May 25, 2009

Report on Saturday

Well, the weekend is over and we all survived!

The markets are over. As usual I had fun at Bayou City, chatting with our regulars and introducing new people to the experience of goat milk products. Tim said that Sunset Valley in Austin went well also. Our second week at the market and we already had repeat business as well as promise of expanded business there. It is a long drive, but we have actually been spoiled as we know many farmers routinely drive much further to get to their markets. Plus we kinds like Austin. Some of our favorite thrift stores are there, plus that awesome deck at Central Market, not to mention one of our favorite...ah...haunts, the State Cemetery. (Call us odd, but we enjoy exploring cemeteries as a family, discussing the history and stories reflected in the people that rest there.)

The Hempstead goat show is over. Phew. The girls did relatively well at the concession stand, raising approximately $300 towards the vet bill for Cowboy's surgery. It really did my heart good to see them decide to put all of their hard work and monetary investment to this cause to bless their sister Grace, Cowboy's owner. It reminds me that regardless of how much they may sometimes argue, they love each other and are committed to each other.

As far as the goat show...first some explanation. A dairy goat show is where goats are judged against other goats against a scorecard of the perfect goat. The things that they are judged on may not make much sense at first, but they are all features which contribute towards a goat having a long, productive life. One example is having a wide body and rump. If they had a narrow body then when they come into milk and have a full udder there wont be room for that large udder. The udder will begin to break down and sag, which predisposes it to infections, also known as mastitis. If a goat does not have strong legs and feet, how well will she be able to carry a pregnancy every year? So, although it may seem purely like a goat beauty show, it has a purpose in helping us decide what goats are to be the backbone of the dairy and what goats would be better off retired to a home that wouldn't place as many demands on her. Tim does wonder what would happen if the Miss America competition was likewise designed around determining which contestant would prove to be good breeding stock and have high mothering potential. "And the mammary system on this contestant has good attachments but the capaciousness leaves a little to be desired..."

The goats...well, let's see. For our LaManchas, Sabine was commended for being 'well blended' but that she needed a more capacious udder, which should come with maturity. Her half sister Rosa Blanco was commended as having the most dairy character of all of the goats in her class but that she needed to be better blended which should also come with maturity. Neither placed very high but it was a tough class full of beautiful animals and we are encouraged that we are heading in the right department in our breeding. Sonnet was said to be very dairy and had nice build and a well built capacious udder but she had an unfortunate limp due to last minute hoof trimming and couldn't be placed higher than third. My Rose had to be scratched at the last minute due to having sustained a limp-causing injury, probably in tussling with another goat. That was disappointing.

In the Alpines...one of our does, Sydney was such a scaredy cat that she wouldn't even let the judges touch her so there was no real way that she could be judged. Her half sister Sophie needs to mature (she was the baby of the class) but that she was the most dairy of the whole class and had the best udder of the class. Way to go Sophie!

Our lone Nubian at the show, Star did very well. The judge did such a pronounced double take when she walked into the ring that Sara, who was showing her thought that Star had a gash or something on her side. The judge said that she knew from when she stepped in the ring that there was no doubt that she was the best goat in that class and placed her first. She said that, given a few more years , that she should improve to the point where she should definitely end up a finished champion. Katie is over the top thrilled, Star is the daughter of Katie's very first ever Nubian, Rhonda, her pride and joy.

The children who showed in showmanship did well. Whereas in the regular show the goats are being judged against that scorecard, in showmanship, the exhibitors are being judged on how well they know goats in general and their goat in specific. They are also judged on how well their animal was prepared for the show (trimmed, cleaned, etc) and how well they showed the goat to it's best advantage as well as how well they present themselves as 'professionals', dressed crisply in all white. (Well they try, after showing in the regular show they usually aren't that white anymore, especially after the mid-morning downpour!) They start at "Pee Wee" which just wants to see the tykes become familiar with the goats and know the basics ("what is your goat's name?"). Junior wants to see good animal preparation and knowledge of basic handling techniques as well as familiarity with the parts of the goat "Where is the loin? Where is the chine? What is a pastern?"). Senior showmanship starts getting really cut-throat. They are expected to know to the nth degree every conceivable part of the goat, as well as show some ability to correctly judge their animal "What is your doe's best feature? What needs improvement?") as well as expecting them to handle other people's goats with ease and composure and to have trained their goat to be able to be handled by anyone. In PeeWee, Liberty handled her goat very well, impressive considering that the goat that she showed weighs about four times what Liberty does! In the Juniors, Timothy did alright. Showmanship continues to be something that is an afterthought for him, I think. He wants to because everyone else does, so he doesn't put the work into it that the others do. This will be changing. He has been told that he cannot show in showmanship again if we do not see evidence that he is committed to working on it extensively prior to the show, that it wastes the judge's time and is a form of disrespect to the other kids who work their tooshies off to do well. Also in Junior, Emma placed second and Linnea placed third! We are really proud of both of them and very surprised as Linnea is very very good and very very competitive. I am not sure that she has spoken to Emma yet. (Evidently we have more character issues to work on with her about things like sportsmanship.) Sara did respectably well. She had some difficulties in the area of naming what she felt her doe needed to improve. What she said was right, she apparently didn't say enough.

The little boys wore Nathan out, I think. There is nothing to show you how well you are doing in your child training like seeing how your children act in the care of others. Time to buckle down and get to work on those little bundles of energy and will. Sorry, Nathan. (I am so embarrassed.)

So...the weekend is over. I think we did amazingly well. Now on to "real life". We have to go buy feed today, as well as bottles for milk. And I think we will switch jobs early this month and give everyone their new job list tonight rather than wait until June. I don't think I did a very good job dividing the work in an equitable fashion and some of my older girls are looking very worn out, so it is time to make some changes. Pray for me...I hate this aspect, someone is always unhappy, sometimes many are unhappy if they lose their favorite jobs and end up with one that the like less. But it takes everyone working together to get it all done. When it works well it is a joy and so rewarding to work as a family. When it does not work well it is very very hard. Also, this month for the first time I think Liberty (who will be seven in June) will be in charge of actually feeding an animal and watering it. I have never given that level of responsibility to anyone that young before but Liberty wants to and I believe that she can handle it. Where did my sweet baby girl go?

1 comment:

Whitney said...

I love to read your blog LeeAnne. :)

Sounds like a busy but fun weekend!

Would Star be Davy Crockett's half sister or full sister? I'm glad she did so well! That is really exciting! Davy's daughters are looking really nice and we can't wait to see what their mammary systems look like in milk next year.