Friday, March 10, 2017

Time is not Measured by Clocks, but by Moments

Sometimes, the greatest things happen when you least expect them.  Luna, my Nubian dairy goat, was due to have her kids, but I didn't think she was going to have them anytime this week.  She bagged up and she was huge, but she still was extremely energetic.  Last year, Luna still had about a month until she was due, but she kidded and her twin bucks that were too young and, sadly, they didn't make it.  So, I was very nervous for this year because I wasn't sure if all was going to go well with her.  I also was very excited to finally have babies from her.

On Tuesday morning, however, Ashley went out to feed her sheep and I was in the kitchen also about to go outside when Ashley came running to the door telling me that I needed to come to the barn.  My mom and I quickly threw our shoes on and ran to the barn.  We heard a cry from a baby goat and we knew Luna had kidded.  Once we were in the barn, we were greeted by Luna and her three kids.  She had triplets!  She had them all on her own without any problems too!  I was very excited by this sight, but now I had to get to work with feeding Luna, who is now half her size, clean her stall, make sure the kids eat, and possibly milk her and bottle feed the kids.  In the morning, she was wonderful with all three of them.  As the day went on, she stopped taking care of the one doe kid, then the buck kid.  This meant that I had to milk her out and bottle feed the two she wouldn't let nurse.  They took the bottle really well and are now drinking a bottle four times a day almost.  They are really healthy and strong now.  Since Luna is named after the moon, I decided to go with a space theme for the kids.  The little buck is Galaxy, the black and white doe is Moonbeam, and the blonde doe is Star.  They are all precious and enjoy playing outside.  I really look forward to seeing them grow.  Now it's time to wait for the Angora goats!


Star has quite the voice!

Moonbeam's first picture

Moonbeam loves being outside

Galaxy!


Galaxy is a fan of the camera


Star needed a snack!


Strike a pose, Galaxy!

Star was very tired after playing

Peek-a-Boo was filing a noise complaint... she hardly had the chance to sleep! Silly goats

Monday, January 30, 2017

An Exciting Start to 2017


So far, 2017 has been filled with many excitements.  It started out with the 101st Pa Sate Farm Show!  For my family, Farm Show is a huge deal considering that we are there every day from early morning to late at night for the whole week.   Each day consists of something new.  My family’s business, Blue Mountain Farms, actually has a booth there selling some of our wonderful products from our farm.  So, our week starts on Thursday when we set up our booth.

On Friday, that rabbit show takes place.  At the rabbit show, there were over 1,000 animals and the top 400 stayed for the whole week.  I showed six rabbits and one meat pen.  What makes up a meat pen is a group of three rabbits all ten weeks old and they have to weigh 3 ½ to 5 ½ pounds.  Normally, you would see a lot of the average breeds used for meat such as the New Zealand, Californian, and Florida White, but, knowing me, I always have to be different.  This year, I showed a Giant Angora meat pen.  My goal was to be able to show them because someone told me I couldn’t so I had to prove them wrong.  To top the fact that they made it there, they didn’t get last!  On Friday night, I had the chance to attend the Pa Preferred Banquet as the Pennsylvania State Rabbit Duchess along with other members of the Pennsylvania Rabbit Royalty Court.  We even had the opportunity to take our picture with 2016 State Fair Queen, Governor Wolf, and Secretary of Agriculture Russel Redding. 

During the weekend, I was in the rabbit room a lot helping with the petting tables and answering lots of questions, but I started the day off with the opening ceremonies.  I was asked to provide a rabbit to represent the rabbit industry and a chicken to represent poultry!  On Saturday, I participated in rabbit showmanship and I won third in my class with a perfect score of 100%!  I also discovered that my two jar display of tomato salsa and berry salsa and a pair of boots that I made from the fiber from my Angora rabbits won Best in Show!  On Saturday night, I along with a few friends from 4-H participated in the Fashions with a Flair to show outfits that we constructed ourselves.  My outfit was a pair of shorts that I actually wove the fabric with fiber from my animals and a shirt that I knit and crocheted also with fiber from my animals.  I won first place in my class!  I had a lot of fun representing PaSRBA while helping with the celebrity rabbit hopping contest as well as the meat pen auction. 

The next day, Monday, started off with working in an information booth which are worked by 4-Hers from our county throughout the week.  We provide the answers for questions about the Farm Show or 4-H.  Then I worked with the Bell family to speak in the rabbit room about all uses of rabbits and hand out samples of delicious rabbit meat.  I even had the chance to walk around the Farm Show with friends and watch the square dancing.  Hopefully, one of these years, I will be able to participate in the square dancing! 

On Tuesday morning I competed in one of my favorite events at Farm Show.  This event is the wonderful potato judging contest!  I really like being a part of this contest because it is very different and you learn a lot about potatoes and choosing good potatoes.  You also learn about the different defects a potato can have.  My team actually placed 8th! 

Wednesday is always a busy day at the Farm Show for my family.  This is Fleece to Shawl day!  If you aren’t familiar with the Fleece to Shawl event, it is a competition for teams of five youth who take a fleece from a sheep and the carder cards the fiber to then hand it off to the three spinners to spin the fiber into yarn and then hand it off to the weaver to weave the yarn into a shawl.  All of this has to happen in three hours!  As you can imagine, we have to work very fast in order to finish and we also need a lot of practice.  Each team also has a theme that the shawl represents.  This year, my team’s theme was New Blossoms, so we had the colors of wild flowers and we all wore dresses and flower crowns.  We hand-dyed our shawl with purples, coral, blues, light green, pale yellow, and delicate pinks.  My mom actually is the 4-H leader of the Dauphin County Fiber Club and we had three teams compete this year!  The two other team’s themes were Coffee and 101 Dalmatians.  The 101 Dalmatian team won third place, the Coffee team won the fleece award and Reserve Champions, and my team won Champion and I actually won the weaver’s award!  Dauphin County was awarded the top three teams! 

Thursday morning brought some excitement for Blue Mountain Farms because we were awarded Best Commercial Booth with Sales at the Farm Show!  This was an honor to receive because of all of the work we put into our products and our products are from our own animals!  That night, my family and the Dauphin County Fiber Club Competed in the Angorapalooza.  This event is new to the Farm Show and it is a timed competition where you have five members on a team and the harvester harvests the fiber off of an Angora rabbit and hands it off to the three spinners who spin the fiber into yarn for the weaver to weave a scarf.  This isn’t hurting the rabbits because we are taking off their old coat that is being pushed out by their new coat.  We had four teams and our themes were the four top agricultural products in Pennsylvania.  So, we had Team Mushroom, Team Produce, Team Poultry, and Team Dairy.  We all had a wonderful time and we all finished with time to spare.  Ashley, my sister, was on Team Produce and she served as the weaver and I served as the weaver on Team Dairy and we were neck and neck on time.  We almost finished at the same time!  Team Poultry won fourth, Team Mushroom took third, Team Dairy won Reserve Champions, and Team Produce won Champion!  We all did very well!

The last day was bittersweet.  I was sad to see that Farm Show was coming to an end, however, at the end of the day, my family celebrates with a nice dinner and we all get together to thank everyone for everything they helped with throughout the week! 


Molli, the current PaSRBA Princess, and I were interviewed about rabbits at the rabbit show!


Part of the PaSRBA Royalty Court before the Pa Preferred Banquet


We met the 2016 Pa Fair Queen!  Did you know, she use to raise rabbits?



My wonderful team, The Twisted Sisters, before the Fleece to Shawl




The Fiber Friendsy team was very excited to start!  Their tails were wagging!



The Fibering Five getting ready!


My team's finished product!


A picture of the shawl line up from all of the youth teams.  Everyone did an amazing job!



We were very excited!


Don't we look like a fun group?  Lots of smiles!


Me weaving at the Angorapalooza


Go Ashley! 


Alyssa was very focused with her weaving!  She was the weaver for Team Mushroom


Addison was a the weaver for Team Poultry

Ayanna getting ready to spin right off of the rabbit!
Matt being a pretty "Fungi" for Team Mushroom!

Our Champion Team! Congratulations Team Produce!


Team Dairy, our Reserve Champions


Team Mushroom took third


Team Poultry won fourth with this lovely shawl!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sometimes You Just Shouldn’t Quit


Hello everyone, with all the negative currently surrounding us all in the news, I thought you might enjoy a heartfelt story that surely should brighten your day.  Did you ever have one of those times that you just thought, hmmm, maybe, just maybe, I ought to give this a chance?  Well, recently that happened for me.  The result was a wonderful surprise, I affectionately call Lil’ Nugget.  You see, I raise Angoras, all four breeds.  As many of you may or may not know, Giant Angoras aren’t always the best mothers; however, I had one last year that I bred, she kindled, and believe it or not, all kits were in the nest box!  Whew, I couldn’t believe it.  I should have continued to hold my breath because on day 5, the doe kicked one of the kits out of the box.  I found the little kit the next morning, cold, dehydrated, and well, not looking so good. 

I’m a sucker for the runt.  Always have been!  So, I decided to give it a chance; of course, the odds were slim to none.  I took the little kit inside, warmed it up, and, since I raise dairy goats, warmed up some milk.  Once it pinked up a bit, I offered it a bit of the milk.  Ever so carefully, I managed to squeeze several drops into the dehydrated kit.  A few hours later, I repeated this process.  In fact, I repeated this four times a day for weeks.  After a few weeks, the kit actually helped me hold a small bottle I had made for it!  By week four, the kit actually passed the size of its siblings and I was able to tell that it was a doe I named Lil’ Nugget! 

Lil’ Nugget and I have been on several adventures.  She joined me at our local extension office for a summer camp, several shows including my county 4-H fair, and yes, even ARBA Nationals this year in San Diego.  I proudly brought Lil’ Nugget with me to show her.  I was also quite proud of the fact that at 9 months old, she weighed in at a whopping 10 pounds 11 ounces!  Even after her long trip to San Diego, she remained in a beautiful show coat and went on to win a few Best in Shows and Reserve in Shows in my area.  I recently clipped her down and am looking forward to breeding her.  I’m thinking she might be a great mom!  If not, I’ll be there to help her, bottle and all.  So, the moral to my story, is just sometimes, we should give a chance to the little guy, they might just surprise you.
Lil Nugget Drinking from her bottle

Winning 2nd Reserve in Show at Apple Country

She's just beautiful!

Best in Show at Tri-County

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Choice


Every day, I have a choice.  Do I wake up, feed my animals, work, do what is best for me because no one else will do it if I don’t, or do I stay in bed and wait for things to be handed to me?  This whole race to become the next President, senator, or representative has turned into a nightmare.  A very one-sided, I’m right, you’re wrong situation that some people don’t even feel comfortable voicing their own opinion.  Many people have such a strong opinion and feel so passionately about it that it is dividing friendships, families, and more. 

Trump’s slogan during his entire race was, “Make America Great Again!”  Hillary’s slogan was, “Stronger Together.”  This isn’t something that Trump and Hillary would be able to succeed in doing alone, nor is either idea any less important because the other one lost!  We all have a responsibility to “Make America Great Again!” and we are definitely “Stronger Together!” 

This is a task that every American has to contribute towards.  We have to be kind to each other and all work to achieve a balance on what is best for this wonderful country and do it together.  Instead of fighting with others over their differences, we need to respect them, embrace them, or at the very least try to understand them.  Yes, we will run into hurdles and we won’t always succeed in what we may be attempting to accomplish, but we won’t always fail either.  Take Thomas Edison for example.  With very limited resources, he used multiple products to create the first successful light bulb which was actually economically viable.  While others had also created them before him, his perseverance helped him build a better product we take for granted today.

  If you’re looking for someone who is a bit more modern day, look to James Dyson for an example.  He worked and worked for five years to build a vacuum that would actually clean a floor.  He failed a lot, 5,127 times to be exact, but when he finally succeeded, he didn’t stop and retire, even though he could have, he is still working to improve his original model.  Will a vacuum change the world?  No, but it did make things a lot easier for us.

 I am always told the 4-H motto which is, “Make the Best Better,” and I always strive to do just that.  You know, America was founded because Christopher Columbus failed to sail his proper route.  Failing isn’t always a bad thing and everything happens for a reason.  So now, we can all make our plans to flee the country or complain about Trump being the new President, but I am going to continue to be kind and work hard because my opportunities aren’t just handed to me and I have to work for them.  I will continue to “Make the Best Better”. Will I be able to change the world, by myself?  No, but I will work hard to make my dreams come true because, no matter what, the government can’t change that. 

Journey Supporting the United States of American!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Opportunities

Every day its in the news, all this talk from our two Presidential elects who are planning to make America great again.  I began to think that where I just was fortunate enough to be, America is great!  So, where was I?  What was I participating in?  Anyone who knows me, knows that it either had something to do with animals, rabbits, goats, or sheep, or I had to be at a 4-H event, or a combination of both.  Well, if you guessed both, you guessed right.

This past week, I enjoyed every minute of participating in the 2016 Pa 4-H State Achievement Days.  I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that 4-H has to offer. This is an event, held at Penn State Campus, where 4-Hers can go and compete in one competition such as rabbit bowl, livestock skillathon, horse judging, chicken BBQ, questing, and so much more. This year, I participated in the Rabbit and Cavy bowl.  We are judged both as an individual as we make our way through a skill-a-thon that contained a section of Breed I.D., nest box scenarios, test your knowledge, and more.  Next, we gathered with our team and we participated in a quiz bowl.  You really have to be quick to answer because the competition is tough.  I placed first in the junior individual division and my team placed second overall in the quiz bowl.  We had a great time!

You know, though, 4-H State Achievement Days isn't just about the competition.  We attend opening ceremonies where there is always a very inspirational speaker who works to instill leadership skills in each of us.  This year's speaker shared his story all the while teaching us about setting goals and being persistent to achieve them.  I began to think that if more youth had opportunities like I and my fellow 4-H'ers had, perhaps we wouldn't be worried about our youth or our country. 

I've been blessed to have many opportunities as a result of 4-H and many other wonderful organizations that I've been a part of.  I am so very thankful to all the people who have helped me achieve many of my accomplishments such as recently earning my registrar's license at age 14 through the American Rabbit Breeders Association!  I could not have done that without the help from Mrs. Ruth-Ann Bell, Matt Bishop, Ashley, my sister, and my mom.  They were always there for me when I needed help to study or go to a show to work with another judge.  My accomplishments at 4-H State Achievement Days were made possible with the help of Mrs. Lori Jo Whitehaus, my 4-H rabbit leader. She put together my team and held study sessions at her house, which I've attended for several years now. 

The volunteers in the organizations I've been blessed to be a part of give endless support to the youth.  Many of them have their own children who grow up and go on to help as well.  I've also appreciated the additional support I've received from the judges and registrars who worked with me as I strived to complete my license.  Mr. Eric Stewart has always been available to answer all of my questions, Mr. Rob Frizzell, Mrs. Bonnie Burdick, and Mr. G. Joseph Colucci who all allowed me to work with them in judging, and Ms. Danielle Barbacow who worked with me in the registrar process.  There are many other individuals who have worked with me too.  I don't mean to slight them, but I do want to call attention to the fact that so many people help provide opportunities for the youth to learn and grow.

I've seen several posts on Facebook lately speaking about how kids aren't learning basic life skills because those classes have been eliminated in the schools.  Well, 4-H, PaSRBA, The American Rabbit Breeders Association, and many other youth organizations are out there doing just that, teaching kids the value of a strong work ethic and so much more.  I'm so thankful to be a part of it all.  Maybe that's how we start to make America great again.

My Rabbit Bowl Team!


My club leader, Mrs Lori Jo Whitehaus, my 4-H Rabbit Club Leader, and Mrs. Christy Bartley, Assistant Director of Programs at Penn State
 

Fellow Dauphin County 4-H'ers - Archery Recurve Junior winner - Harmony Biehl, (left), Me - center, Addison Neff - Turkey BBQ and Presentation winner



Monday, May 9, 2016

A Great Day!

Hello everyone! I am on the home stretch! I can see the light! I have nine days of school left before that summer vacation begins! I can't believe that I am almost finished with my freshman year of high school. Man does time fly. I feel like I just started to homeschool yesterday and here I am with the end of freshman year just around the corner! Along with almost being finished with school, I have also been working a lot with Iris. She is improving and learning a lot. I really am having a blast with her and I can't wait to see what the future will look like with her and I. 

I've been working a lot with my goats as well. I finally have Angora goat does and one dairy goat doe too! There must be something in our water because we don't usually see a lot of doe kids born here!  Every kidding season, there will be a ratio of 1 doe to 3 bucks born if not more bucks! I was just glad to finally see some does especially out of Cocoa, who I've only ever had one buck from. This year, Cocoa had triplets! One doe, Mo Mo, and two bucks, of course, but at least there is a doe in there. I also have little Shadowcat who had twin does. Shadowcat is an Angora goat that always had does. This year, she had two jet black kids, Sabrina and Nixi. Sabrina has a little white spot on her head but Nixi is all black. There is also Elle who kidded for her first time this year. She did a great job and, she even had a doe! Her little doe kid's name is Ondina. Then there are the bucks, Cam, Cocoa's two little boys who still need names, and Little Squirt who will be going to a new home with his mom soon. Queen bee, my Leicester Longwool sheep, had her first lamb this year. If you haven't already guessed, it's a ram. I haven't named him yet, but he is a noisy little guy. I think he takes after his mom on that part.

I am really looking forward to what will come of this years kids and lamb. I can't wait to show them at the 4-H fair this August!


Little Ondina!

A close up of Sabrina

Boo enjoying the day!

Sabrina!

Cam in all of his handsomeness! 

Elle!

Miss Photogenic!

Elle and Ondina!

Photobombing!
Ondina!

Cocoa's little boy again!

Dale even jumped in on the action!