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.
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!!
Alright, some of you may be wondering why we are now here and not at Milky Way Meadows, so let me start there. The Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (CLRC) informed me that there was already a registered goat breeder in Canada - in BC that was registered under the name Milky Way and as such we wouldn't be able to register our herd with our intended theme. We made the decision to change our name as we were just getting started anyways - no harm done. We came up with the name Sky River Meadows through another "help name the..." type contest on facebook. I am unsure who came up with the idea but to whomever it was - thank you! We actually like this name a great deal more than Milky Way! So that is why we are now here.
So, now to get everyone up to speed! So our new babies out of Bonnie - Cassi and Orion are doing wonderfully! They are now six weeks old and Orion has been sold and will be going to his new home soon. I am really happy about how friendly and sociable he has become. Little Cassi is a bit tough to catch but when you do she is so snuggly! I think she will continue to settle down as she becomes ready to be weaned. The rest of our herd is doing great. Carmela is very pregnant and will be due in July. Dixie never did catch with her breeding so we will try her again this fall for spring babies next year. Lucy and Mimi have both grown into lovely little doelings and are thriving. Bonnie has been a great Mom and is even calming down quite a bit to the point where I can touch her on occasion when she isn't tied! All of our boys - Billie included are also doing really well. We have started shearing and the goats that have been done so far are looking much cleaner and happier without all that winter hair.
With baby goats here we have had a fairly steady stream of people coming by to see them. We love showing them off and it is good for the babies to be well socialized.
On the family front everyone is doing well. I am still sick though and have been undergoing additional procedures since my surgery to try to make me well. Nothing has really worked so far but I remain optimistic! Daniel has started dating a new girl named Erica, and we all agree that we adore her! She is great for him and we love her attitude. They also are just adorable together and she fits in nicely with everyone in the family. Welcome Erica!
We have purchased a new buckling! He will be a very important part of our herd here as he was imported from New Mexico and is a moon spotted buck! Moon spotting is highly sought after and very hard to come by in Canada. He is currently in quarantine but we hope to bring him home this weekend! We are naming him Prairie Wood's Noway José, and will call him José for short. We are very excited to have him join us!
We have decided to sell our larger animals to make more room and free up some of our time as we are so busy it is getting hard to ensure everyone is getting the attention they deserve. Brady went to his new home in McKeller, ON a few weeks ago and is doing really well there. Lynn, my beloved mare has gone to a farm in Hearst, ON to become a beginner voltige horse! I miss her terribly but know she will be wonderful there and she has gone to an excellent home. We are still hoping to find a new home for Annabelle. We are content to keep our donkeys of course but if we can find them a good home then we will let them go.
With the nice weather we are constantly outside with the herd now, letting them graze freely in the yard again. It is so relaxing just enjoying their company and watching them interact with each other, our dogs and guests.
Goat show season starts up soon for us! The first CGS sanctioned show is in Schomberg, ON on May 27th and we hope to attend and perhaps show if we can get all the paperwork in order before hand! We will hopefully be enjoying some great successes in showing this year culminating in the big show at the Royal Winter Fair in November!
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
- Anatole France