Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Little Nugget

The past few days, I have been caring for one little friend.  This friend has had a tough life so far.  I am hoping that my friend makes it.  This friend is a baby Giant Angora rabbit.  I call her Little Nugget.  The day she was born, I found her on the rabbitry floor.  The mom wasn't too fond of them on day one.  She had a total of 8.  Unfortunately 4 did not make it.  I still had four left so right away a ran into the house to keep them warm and care for them.  Once they were all warm, I carried the mom, Abby, into the house to let her nurse the babies.

After two weeks of walking out to the rabbitry, taking Abby out of her cage, carrying her into the house, and holding her in a way that she is comfortable and the kits could nurse still, I decided that she might like to care for them herself.  After I put them together, she seemed to show much curiosity for them, so I checked on them hourly.  They all had full milk bellies so I thought they should be okay.  Once they were under Abby's care for two days, I checked each one to see how they were doing.  I was mortified to see that the runt was rejected!  I separated Little Nugget from Abby and brought her into the house.  I stole a bag of goat milk that was in the freezer to start defrosting so I could feed Nugget.  Once the milk was defrosted a little, I heated up a bottle for Nugget.  She drank it right away!

Nugget started to grow after that day and now, she is looking great!  She is drinking more and more everyday.  Oh, I almost forgot!  The three siblings of Nugget are all growing, nursing, and looking wonderful!  I hope that Nugget will make it.  Wish her good luck!

Nugget and sibling - one day old

Reintroduced to Abby


So tired after bottle time

Falling asleep

"Oh, hello there."

Nugget loves bottle time!

Secret loves Nugget!

Nugget running around!

Happy Holidays from Nugget!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Great Trip and Great Memories

Hello everyone!  This past week was the American Rabbit Breeders Association national convention, held in Portland, Oregon!  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go.  Since it was so far away, my mom and I flew out instead of driving.  It was very stressful because I have never flown rabbits before and I wasn't sure how it was going to work out.  I am happy to say the, with a lot of paper work and figuring out, my three rabbits, Nate, Brown Sugar, and Trump, all made it onto the plane safe and sound! 

The day that we arrived, we put the rabbits in their pens to get acclimated and then we went to the youth area so I could check into the youth contest the next day.  I participated in breed ID, judging, team breed ID, team judging, and I also had to take a written exam.  For breed ID, you only have to go in once, but since I was on a team, our whole team had to go in together.  If you are on a team, you do not talk to each other, but your scores are all combined.  Your personal score is what you have for participating as an individual. 

After breed ID, I then went to my judging class.  For judging, you judge four classes of either rabbits or cavies and you have 7 minutes per class.  For team, each member of your team has to pick two of four classes and those are the two classes you judge.  For team, I chose a class of New Zealands and a class of English Spots.  I liked those two classes because they were both interesting breeds and I knew a little bit about each breed.  I was happy to be on my team because we all worked well together and had a great time too. 

On Sunday, all of the royalty contestants had to take a written exam.  I usually look forward to the exam since you learn something new every year; however, the exam this year was very challenging.  It was a little confusing at times, but I now have something to study for next year.  It also prepared me a little for my registrars test that I am hoping to retake in January. 

Once you are finished with everything, you wait to see if you receive a call back for an interview.  I am very proud to say that I was called back for an interview!  That in itself was an accomplishment since I was in such a large group of impressive girls.  I was thrilled with how I did in the interview and then it was time to wait.  At this point, you don't know how well you competed until the banquet. 

On Sunday, the same day as the test, all of my rabbits showed.  In American Fuzzy Lops, Brown Sugar, a solid senior doe, placed third in a class of 14!  Nate, a broken senior buck, placed second out of a class of 8!  I was ecstatic to see how well they did.  For English Angoras, my little white senior buck, who I worked very hard to make it to this show, placed second to the best in show winner!  That is a pretty big deal, I think. 

On Tuesday, I didn't have much to do during the day, so my mom and two friends of ours went to see what all Oregon had to offer.  We only had a few hours, but we were not going all that way without putting our piggies in the Pacific.  So we went to the beach!  It was a very pretty beach, but it was a little chilly.  I am excited that I get to cross that off my bucket list!

That night it was time for the youth banquet where all of the awards were presented.  I am happy to be in District 9 because we all sat together and had a wonderful time.  It was also interesting because all of the teams that participated together sat with each other.  Now, in my opinion, that is what it's all about. 

After dinner, it was finally time for the awards.  They started with the Management and Achievement contest.  It was an honor to be the winner of District 9 and a runner up nationally for both contests!  After that, breed ID and judging awards were announced.  For team breed ID and judging, we learned that our team placed as runner up nationally!  We were all very proud of ourselves.  Although I didn't place for the Duchess category, I think that I, and my team, did very well!

Well, the next day was the last day, and I was happy to know that I was going home, but I was sad to say goodbye to the convention center.  I had a wonderful time and I can't wait until next year!

District 9

Abigail and I ready for our interviews

Before my interview

Caleb, Isaac, Abigail, and I waiting for our interviews

Waiting for English Angoras to show

I am judging a class of Dwarf Hotots.  Doesn't it look like I have a hat on?
Waiting for Judging to start

Piggies in the Pacific!

Taking pictures of the beach

Management awards
Team breed ID

District 9

While we were gone, we lost a great friend.  Dexter walked a little too close to the mailman's car and sadly was run over.  He was 14 years old and was such an awesome dog.  He gave us so many great memories and I will always miss him.  I loved this little guy, but he is in a better place now.  He is now able to see and not have to worry whether he'll make it up the next step or not.  I miss him already!  Bye bye Dexter.  You were the best dog.  Enjoy the Rainbow Bridge.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

Hello everyone!  I am counting down the days until we leave for the American Rabbit Breeders Association national convention!  I am so excited for it!  I have been keeping busy with grooming my rabbits, studying, preparing cages and kennels for the flight,  and so much more.  I have also been busy with some other things too.  Such as The Pa State Horse Show and shadowing my veterinarian, Cindy. 

As for the State Horse Show, I qualified to show my miniature horse, Journey, in a trial class and CJ in intermediate English showmanship.  On Thursday, Journey stayed the night at the Farm Show Complex, where the show was held, and on Friday morning was shown in his class.  As soon as we arrived on Thursday night, I gave him a bath and worked him so he would get acclimated.  Once he was all settled in with his blanket on, I went home until the next morning. 

On Friday morning, even before the crack of dawn, my mom and I drove to the Farm Show so we could ready Journey for the show.  Matt Bishop also came down that morning to help me with Journey.  I prepared him by lunging him in an outdoor pen, then we practiced in the schooling class, and finally I dressed in my English showing clothes and fancied Journey for his class!  I thought we were doing well with time, but then realized we were the first to go out of 18 contestants.  The announcer was calling for line-ups and we were still in the stall.  So we had to race to the line-up in order to make it on time.  We made it with only moments to spare and even less than that to catch my breath.  I was beaming when I heard my name and number announced over the loud speaker at the Pennsylvania State 4-H Horse Show!  We have come a long way since his early days of leaving me in the dust when he would escape my grip, which he did often.  Now, here we were performing with the best of the best.  Once we completed our pattern, I was very proud of how we did!  Even though we didn't place, I still think that we did an awesome job!  I did a lot of work with the little nugget and am looking forward to continuing next year with him. 

The next day, Matt brought CJ down for our Sunday morning Showmanship class.  I worked a lot with her that night and then gave her a bath.  At 5:00 Sunday morning, Matt and Ashley went down to the Farm Show and started braiding CJ's mane.  At 5:30, my mom and I headed down with breakfast (which was a lifesaver that day, thanks to mom!).  I helped with CJ and then prepared for the show.  Once CJ and I were ready, we headed down to the arena where we showed.  We were the fifth to show in our class of 25 youth.  I watched the first few give their best while I warmed up.  They called my number, 353, and I lined up to start. As soon as I heard the announcer say, "Thank you," I felt like jumping up and down with joy!  I showed two horses at the state horse show and did well in both of my classes!  I was very proud of CJ, Journey, and myself.  Matt, Ashley, and my mom were all very happy and proud as well!  At that time, they announced everyone back in to the ring to call the placements.  I am very, very proud to announce that we won 10th place!  I was ecstatic!  Thanks to Matt, Ashley, and my mom who helped me a lot and I wouldn't have been able to do it without them! 

For my biology class this year in school, I am shadowing my veterinarian, Cindy.  She has been able to teach me a lot already and I've only shadowed her twice.  I am really looking forward to this. Yesterday was the second time that I shadowed her and I had the wonderful chance to watch her give a dairy cow surgery!  Let's just say that this is only reinforcing the fact that I really hope to become a veterinarian when I grow up and hope to continue shadowing and learning more every time!

Until I come back from A.R.B.A. nationals (there will definitely have a new blog post then!),
Your friend,

Journey and I waiting for trail!

Journey and I starting trail!

After trail
Walking in for awards

Waiting for them to announce the awards

About to start showmanship
Ready for showmanship!

CJ and I with our ribbon!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

ARBA Nationals..... Here We Come!

Well, here we go!  A few weeks ago, I sent in my applications for this year's 2015 American Rabbit Breeders Association convention!  This year, the event will be held in Portland, Oregon.  My mom and I were originally planning on driving there, but then we researched the time and pricing.  We've decided that it would be better to fly!  We can't be away as long as it would take to drive all the way across the country and back again; not to mention the fact the fiber mill wouldn't be getting any spinning finished without mom.  Ashley does a great job, but she can't do everything herself, and that's our livelihood.  Also, I would miss my animals and feel bad for my family members who were here feeding all of them for such a long period of time.  So, we decided to fly.  I am going to try and take three rabbits there.  Hope it will all go well!

I am very excited to go.  I have been grooming and getting ready for this nationals.  I also entered my applications into the royalty contest.  I entered in the management and achievement contests as well.  For royalty, you have to participate in breed ID, judging or showmanship (depending on the age), and a written test.  If you do well, you receive a callback for a face to face interview.  This is going to be my last year running for Duchess so that means that I will be running for Queen next year!  I have been working on some studying, but I also want to go and have a good time too.  I am looking forward to this trip and I will keep everyone posted on how it goes.  If you have any suggestions on a must see while we are in Portland, just let us know.  I will, however, be sticking my piggies in the Pacific since I will be awfully close to it!

Best of Breed Satin Angora in Texas ARBA nationals last year!

Judging a class of Dutch for the royalty contest in Texas last year

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gone Too Soon, but Never Forgotten

It just can't be.  I can't believe I was just with you only a few short weeks ago.  I can't remember a time that you haven't been there!  Rabbits have been such a huge part of my life since I was only 4 years old.  You helped make that a wonderfully, happy, and positive experience.  I will always remember your encouragement, support, and laugh.  Rabbit Shows, LVRBA, PaSRBA, Farm Show, and more won't be the same without you.

You were always so supportive of all the youth programs and always one of the first to congratulate any of us in our accomplishments.  You've never had a bad word to say to someone unless it was to make fun of them, to give them a hard time, or to make them laugh and boy were you good at giving my sister a hard time and I loved it!  But, always, you only did it because you cared.  You genuinely cared about each and every one of us. You helped me push myself to be better at many things such as rabbit showmanship, showing, and so much more.  It's sad to see you go and like I said earlier, so much will never be the same. 

While I am sad you are gone, I find peace in the song "His Eye is on the Sparrow".   

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for Heaven and Home,
When Jesus is my portion,
my constant Friend is He;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches over me.

Art, you will be missed by so many people that you have helped along the way.  You were that person who no matter what, you'd be there.  I'm sure you are singing now.  You truly are gone too soon, but, will never be forgotten.   

In memory of  Art Sweinhart 
07-01-59 to 09-22-15

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Time Flies, but Not Memories


Where have you gone?  It feels like you just came the other day!  Now school is right around the corner, I am going into 9th grade, 4-H fair came and went, and so did my first 4-H State Achievement Days!  Well, I can a least tell how everything went.  Last week, I went to my very first State Achievement Days, 4-H State Achievement Days is an educational three-day program for 4-H members (ages 13-18), sponsored each year by Penn State Extension. This annual event is held to demonstrate achievement of 4-H members and provide recognition of their accomplishments in competitive as well as non-competitive events. I participated in the Livestock Skill-a-thon.  My team and I practiced with Cindy Foulke, our vet, 4-H leader, and a wonderful teacher.  She taught us a lot of what we know, and thanks to her, we went, did a great job, had a lot of fun, and learned a lot.  Our team placed 1st and I placed 2nd overall as an individual!  I was very proud of how we placed.

On the last day of State Days, our Dauphin County 4-H Fair started.  We left Penn State and headed right to the Farm Show Complex for 4-H Fair.  Thanks to my mom, sister, and Papa who worked very hard to get all of my animals to fair that morning.  Also, thank you, Matt Bishop, for bringing his horse CJ to fair and getting her all settled in.  As soon as I arrived, I fed goats and rabbits, checked on all of the waters, checked on Journey, fed him, set up a goat agility course, and prepared my goat for my Large Animal Pet Project.  For my Large Animal Pet Project, I taught my goat, Scooby, using clicker training techniques!  We started in March and now he can go over an agility course that my dad and I built and he listens to my commands.  I was very proud of him because even with all of the noises and distractions, he still went over and through everything that he was asked to!  I am happy to say that we won first place!

The same night of the Large Animal Pet Projects, they held the Dairy show, which meant that I showed my dairy goats. First was showmanship.  I used my La Mancha doe, Cocoa, for my class and we did very well.  We one first in our class!  After showmanship, we held the dairy goat breed show.  The first breed up was La Mancha.  That meant that Cocoa was my first goat to show for the day.  She did very well and the judge said a lot of nice things about her.  Next, I showed my Nubians, Peek-A-Boo, Daphne, and Luna.  Peek-A-Boo did great considering that she went lame for seven weeks just a few months ago and she is an older doe.  She did, however, move on to the picking of the Champion Nubian.  Daphne and Luna also moved on to that class.  Luna was Reserve Champion Nubian and Peek-A-Boo won Champion!  He did say that Daphne has a lot of potential but not the maturity as the others.  After showing Peek there, I did decide to let her retire and enjoy life.  So she is now dried up and I will not use her for breeding this fall.  She will just be enjoying life and watching over all the other goats as she has always been quite maternal.

Whew - that was just day one!  The second day included the horse show and the rabbit show.  I began the day with feeding all my animals housed at the fair, cleaned pens, groomed rabbits, and then prepared myself and the horses for showmanship.  I was fortunate to use C.J. for showmanship and we actually placed third which qualified us for the district horse show.  As soon as I was finished in the showmanship ring, I quickly ran over to the rabbit show where I was able to show all my rabbits.  They all did well and I went on to win Best in Show with my English Angora from my friend Donna.  He is gorgeous.  After the show, we had to complete showmanship which I did using my American Fuzzy Lop named Julius Pepper.  We did very well and I won showmanship with a perfect score!

After the rabbit show, I had to race back to the horse show.  I was up for the Beginner Trail Class with C.J.  I was a bit nervous because there was a rather steep bridge in the course which I had never experienced before.  Well, C.J. did beautifully and we placed 1st in the class, also qualifying for districts.  I then competed in the miniature horse classes using my little guy, Journey.  We first did the in hand trail class where we placed first!  Next up was miniature horse driving.  Ashley, my sister, was my assistant which I need because I was still in the junior category.  The footing wasn't the greatest, but Journey pushed through it and we will be going to districts for those two events as well. 

The third and final day was equally exciting for me.  It was the large animal livestock show.  First up for me was sheep showmanship.  Usually, even though I try, I don't do very well as I am showing a wool breed of sheep in the same class as a market sheep.  The wool breeds aren't shorn for the event, but the market lambs are.  The judges seem to prefer the clean look of a shorn lamb over my wool sheep.  Well, I did do my best to have my girls, Queen Bee and Queen Polly from Kelly Anderson, looking their best and I had spent a lot of time with them both before fair getting them used to walking well for me.  Guess what?  All my hard work paid off because I won the junior division in showmanship.  I went on to compete for overall showman against the seniors and I was chosen for champion showman!  I was shocked!

The final event for me was overall Large Animal Clover.  In this contest, all the first place showman compete by showing each species of large animals that were shown during fair.  I had to show a pig, horse, sheep, market goat, dairy goat, dairy beef, and dairy cow.  When they announced the winners, I could hardly believe it, they called my name as champion showman!  I am so proud of how my friends and I did at this year's 4-H fair and I look forward to next year.

I can not believe that it is already August!  It reminds me of a quote, "How did it get so late so soon?  It's night before it's afternoon.  December is here before it's June.  My goodness how the time has flown.  How did it get so late so soon?"  That quote is by Dr. Suess.  I can say that I will miss you summer and I will see you next time.  
                                                                                                      Your friend,


Showing Cocoa

Showing Cocoa

Daphne being shown

Showing Peek-A-Boo

Showing Peek-A-Boo

Sheep Showmanship

Sheep Showmanship

After Large Animal Clover

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Never Give Up

Hello everyone, I know it has been a while since my last post, but this summer is just flying by!  I can't believe that I turned 14 last week and school is about to start!  We had some exciting news here at Blue Mountain Farms the other day.  Tyler raises the Dexter cattle and he has been trying for years now to get a little girl calf.  Last year, Dream, Tyler's first cow, had a heifer.  Sadly, her umbilical cord was torn and she died moments after being born.  So, Tyler tried again and was hoping for a happy, healthy girl.  We waited and waited and waited.  Finally, the morning of July 22, 2015, Dream had her calf!  She had it over night without any problems.  If only it was always like that. 

As I was feeding that morning, I saw Tyler walking from the barn to the fiber mill were mom was.  I knew something was up when I saw the big smile on his face.  He said, "Madi! Dream had her calf!"  Immediately, I asked, "Boy or girl?"  He said, "A girl!"  Finally, Tyler has a little heifer that was born right here!   I am so excited for him.  After waiting all that time and he now he can show with his little calf and his cow, Dream.  How amazing is it that for his last 4-H fair, before he ages out of the program, that he is able to show full circle with this precious little calf and his favorite cow ever?  Oh, Tyler gave Dream her name because it was always his "dream" to own a cow.  Now if he could just come up with a great name for a great little girl.

4-H Fair sure is going to be a good one!
Tyler with his first calf from Dream
Dream and her calf

Dream and her calf

Here she is!