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.
Last year we attended the Rockton World's Fair for the first time on Thanksgiving weekend to check out the alpaca show there. It turns out Rockton also has a great goat show! This year we decided to take our girls all the way to Rockton to compete and they did not disappoint us! Donna came home with AOP Grand Champion and AOP Best Udder while Maisie came home with AOP Reserve Champion. All of our girls did really well and showed off their breed beautifully. We were very excited for our Maisie though as it was her first time back in the show ring since Brooklin due to a tumour she developed on her shoulder. She underwent surgery to have it removed and fortunately the tumour was benign. Maisie was finally healed and ready to complete again - even though you can see the scar on her shoulder still.
Rockton holds a wonderful fair if you are ever looking for something fun to do with the whole family on the Thanksgiving weekend. It is well worth the drive!
Our next and final fair of the season is the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto which incidentally this year is also the host for the East National Dairy Goat show. We will be there on site from November 1-3 and will be competing in the ring on November 2nd.
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!
We are so excited to finally announce a secret we have been keeping for awhile here! Today it finally became official that we are purchasing ASH Donna and will be bringing her home on September 29th! Donna was 2011 East National Grand Champion Nigerian doe and we are so excited to be able to add her to our herd. A HUGE thank you to Diane for agreeing to sell Donna to and for the use of your photo! I can't wait to see how far this beautiful doe can go next year in shows and look forward to seeing what she will bring to our breeding program.
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
- Anatole France