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.
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, 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.
The May long weekend is here already and Geordon and I are busy getting so much stuff done around here! Goat show season starts for us next weekend with the Schomberg Spring Fair. We are planning on showing Carmela and Maisie there next weekend - if we don't chicken out that is! Today, the girls got their hair cuts so they will be ready to dazzle the judges! What a difference in Carmela! She really is a beauty and I forsee her doing really well there next weekend. Maisie it seems, under all that hair, is a tiny wee little doeling! She actually looks more like a lamb running around right now. Neither one seemed to mind getting clipped too much. I think they both feel a lot better now that they can stay cooler!
In other news, we go to see Debbie and Shane at Bashert Farms tomorrow to pick up our new buckling that was imported from New Mexico! We are really excited to be bringing him home finally! It will also be wonderful to finally meet Debbie and Shane after all these months of dealing goats and never having met in person yet! Pictures of our Prairie Wood's Noway José will come soon!
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