mid-April, then I’m way off track for the 100k in August.
It’s likely that there will be other trail races on the schedule (like the CT Trailmixers Spring Fling – 600 minutes on a 2.2 mile trail loop). Alex and I plan to do some Ride and Ties and there are some other goals for 2023, but regaining my fitness has to be #1.
I see this in meme’s all the time and the truth has become completely clear to me recently. “You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day… unless you are busy, then you should sit for an hour” – Zen Saying
My favorite part of fall is sitting by an outside fire on Sunday evening before the week starts back. The brisk New England temperatures and early sunset are a perfect combination to relax and get ready for the next week.
We took Fiona on her first trail adventure last week. I ponied her off of Missy while Anna rode Amira.
This weekend we replaced the roof on the concrete building that used to be a chicken coop and is now a goat shelter. Camellia wanted to help.
Once the goat shelter was finished, Amanda and I went to the gun range. She spent the hour before sunset shooting my .300BO to get ready for her first deer hunt next weekend. Her accuracy was surprisingly good and she enjoyed the swinging plates because the give immediate feedback.
I’m trying to find ways to slow down and do more with kids before they are gone.
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.
Last week was the second week of August, which means it was time for our annual pilgrimage to Fryeburg, Maine and the Pine Tree Endurance Ride.
But before we get to the ride, we should do a little catching up. The last weekend of July is always the New London County 4-H Fair. Unfortunately after over 2 years of avoiding the ‘Rona, Amanda came home from 4-H camp with the big C. That meant she was still in isolation and unable to attend the 4-H Fair. Quinn and Kaylin (Amanda’s friend that leases our goats) were still able to attend and enjoy a weekend showing the goats. I also took some amateur radio equipment and got some kids interested in radio activities.
While Amanda was definitely disappointed to not attend the fair, she was focused on getting better for the trip to Maine. Since the rides didn’t start until Wednesday this year, Amanda and I were able to run in the Griswold Sunflower 6k road race on Sunday before going to Maine. Yes, 1 week post-Covid, Amanda ran a road race (with the assistance of her inhaler). With over 500 participants, it was the largest race she has done to date.
Monday morning, we got up at 3:30 to get horses and goats fed before hitting the road. With temperatures rising into the 90s, we wanted to get the traveling done before the heat got too bad. We made it to Fryeburg before lunch and got to work setting up camp. We decided to take a nap through the heat of the afternoon and then hand grazed the horses. Not too many people were in camp so it was a nice easy start to the week.
Tuesday morning included a tack ride to take the horses across the river and check out the first few miles of the trail. This was our 5th trip to Pine Tree and the river was the lowest we have ever seen; Rusty could walk all the way across. Here is a short video of the horses crossing the river. It was another hot day so they were all enjoying splashing water up on their bellies. Huey and Mojo decided to drop and roll in the sand on the other side of the river. Luckily, no one got rolled on, and horses were caught and remounted. After the ride, we went swimming before vetting in the horses and attending the ride meeting.
Wednesday morning brought a wake up at 0400! Alex and Quinn had a start time of 0600 for their 50 mile ride and Anna and Amanda followed at 0630 for the 25 mile start. There were 12 riders in the 50 miler and 13 in the 25 miler.
Quinn and Alex had a 16 mile loop to the first hold, the same loop Amanda and Anna would also follow. The first hold was an away hold at the Hemlock covered bridge which gave the horses a 45 minute break. The kids rode at a reasonable pace, keeping in mind that the goal was to finish and not to race; they had no trouble clearing the first vet check.
Anna and Amanda riding the 25 mile distance had the same 16 mile loop starting out. There was a bit of a pile up of LD (limited distance) riders at first, but the field of riders managed to space out as the ride went along. Anna and Amanda made it to the hold, and vetted through with no issues.
The second loop for Alex and Quinn was 22 miles. The first 7 miles of the second loop was the same for both groups of riders, however after crossing the river for the third time, the 50 milers went back into the fields and forest roads. Both groups crossed the river a fourth time for their second vet check and 45 minute hold at the fairgrounds.
Anna and Amanda had only 9 miles back to camp with three river crossings and the trails were nice, mostly back woods snowmobile trails that allowed a little faster pace. There was a little bit of gravel road and some winding through a local campground. Anna and Amanda made it back to camp with a ride time a little over 5 hours and vetted through for a completion.
So, what happens at an endurance vet check? First, your horse has to pulse down to whatever the pulse parameter is within 30 minutes of arriving. For the hold it is usually 64 beats per minutes (bpm), sometimes 60 bpm. For the finish it is almost always 60 bpm for limited distance. Your hold time doesn’t start until the pulse is reached. At the finish, your time doesn’t stop until the pulse parameter is reached (for limited distance riders). After checking pulse, the vet checks your horse for soundness, by watching the rider trot the horse in-hand out and back, as well as the CRI (cardiac recovery index), by retaking pulse a minute later after the trot out. Ideally, the pulse should stay the same or be lower. A 4 beat increase is usually acceptable, 8 is questionable, but more than that indicates your horse is really tired and you may have over ridden your horse. Amira was 60/48 at the finish, which means she needed to move around to get the cooled blood circulating and once she did, her heart rate dropped more. The vet also checks hydration parameters such as gum capillary refill, jugular refill, skin tenting, gut sounds in all four quadrants, and anal tone. The also checks for wounds, back soreness, tack galls, and other swelling. If your horse fails something other than pulse, you have 60 minutes to try and rectify it and do a recheck.
Alex and Quinn made it back from their second loop and the horses passed the vet check. They went to have some lunch in the trailer while we tended to the horses, fed them mash, cleaned off their sweat and let them graze. Alex and Quinn then headed out on their third loop of 14 miles, with 4 more Saco river crossings (bringing the total for the day to 8).
The kids made it back to the fairgrounds a little after 5 pm. The allowed time to complete a 50 mile ride is 12 hours including holds, so they made it. The horses were already at pulse having walked in so both Mojo and Missy vetted through with no issues. Eleven out of twelve riders finished the 50. While Alex and Quinn came in together, Alex stopped short of the finish line by 10 yards to allow the official clock to tick over by one minute to take the coveted last place “turtle” award which was a pair of turtle socks.
The goal for Anna and Amanda was to complete the Trifecta, three days of LD rides, so the next morning we got up and tacked up Huey and Amira for a 6 am start. Ride management had decided to start the 50s and the 25s at the same time to help manage time well at the away hold. The horses were a little less enthusiastic about heading out, but it was a nice morning and not too hot. The loops were the same as the previous day and Anna and Amanda got to the hold within 10 minutes of the previous elapsed time.
The second loop was uneventful and Amanda and Anna had their 2nd day of the Trifecta in the books.
Friday morning brought another 4am wakeup and 6am start. Anna, Amanda, Amira, and Huey were all feeling the effects of 2 previous days of 25 mile rides, but they hit the trail with a dwindling group. While 6 or 7 riders initially started the Trifecta, only 4 were still in it on day 3. The entire field of 50 and 25 mile riders was only 18 horses. As before, Amira and Huey had no problems with the course and still showed up at the away hold within 10 minutes of the first day elapsed time. While we didn’t capture any photos of it actually occurring, Quinn spent the day scribing for the vets.
Amira and Huey both enjoyed their mash and grazing with Ken and Liz. Rob’s parents made the drive from Alabama to Maine for the 4th time to spend the week at Pine Tree with the grandkids and crewing for the ride.
At the finish, Amira and Huey both made pulse easily. The wear of 3 days of 25 miles each was showing as both horses got a few B’s on the ride card in areas such as back soreness, hydration, and impulsion. BUT, both horses completed the Trifecta of 3×25 miles in 3 days! As if that wasn’t enough, this completion put Huey over the 500 LD mile mark, which was Amanda’s major goal for the season!
Missy and Mojo had been resting on Thursday and Friday after their successful 50 milers on Wednesday. On Saturday, it was back to work for them. Temperatures were in the 50s on Saturday morning, so we actually used rump rugs to keep the horses hind end muscles warm at the start. This time, Quinn headed out for a 25 mile ride on Missy while Mojo was in for 25 miles of Ride and Tie with Rob and Alex. If you haven’t read our previous explanations of Ride and Tie (R&T), it’s 2 people and 1 horse. Someone is running and someone is riding. Basically, the first rider sprints ahead, jumps off the horse, ties the horse to a tree, and takes of running. The second teammate starts on foot, runs until they find the horse, unties the horse, and rides the horse to pass the first teammate. They keep alternating like this for 25 miles.
The ride attendance on Saturday was very disappointing. There were only 2 riders in the 50 miler, 3 in the 25, and 1 R&T team. Quinn rode with our friend Caitlyn and they both had a plan to just complete the ride. With such a small field, there was really no reason to push the horses to race. Rob and Alex wanted to push themselves to get the R&T done in the best time they could. Since R&T doesn’t have a time limit, there is usually flexibility in the start time. We elected to start only 5 minutes after the rest of the field, but that turned out to be a mistake. You see, Mojo could see Missy and kept wanting to catch up. Quinn and Caitlyn were having a very leisurely first 2 miles of walking which meant we had to walk with Mojo to prevent overtaking them. Mojo doesn’t like to be held back at the start.
Once we finally had some separation, Alex and I were able to settle into a rhythm. Rob would ride Mojo around 3/4 of a mile and then tie him. Alex would come along and untie and start riding. By the time Alex would catch Rob, it had been far enough that they would do a “running tie” or basically just swap without tying Mojo. In the end, Rob and Alex did 23 exchanges (the minimum is 6 exchanges). At the hold, Mojo got excited because he saw the other horses again and he was super enthusiastic on the second loop.
Missy vetted through the finish with no issues. Mojo arrived just a few minutes later and also vetted through. Mojo clearly could have done 50 miles on Saturday based on how he was at the finish. Rob and Alex completed the 25 mile R&T in 5:20 for their 3rd R&T completion.
I made a video along the trail about R&T and how we leave Mojo in the woods. Check it out here!
Overall, we had an extremely successful week. 10 starts and 10 completions. 2 horses completed the 25 mile Trifecta and the other 2 did a 50 followed by a 25 3 days later. 75 miles for all 4 horses in 4 days. Huey got his first ride at Pine Tree and 19 completions later, he crossed the 500 miles in competition mark at Pine Tree. We have to thank Susan Niedoroda, the ride manager, and vets Art King and Joan Hiltz for making the event happen!
As is the tradition in our family (started by Liz and Ken), the last night in camp was spent blowing bubbles around sunset. We were able to convince a number of the others who were still in camp to join in.
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.