The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair was in it's 91st year recently. As a child and later as an adult, I have always enjoyed attending the Royal. It is always so full of thrilling displays and so many different breeds of livestock, animal shows and demonstrations. For the past two years now, we have enjoyed the Royal experience from a different perspective - as an animal exhibitor! Last year I only brought 3 goats to the Royal with me as I was unsure what to expect being behind the scenes. It was such a memorable experience I could not wait to do it again! This year we had the pleasure of showing our goats at the Royal again and nothing could have prepared us for the amazing success we enjoyed there this year! More on that later!
This year, my daughter in law Erica accompanied me. We also brought some new friends and first time goat exhibitors! Annette from Sneaky Feet Farms joined us with her Grand daughter Joshlynn and her Nigerian Dwarf doeling Peanut as did Denver from Parliament Hill Farms with his parents Nancy and Don and their two little Nigerian doelings Daisy and Cocoa. We were "Team Nigie" and we were looking for some great times and some Royal ribbons! It is safe to say that we all had an amazing time and are already making plans for next year! One of the most memorable moments of this year's Royal was being chosen to coach the "Celebrity Showmanship Challenge" in the show ring. Erica helped me by coaching Bob Blumer while I coached Ben Mulroney in showing dairy goats. We used Denver's doelings Daisy and Cocoa for the showmanship. It was an amazing promotion for the dairy goat industry and we had a lot of fun doing it! You can watch the video here.
The Royal Winter Fair is an experience that has to be experienced to understand. All of our goats from "Team Nigie" did really well and I was so proud of Denver and Joshlynn for doing so good during the Youth Showmanship on our final day there. As for Sky River Meadows and our gang - we did amazing! Not only did our farm win the Premier Herdsman Award, but we also brought home the Premier Nigerian Exhibitor Award. Donna was overall Nigerian Dwarf Grand Champion and Best Udder and Carmela was the overall Nigerian Reserve Grand Champion. Carmela's daughter Neveah took home the Nigerian Reserve Jr. Champion which moved Daniel and the rest of us to tears. Neveah has had a miraculous year , coming from near death and none of thinking she would pull through to her big win at the Royal! She proves to us everyday that if you have the fight in you, anything is possible! You can see a full list of our placing's at the Royal here:
With the Royal done for another year all we can do is look forward to next year with excitement. We are all already making plans on how we can improve awareness of our breed and ensure that Nigerians no longer go unnoticed and begin to be taken seriously as dairy goats.
Some new and exciting news for us here at the Meadows is the new addition of Tripping Billies Delilah to our herd! She is a beautifully coloured doeling out of one of the Prairie Wood bucks that were imported last year and is the half sister to our dear Maisie! Thank you to Bashert Farms for allowing us to add yet another of your babies to our herd and for the use of your photo on our site! Delilah will be coming to live with us on June 1. We are very excited to meet her and see how she gets along in our rapidly growing herd!
Some of you may have noticed recent pictures of Carmela and the expanse of her "baby bump" if it can rightly even be called that! The mystery has been solved though, Carmela was not pregnant with a house like we suspected. This picture was taken on May 1 - exactly one week before she kidded with triplets! I wish I could say her delivery was perfect and that there was no trauma but . . . Poor Carmela was having great difficulty which was very reminiscent for me of last year when she kidded and had difficulty which resulted in the loss of her first kid Leo. After her contractions started in earnest it quickly became apparent that although we were presented with a sac and amniotic fluid, there were no babies evident. An exploration in the birth canal confirmed what I feared - Carmela's babies were either so large she would be unable to pass them OR they were in serious distress. An emergency call was placed to our vets at Muldrew Lake Veterinary Services and we anxiously awaited the arrival of Kelli, our vet. Carmela was clearly in distress by the time Kelli arrives so we immediately jumped into action to get everything sorted out. Carmela had a kid presented across her cervix which clearly was not going to be able to come out that way. Kelli got that kid turned but they quickly realized that there were other babies all wanting to come out at the same time! After sorting out which head belonged to which legs, Carmela's first kid came into the world. Our happiness quickly turned into sadness as we all looked upon this beautiful little soul who appeared to be quite still born. To our surprise it too a breath, and another, and another! It appeared as though this baby either had no bones or every bone in it's body was broken though as it seemed like a breathing bag of skin. We quickly had to decide to focus on the other kids - ones we could hopefully save. The next kid came out much easier and was passed off to our waiting helpers to dry and clean the kid. The third kid was quite a bit larger then the previous two and took some effort to deliver but Kelli is great at what she does and managed to get the last kid safely delivered.
After the second and third babies were cleaned and returned to our poor
Carmela we decided to assess the first little one as it was still fighting to
breathe! Kelli gave it a quick examination and determined that if it
wanted to live it would find a way so we started working on the first little
one. We determined that Carmela's first baby was the only girl of the three which made the whole sad situation ever more bittersweet. Not only was this tiny little doeling a fighter, but she was letting us know loud and clear that she intended to survive! I continued to rub and worm her tiny body up while getting Carmela into a clean dry stall with her two boys. The little girl had to strength and couldn't even hold up her own head! Amazingly though, within an hour after being born she was trying to stand! Within two hours she managed to nurse directly from Carmela as opposed to the bottle I had given her colostrum from.
Carmela and all three babies were incredibly weak. I did not sleep at all that first night while I stayed as close to her as possible and be ready for anything. Carmela was unable to nurse her babies as she was so weak her legs would give out after a few seconds of trying to stand. I had frozen colostrum that I heated and fed to the babies throughout the night. All the next day all 4 continued to be extremely weak and it was getting increasingly harder to get the babies to feed. Fortunately for me some good friends came by to offer their help and allow me to get a bit of sleep while they continued to feed the babies. I was starting to fear that we would lose them all. Then about 10:30 Thursday night, Carmela was able to stand long enough to nurse her babies with me helping to keep her upright! You could almost see the difference in the babies within a few hours and a few feedings later. Being able to nurse directly from their mother seemed to make all the difference in the world! Now here it is Saturday and you would never know that these were the same little babies! They are not only standing and nursing from their Mom unassisted, they are starting to hop and play! I finally feel that we are through the worst and that all will survive. As for our dear sweet Carmela, we have decided that her days as a breeding goat are over. Two difficult kiddings tell us that she is better suited to being the therapy goat I have been wanting her to be. Once she is done raising these current kids she will get to retire from breeding and enjoy some well deserved rest until she is needed to help heal someone else in need. She is so special and loveable, we know she will be happy in her new job.
What a busy weekend! We knew going into the weekend that the next batch of girls would begin having their babies but I never thought that we would be having two girls giving birth at the same time! Saturday was a beautiful and sunny day. Both Dixie and Donna were very restless and acting suspiciously like they were planning to have their babies but neither of them were showing signs of imminent delivery, so I just stayed close and kept an eye on them both. I was enjoying some shade and having a chat with a friend that was over when suddenly Donna began to push! I immediately jumped into action and helped her to deliver our first set of triplets! Donna blessed us with two beautiful girls and a gorgeous little boy! All 3 are healthy and so tiny!
No sooner had I delivered the third kid, Dixie immediately started pushing!! Before I knew it, Dixie had delivered a huge buckling followed very quickly by a doeling! Both are the spitting image of their Mom and are also very healthy and strong. I am so thankful that all babies and both Mom's are doing well. It was an eventful afternoon, one that our good friend Kevin may never forget as he was quickly thrust into the role of Doula to assist me with the deliveries. I am happy and proud to say that Kevin did awesome and was not the least bit squeamish! With all the excitement over and all the new Mom's and babies tucked into their nice clean pens, we enjoyed a fabulous steak BBQ! It was a perfect end to a wonderful day! We still have Carmela and Mimi due to kid this week to ensure I continue to get no rest! We are at 13 babies and counting! 3 more Mom's to kid and I can't wait to see how many babies we end up with!
I can't believe it has been over 4 months since my last post! It honestly feels like it has been years since my last entry as our lives have ben caught up in so much turmoil these last few months. So many changes have occurred in our lives - both good and bad and I will do my best to update everyone!
I guess I will start with the addition of Rosie to our herd. We took Rosie in as a foster from the OSPCA and after a short time decided to add her permanently to our herd. Rosie has a very ugly history which I will not share here but we are happy to report she is now very happy in her new home. She is showing improvements every day and is finally able to be without her winter jacket full time now that the weather is warmer and her hair is growing back in. Rosie loves food and treats and seems to be very fascinated with watching birds! She loves all the new babies that keep arriving and is often playing with them! We have grown to love Rosie in a very short time and are happy that she can live out her days with us here.
The worst part of the last few months has been dealing with the loss of a friend. Lindsay was tragically taken from all of us on April 5, 2013. She was the victim of a horrible and senseless murder at the hands of her ex boyfriend. Lindsay and I were in the same degree program at Nipissing U and she was supposed to be graduating with our class this June. She was a special woman who was always able to find the positive in every situation and took on life with such a zest that those who knew her couldn't help but be inspired by her! She will be forever missed but never forgotten. RIP sweet angel. ♥
Babies are arriving! So far we have 8 babies born and all are healthy and vigorous! CC blessed us with two beautiful boys - Apollo and Merak. Bonnie also had two boys - Titan and Moon Pi. Maisie gave birth to two beautiful babies - Asia and Hercules. We are retaining both of them. Lucy also blessed us with a girl and a boy - Aurora and Argus. The next four girls to kid are Donna, Dixie, Carmela and Mimi. They are due starting the 5th of May!
Any guesses on how many babies our Carmela is carrying? She is seriously as big as a house! She was big last year - but not this BIG! Last year she had twin boys.
The weather so far this year has been very frustrating. Extreme changes in temperature followed by snow, then rain, then more snow is making life very difficult. The end of April saw us dealing with the worst flood we have ever faced here! We had to evacuate the goats to different farms just to keep them all safe and dry. It made life even more stressful as so many roads in the area were closed due to wash outs. It was a challenge just to get to around everywhere. We are happy to report though that we all made it through and our house was not damaged in the flood. We were very fortunate considering how many others in the area lost everything. Now that the water has gone back down we are dealing with repairs to our fences and the cleanup of everything that washed in our yard. it could have been so much worse!
I guess the best news of all is that I have finally finished school! Through everything that's gone on in the last month I am not exactly sure how I managed, but I did! No more exams, papers or terrible reading assignments for this girl! At least for awhile anyways! I would still like to go on to grad school at some point but for the next year at least I will be taking the time to refocus and get centered again. There is plenty of time to go back to school again later! For now it is just so hard to believe that after 4 years I have finally earned my degree! I definitely need to celebrate but will do so when things aren't so busy around here!
I have a hard time believing how much time has passed since I was last able to post on here. September was SOO long ago and a great deal has been happening here since that time. I will do my best to give an accurate and full update here but this may take some time and afew more posts as well to get it all in. School has been particularly brutal on me this term and hasn't given me an ounce of free space to really focus on the farm all that much and that includes keeping this blog and website updated. Doing an honours year is a great thing but extremely tough as well but I know all the hard work will pay off. The good news is that I will be officially graduating in June and will have plenty of time at that point to keep this dream going! This post is bound to be a long one as I fill in all the holes from the last few months.
Let's start with the amazing picture posted above! This painting entitled "Canadian Goatic" was lovingly painted by Geordon's neices Natalie and Jessica and given to us as a Christmas gift. We just had to show it off here! The girls did a wonderful job at not only capturing us but the personality of several of our goats as well! We are thrilled and honoured to have received such an amazing and thoughtful gift. Thanks girls! xoxoxox
One of the biggest and most absent bits of news I guess on here would be our attendance at the 2012 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair as exhibitors this year. We did attend and compete at the Royal this past November and it was a memorable experience for sure and one that we look forward to repeating year after year. Carmela, Maisie, Cassi and myself spent four days at the Royal where we met some amazing people and learned so much about showing.
** I appologize for not having better photos. Geordon was being the *ahem* photographer on show day and clearly was distracted and not thinking about getting good photos.**
Carmela placed 1st in her class, Maisie and Cassi both placed 2nd in theirs. We
did not win any great awards or championships there this year but we were
completely thrilled and delighted to be there and to have any ribbons from The
Royal is an accomplishment all on its own to be proud of! Next year we will go
again and hope to do even better! We look forward to the 2013 show season!
Breeding season is wrapping up here. All of our girls are bred to their chosen mate with the exception of Cassiopeia who must wait another month or so before I breed her. Spring kiddings will begin with CC who is due first at the very end of March. Bonnie, Maisie, and Lucy will follow in April with Dixie, Carmela, Mimi and Donna all due in early May. It is sure to be a very exciting time here with kidding season! Jose was chosen to breed 5 of our does this time around and we can`t wait to see what his genetics will add to our herd. Gigalo and Shaemus have both also been used for breeding this year. We hope for many happy, healthy doelings!!
We had a beautiful autumn here this year with some amazingly warm sunny days which allowed for us to enjoy many wonderful hikes with the goats. With the snow comes the end to the majority of our hiking days as the snow just gets too deep for the goats to comfortably walk in. Here are some wonderful photos of our Thanksgiving Day hike though :o)
The holidays are always a fun time here at the Meadows. We try our hardest to ensure that every Christmas is spent with an abundance of relaxation and peace, free from all the drama and stress that the holidays bring to so many. This year we spent the holidays with my dear Mama Melina and her boyfriend Red having lots of laughs, good food and making lasting memories. Our son Daniel surprised us all by proposing to his girlfriend Erica! We are excited for them as they move forward making their own life together. Here are some pictures taken over the 2012 holiday season here.
We were blessed with a happy donation of left over Christmas trees generously donated to us by our friends at Dean's Home Hardware located in Port Sydney, ON. Our goats really loved the different variety of trees they received! We also received one from the Cook family from Huntsville, ON. We are always on the look out for more so if you are in the Huntsville area and have a real tree free from tinsel and sprays then we would love to hear from you!
Well I think that sums up the important bits of what has been happening around here for the last few months. I will write another post very soon about an exciting new project I have started but will leave it for it's own post. Hint - think goat milk ice cream!! YUM! Stay tuned for more info!
From all of us at Sky River Meadows, we want to wish all the best to everyone in 2013. May blessings and happiness be in all your days to come!
Yesterday was the CGS East Nationals in Ancaster, ON. They were held at the Ancaster Fall fair and approximately 350 goats of various breeds were entered in the competition. The level of quality in animals exhibited by breeders was amazing! This was our first opportunity to compete against other nigerian dwarf goats at a show and it was a great chance for us to see how our girls compare to those of other breeders. Our Maisie, Tripping Billies Loo placed first in her class and won Jr. Reserve Champion! Cassi still struggles in the ring and according to the judge is "thick through her bones", meaning she is fat! Cassi placed 4th in her class though :) Carmela who was showing for the first time in the senior classes now that she is in milk placed 1st in her class but she was alone in it. All in all, it was still a great day. We learned a great deal about what we need to do for our girls to really shine. Now we have a few months to get them into shape for the Royal Winter Fair in November! We are still so proud of our little Maisie!!
Yesterday we spent the day at the local Bracebridge Fall Fair with some of our goats for part of the goat display. As it was for display only and there was no competition, we were able to just sit back and relax and enjoy ourselves watching people enjoying our goats. The weather was nice and sunny which brought out a lot of people to the fairgrounds. As we were limited to bringing 6 goats, we decided on bringing Dixie, Mimi, Lucy, Carmela, Maisie and Cassi. These girls are getting quite used to being at fairs and showing this year so it seemed they knew right away they were in for another long day of boredom. Lucy insisted on spending most of the day jumping from pen to pen, standing on the thin ledge between pens or just standing up and looking out at the world. People did seem to enjoy her though and the occasional gasps from people as she leaped from one pen to the next were priceless for us! The nigerian girls were continually mistaken for baby goats but everyone was dazzled by thier beautiful bright blue eyes! Next year we will have more nigerians that we will be able to bring which will hopefully show the breed off more. It was great being able to connect with people in our own area for a change though.
This post has been one of the most difficult for me to write. With my heart in my throat though, life must go on. Carmela finally gave birth Monday afternoon! It was a very long day of waiting for both her and I as she began contractions around 5:30 am and didn't give birth until 5:30 pm. She gave birth to two beautiful little boys. Heartbreak struck though when her first born, who we named Leo, showed obvious signs of being under developed. He was unable to stand and had no suck reflex. Sadly after 6 hours of struggling to keep him alive, he passed away. Carmela's second born son, who we have named Draco, is strong and healthy and doing fantastic! With the death of Leo, it has been very difficult to celebrate the safe arrival of Draco, but we are finally managing. Although sometimes it doesn't make much sense as to why a beautiful creature is born into this world, only to be unfairly taken away hours later, we do have to try to learn the lessons laid out for us. For me, I think Leo was sent to help teach me about letting go. I am not used to losing the battle for an animals life! I save animals. It is what I do! Being completely helpless is not something that I a used to and I am far to stubborn to ever give up. With Leo, there was no choice for me. He wasn't going to make it and that's all there was to it. Bittersweet indeed. I don't think my heart ever forgets. I still cry thinking about Toby and we lost him several years ago! Leo was a beautiful soul who wasn't given a fair shot at life. He will never be forgotten by me though.
On a much needed and happier note. Carmela is doing wonderfully as a new mother! She is very protective and attentive to her surviving son. Draco is vibrant and active and just the most devilishly handsome little man! He looks so much like his Mom and was fortunate enough to have inherited her beautiful ice blue eyes and white and gold colouring!
Draco seems to be endlessly hungry and even when he isn't eating he is walking around with his tongue out, sucking away as if he is forever in search if another teat to try out! He is too precious for words and will definately make someone a wonderful breeding herd sire.
Yesterday, Geordon and I went to the Schomberg Spring Fair to take part in our very first goat show! We took Carmela and Maisie to compete and had a great day! We learned a great deal and met some wonderful people there who are also goat fanatics! Both of our girls did great as they didn't know what to expect anymore than I did! Carmela placed 2nd in her class and placed 3rd overall in her division. Maisie placed 3rd in her class. Both girls were beautiful and turned a lot of heads! Several people asked to have their pictures taken with the girls and they really seemed to enjoy all the attention. We now know better what to expect next weekend when we attend our first big show in Brooklin, ON. We plan to bring Cassi out for that one as well and as I can't show two goats at once, Geordon will have to show one as well! I am looking forward to seeing how the girls stack up against other Nigerians as there should be some there!
At the end of the day, the girls were exhausted from all the attention and celebrity! They both enjoyed a very comfortable nap together.
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
- Anatole France
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