This morning started before sunrise as we left Ohio and headed into Indiana. As the sun came up, we saw deer everywhere. By the way, it’s REALLY flat in Indiana so you can see a long way. Illinois wins the worst road maintenance award of the 7 states we travelled through. We crossed the Mississippi and arrived at our destination of Dubuque, Iowa mid-afternoon. We checked in to the hotel and took a break before going shopping.
We found some things we liked and decided to buy.
SA Jack of Hearts (Gamble)SA Jeeka’s Jessica (JJ)
Joining our herd are SA Jack of Hearts (barn name Gamble) and SA Jeeka’s Jessica (barn name JJ). Gamble and JJ are both originally from Sun Arab Stables in Kentucky where we bought SA Fiona from Daunna Sellers; all three share the same Shagya sire, Bayram. Gamble and JJ are out of the same dam, a Thoroughbred named Oak Island Jeeka, so they are both Anglo-Shagyas. Here are the stats: Gamble is 10yo gelding, 16.1hh (maybe 16.2 – Anna is standing uphill) and JJ is a 14yo mare, 15.1-2hh. JJ has foaled previously and both have 2 Limited Distance endurance rides under the belt, although it’s been a few years.
We went out to get some sushi to celebrate. Early tomorrow morning we will start the drive home.
After lunch, we continued down the road to another horse trailer dealer. We stopped at Leonard Truck and Trailer in Ohio. With over 60 living quarters trailers in stock, it have us a chance to compare a number of different brands. We left with the trailer we rolled in with and continued on to Toledo, OH where we stopped for the night. Dinner at BWW included trivia and wings. Another full day tomorrow…
It was dark when we started this morning. The colors are past peak in PA. Made a detour to Treas horse trailers to look at living quarters horse trailers. We stopped at Dennys for lunch and now back on the road. We are on a secret road trip mission. Any guesses where we are headed? Hint: we have a layover tonight before the final destination.
Last night when Rob got home from work, we went for a walk in the forest. Our property directly borders Pachaug State Forest, Connecticut’s largest state forest. We walk out of our horse barn and are in the state forest in 20 yards. It is my absolute favorite thing about our house. Rusty loves the forest too!
Rusty in the creek just behind our house
There is something special and relaxing about hiking. I find it resets my inner peace. This time of year, the earthly smells of leaves and water, ground me like nothing else really does. Maybe the Japanese are right about that forest bathing thing…Exercise and nature fill up my bucket.
The blue trail is flooded by Heron Marsh due to beavers. Rusty was wondering why we wanted to go around.
We didn’t hike for very long, we walked for about 2 miles. The sun was setting and Rob is still recovering from his accident. He took a few running steps and said: “Not yet”. Yes, I agree. Not yet. Patience is a virtue.
Sun setting over Heron Marsh
We walked over to the “water fall”, which is a popular destination for our kids when they hike or run in the forest and we contemplated new better ways to connect to the Yellow CT Horse Council trail without having to go out to the main gravel road first. Maybe this is a good project for Rob’s recovery this winter. We had found an overgrown forest path several years ago, but never finished clearing it.
As we came down the path to the house, the kids texted that goat chores were done. The light was fading and the view of the sunset across the road was, as always, spectacular.
Back in July, Amanda attended the Girl’s Advanced Vermont Conservation Camp. This was her second year attending and the focus this summer was Waterfowling. Here are some photos from the camp that include Amanda.
Before we start, thank you to everyone who has checked in and sent well wishes, cards, baskets, etc since my (Rob’s) injury. I am recovering well, even if I do overdo it occasionally. My lung capacity is back to full strength and now its just a matter of letting the ribs finish healing. I have been hiking (5 miles this weekend) to restore some fitness.
September 29 – October 3, most of our herd of Lamanchas was at the Eastern States Exposition, aka The Big E. The Big E is essentially the New England Fair. Thursday through Saturday is all about the 4-H goat show and Sunday is an open goat show. Last year was Quinn’s first time attending the 4-H goat show and this year Amanda was old enough to attend as well. The animals move in on Thursday afternoon and the kids move their gear into the on-site (15 min away) dorms. Since Rob was recovering from the broken ribs, he camped in our travel trailer at the Big E instead of chaperoning 4-Hers in the dorm. Quinn and Amanda had 10 of our goats at the fair: 4 milkers, 2 dry yearlings, and 4 2023 kids. There were only 2 other lamanchas attending: 1 milker and 1 kid.
Thursday evening at 7pm, all the milkers get milked out as part of a milk test to see how much each doe produces in 24 hours; Thursday evening establishes the zero point for each doe. The goats are then milked again at 7am Friday and 7 pm Friday. The weight of the milk is recorded for the Friday milk outs and samples are sent off for testing. For milk outs, other 4-Hers jumped in to help get the does milked quickly. Sawfish Camellia (owned by Amanda) ended up winning the milking competition for Lamanchas producing 7.4lbs in 24hrs as a first freshener that kidded in February!
4-Hers helping milkCamellia won best milker for the Lamanchas!
The kids have to be in the dorm at 10pm and get up at 5:30. After the Friday morning milk out, there were competitions for showmanship and fitting. Showmanship is all about how well the exhibitor has prepared. It includes handling ability, knowledge questions, and overall presentation. Fitting is all about preparation of the animal, mainly the clip job and hoof care. Showmanship and fitting competitions are conducted by age groups of the exhibitors and the breed of the animal doesn’t matter. These competitions took well into Friday afternoon.
The judge for the event was Julie Matthys, a well known Lamancha (and other breeds) breeder from Indiana under the herd Mint Leaf Lamanchas. She did a seminar with the youth on Friday afternoon covering topics such as nutrition and disease prevention. Friday evening the kids had to participate in a stations activity before the ice cream social. I think they made it back to the dorms at 10 on the nose.
Saturday morning was the breed competitions. This time, the judge was placing each class against others in the breed. Again, Quinn and Amanda recruited other CT 4-Her’s to help show since we had multiple animals in the same classes.
Around 3pm Saturday, the 4-H show ended and many of the animals departed. Later in the evening, another 200 or so goats started arriving for the Open Show on Sunday, which included a decent number of Lamanchas. Sunday was a standard ADGA show and Anna even entered the ring! Quinn and Amanda enjoyed talking with other breeders and learning details from more experienced herds.
Even though we didn’t have any huge wins in the classes, we were surprised to find out Quinn won Premier Exhibitor and Premier Breeder for Lamanchas! We assume this was based on total points and the fact that we had about half the Lamanchas in the show probably helped.
We wanted to get some nice setup/show photos of all the goats, but honestly it was so busy that things just didn’t work out. We did get a few.
Sawfish CamelliaSawfish FreesiaSawfish JasmineBitterblue’s LSD PhayleneSawfish AS PepperLucky 4-Leaf E Red Hot Chili
We made it home at about 9:30pm on Sunday and the goats and everyone was exhausted. Breeding season is now in full swing as the does have been coming into heat. Late February to early March will be busy around the farm as we are breeding 8 does this year. At the end of long weekend, we actually came home with 1 more goat than we left with: Majenli LK Carolina joined our herd. This is doe is one that Rob fell in love with at the Big E in 2022 and when we found out she was available for sale, there was no discussion required. Carolina has already been bred to one of our bucks, Majenli LK Rip Wheeler.
Majenli LK Carolina (left) on a date with Majenli MK Rip Wheeler (right)
Anna decided to add a goat to the herd in August. Her name is E.B Farms Sunstone Tulsi. She was a yearling milker this year. We have dried her off and she has been bred to E.B. Farms LL Regal for late Feb kids.
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.
After 27 years of living in the USA (1 year as an au pair, 2 years in college, 24 years married), Anna became a citizen today. She actually retains her Swedish citizenship too, so basically, she can now vote and get a US Passport. And never have to deal with Immigration and Naturalization Services again. Quinn, Amanda, and I joined Anna at the ceremony (Alex was at work) in Hartford.
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.
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 with FreesiaAmanda with CamelliaWaiting on the next classGoats waiting to showAmanda with Tesla and Quinn with FerrariAmanda with Tesla and Quinn with Ferrari in Jr Best in breed lineupAmanda got tiredQuinn with FreesiaFreesiaAmanda with CamelliaCamelliaShowing NubiansAmanda with Camellia
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.
Quinn driving the F350 with the horses in backGeneva on AmiraQuinn (front) on Hopper