I really did try to get to this update before the calendar changed to 2011. It was another late night blog beginning, and about two paragraphs in, my computer told me that someone had removed my wireless device, so I was no longer connected to the internet. This was weird because my hands were on the keyboard the whole time, nowhere near the wireless device, and as far as I could tell everyone else in the house was asleep. Including, apparently, Blogger, because none of my work was saved. Usually, it takes many tries to convince my computer to find the wireless device after it has been allegedly "removed" (even though it looks to me like it is still in the exact same place), so I gave up and went to bed.
This morning there is a very heavy frost on the ground and the heater has been working furiously to keep the house a balmy 64 degrees, so instead of rushing out to start on the yard work required of dry winter days, I'm finally going to finish the summary of the show season.
We return to July, which had the first shows after our Linear Appraisal session. It was sort of nice to have a bit of a break after all of that clipping and preparation, as there were quite a few other things going on that needed my attention as well. Usually, the first weekend in July finds me at the Watsonville show, but it had moved to the same weekend as the Placerville show, which is half the driving distance but twice the show rings. I was very torn about which show to go to because both have been very supportive of Nigerian Dwarf goats, and had hoped earlier in the year that I might be able to send Andy to one and myself to the other. However, Andy had injured his back at work in early June and couldn't drive to the grocery store, much less a goat show, so I was forced to choose. My decision was helped when friends Tamara and Kalee let me know that they were coming down from Oregon to attend the Placerville show.
Saturday morning dawned bright and early, I got the goats and all of the necessary equipment loaded in the truck and was off to the show which was dual sanctioned for ADGA and AGS. I took five senior does and three juniors, and my junior doe pen turned out to be the most work since Siren Song decided that Oh-No had no right to be in the same pen, and made her thoughts on the matter crystal clear. At least Oh-No got some quality one on one people time in our efforts to save her from being mashed by Siren. After a long day of showing the senior does, milking them, then showing the squirmy junior does, I still had to head back to Vacaville to milk all of the goats I had left at home, then get up early to milk them again, then the drive back to Placerville where I arrived just in time to take my does into the first ring of the day. The whole morning felt very rushed, especially when the second ring started judging it's first class while we were still doing Champion Challenge in the first ring! The whole weekend was exhausting, but worth it!
Alum Root went GCH to finish her ADGA permanent championship, and then once more to finish her AGS permanent championship. Bayberry finally made her 2010 show debut and went Reserve Grand Champion in three of the four rings. The junior does did well enough with Magpie and Oh-No exhibiting very good behavior for their first time in a show ring.
The next week, we headed to the State Fair which had moved from August to July this year. We did not show at the fair, but we did go to dairy week to see our dairy goat friends. We got to see several breeds of dairy cow, including the Brown Swiss with withers higher than my head! I had no idea that they got that tall. The move to July did result in the State Fair having much better attendance numbers than last year, which is encouraging- I'd hate to see the State Fair go by the wayside.
At the urging of Tamara and Kalee, I decided to take a trip one week late, up to Oregon for the Jacksonville Fair- a one day, two ring, Sunday show. I had gone to this show once, four years ago, and a one day show sounded good, especially knowing that the Rousso family would provide a comfy place to stay. As soon as I finished the farmer's market on Saturday, I got the truck packed and headed north with just four milkers and Stella.
Stella has not been on many trips since she tends to get car sick. I have noticed that she seems much more nervous in the car than in our truck- I think when she was abandoned, she was taken out to "the country" in a car, which is why they make her uneasy. She was much more relaxed on this road trip than the last one- she even looked out of the windows and spent most of the trip not curled up in a tiny little ball. And, there was no barfing! Progress! She just might turn into a dog that enjoys riding in the car after all.
I got the milkers all tucked into a stall in the Rousso barn, where they were provided with lots of hay and water, and turned my attention to enjoying a tasty dinner served in the back yard where we could enjoy the weather and watch the dogs play with each other. This is where I discovered a new quirk of Stella's- Border Collies are notorious for their quirks, and so far this seems to be only the second one she has. She is much more concerned with heading off a dog that is going after a stick or a ball than she is with getting the stick or ball herself. When she is alone, she loves fetching sticks or balls, but all Saturday evening, she was just obsessed with heading off Jedi, the English Shepherd. Jessi, the English Shepherd/Lab cross was thrilled because this meant that Jedi was distracted long enough for Jessi to actually have a chance at the stick/ball/pine cone. She has now continued to show this behavior with several other dogs- I guess that instinct to head off animals that are running somewhere is just too strong to turn off, even around non-herding-appropriate animals.
Sunday morning found Kalee and I down at the barn early to get the milkers loaded and down to the fairgrounds in time for the show which started at 8am. I was not very happy with my girls when I discovered that they'd gone on some sort of hunger/thirst strike, practically not touching their filtered water or their hay overnight. Sigh. Once we were at the fairgrounds, I remembered why I hadn't gone back to this show for four years. For one thing, not being able to drop the goats off the night before the show, when the show starts at 8am is a pain for anyone traveling to the show from any amount of distance. For another, the barn footing is all superfine and dusty decomposed granite- the goats get filthy and the dust gets in everything. And, once you are there, there's no leaving until after 5pm. This makes for a very long day, and there were lots of fair attendees who wanted to touch every animal in the barn- a great way to spread disease. We set up our chairs around the pens in such a way that someone would have to stand on us if they wanted to touch the goats The competition in the show ring was pretty strong, and we brought home a Reserve Grand Champion win with Irish Cream. Since I didn't take any juniors, this meant that I was pretty much done at 10am, so ended up talking shop with some of the other goat breeders there and trying to stay cool in the hot summer temperatures until we were allowed to leave.
We didn't have much in the way of shows in August, and before I knew it, September had arrived and it was time to head back up to Placerville for the Fuzzy Goat Show. A two ring dual sanctioned (ADGA and AGS) show held on one day. Irish Cream won GCH in the first ring, which was the final leg she needed for her ADGA permanent champion, and made her the fourth doe I've finished in ADGA this year. In the next ring Bayberry went Reserve Grand Champion- the doe who went Champion was already finished in AGS, so the Reserve should count as a restricted leg. I took a couple of juniors as well, and Magpie came in second in her very large dry yearling class. A stunning daughter out of CRF Castle Rock Jamaica Bay (a Sara x Montego daughter) went Junior Champion in one of the rings- I'm always happy to see the quality continue in that doe line.
We wrapped up the 2010 show season in early October with our second attendance at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, which was very nice. The Harvest Fair seemed a bit smaller overall than the previous year- with the exception of the llama show, which was a Southwest Regional show. There were no premiums this year, which I'm sure had some impact on how many entries there were- it's much harder to justify spending money for two nights hotel room (we had a Friday night check-in) without the chance to recoup any of it. Not that we get premiums at many shows around here, but the budget cuts that many, many fairs have had has an impact on more and more small farmers.
We took five does in milk and Mr. Lincoln, but left the junior does at home this time, since all of those that I had registered with AGS had already gotten plenty of "ring time" earlier in the year. Bayberry took Grand Champion and Best Udder in the first ring, and Blizzard went Grand Champion in the second ring. Irish Cream went Reserve Grand Champion in both rings, and Best Udder in the second ring. Not a bad way to end the show season!