Thursday, February 26, 2015

Queen Bee and Queen Polly

Hello everyone!  Things have calmed down here a little after the whole Shadow Cat ordeal and I'm proud to say that she is doing very well.  So, my mom, Ashley, and I all planned on going on a road trip to visit friends in West Virginia.  This was exciting for me because a few months ago, Kelly (our friend) offered me a lamb.  Kelly, from Hopping Acres, has been involved extensively in the success of the wonderful Leicester Longwool breed as she has been working tirelessly for over 20+ years now.  When we saw her about a month ago, she actually said that she was giving me TWO lambs instead of one!  I was so excited for this because she puts a lot of work in raising her Leicester Longwool sheep.  

The Leicester Longwool breed is actually on the conservancy list, meaning that there are very few of them in the United States.   This May, the annual Maryland Sheep and Wool festival will be held.  Kelly and her friend Joan are a big part of this event and they have their own booth there.  They are going to be very busy from the time they arrive to the time they leave because this is the 25th anniversary of when the Leicester Longwool was reintroduced to the United States.  There will be a card grading event which will evaluate each sheep to the breed standard which is a very important part of making sure that the breed conforms to what the breed says they should be.  You want to preserve this wonderful breed, but we also need to make sure that we are doing it the right way.  In addition, there will be a country store and educational exhibits featuring the Leicester Longwools.  With all this extra work involved, Joan and Kelly won't have much time for their booth.  They asked us if we would be interested in watching their booth and we could even have some of our own items in the booth.  We, of course, said yes!  

Tuesday, we woke up at 5:00 am and headed down to West Virginia!  I was so excited and yet, a little tired.  I couldn't wait to met the lambs!  So, after a drive that felt like forever, we finally arrived.  We were greeted by a few dogs, Kelly, and even Joan was there!  After a long conversation about Maryland for the Sheep and Wool festival, we talked and laughed and talked some more.  We had a great time.  Kelly even made chili with Beefalo (Buffalo bred with Angus cattle)!  My mom made a batch of cornbread to go with it.  After a wonderful lunch, we talked a little longer about Maryland.  Can you believe how nice they were to let us use part of their booth to sell our own products?   

Around 1:00 pm, we went outside and I finally met the lambs!  They are such a nice representation to this breed and I can't even begin to tell you how happy and thankful I am for Kelly trusting them to me!  I am happy to say that I have three Leicester Longwool sheep now, Boo, my ram, Queen Bee, and Queen Polly!  All such nice sheep.  I can't wait to continue with this breed.  Thank you Kelly!   Hope to see you all at the Maryland Sheep and Wool.  If you are there, stop in and see us at the Leicester Longwool booth. 

Kelly and I with Queen Bee and Queen Polly hiding in the truck.

Queen Bee!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

If farming were easy, everyone would be doing it!

Hello everyone!  There was a bittersweet experience in the barn on Monday morning!  Shadow Cat (one of my Angora goat does) was down and not even able to walk.  Without hesitation, we carried her to her own stall and immediately called the vet.  She didn't have a fever, but she wasn't doing well at all.  She couldn't even hold her head up, she was twitching, and I was very scared.  The only way that she would calm down, was if I would pet her and talk to her while I sat on the barn floor next to her.  If I would get up, she would become very stressed!  So, I stayed with her in the stall while my mom called the vet.  About  two hours later, our vet arrived and gave us three options.  One of the options was to throw the medical book at her to save her, but still have the chance of her and the kids not making it.  The next option was cutting her open to take out the babies because she was suffering from pregnancy toxemia.  Finally, the last option, was try to save her and induce labor because the pregnancy was what was causing her illness and possibly lose the kids depending on how far along they were. 

She hadn't bagged up as yet, so we were thinking that the baby or babies weren't going to be ready yet, but we didn't want to lose Shadow Cat.  The vet also told us that we were her 6th call in the past three days for the very same thing and the outcome for the doe, in all 6 of those cases, wasn't good.  I chose to do the final option.  While I was excited to see babies from her, I didn't want them at the expense of Shadow Cat.  Shortly after we had given her all the medicines, she was finally able to just rest.  Boy, did she rest.  At one point, she was in such a deep sleep that she was snoring louder than a lumberjack cutting down an oak tree.  

We spent the rest of the day checking in on her every 30 minutes to make sure she was okay.  I had to attend a 4-H fundraiser later that day and really didn't want to go, but I did.  I spent the whole time selling milkshakes thinking about Shadow Cat!  I am glad that mom is such a trooper and was able to give up time in her day to check on Shadow Cat for me!  By the nighttime feeding, Shadow Cat was standing on her own and eating a little bit of grain.  I continued to drench her with Nutri-drench and Dextrose in hopes of making her stronger again.  By Wednesday, she was back to her old self.  She was eating, drinking, and moving around on her own.   To my surprise, at 8:00 P.M., she delivered two little doe kids; however, they didn't make it.  They were both stillborn because their lungs weren't fully developed.  This feeling is like a hit to the stomach considering that you wait for five months and see your own goat suffer and lose her kids.  The heartbreak was compounded as I held one of the kids while Shadow Cat was doing her best to clean the lifeless, little one.      

I cleaned out her stall and brought two of my other does to her so she would have company.  By Friday, she was eating, drinking, seemed to be much stronger, and was even the Alpha of the pen again, but sadly, she was still calling for her babies.  I couldn't feel any worse about the outcome of this whole thing, but like I said, I didn't want to lose her and judging by the size of the kids, I'm not sure that she would have been strong enough to continue her pregnancy until she and the kids were ready.  I am happy that I made the choice that I did, because if I wouldn't have, I would have lost all three does, the two kids and Shadow Cat.  I can say though that even as hard as this experience was, I did learn a lot and I am glad that I have such a great veterinarian that taught me a lot of what I know now and I hope that some day I can be a veterinarian like her!

Here is Shadow Cat saying hello to Willow the day she came here!  
Her bright blue eyes shining for the first time since last Monday!
Shadow Cat makes a lot of funny faces!
Shadow Cat and Willow today

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Hello everyone!  This past weekend was a very busy and exciting weekend for me.  I have talked about ARBA and Farm Show, but this time, I want to write about PaSRBA!  PaSRBA, the Pennsylvania State Rabbit Breeders Association Convention, started on Friday and ended on Sunday.  There was a royalty contest for the youth to participate in with winners announced at the Youth Banquet on Saturday night.  After submitting a lengthy application by January 1st, all of the contestants judge four groups of four rabbits, complete breed ID, and attend a face to face interview. For the judging, you have to place four rabbits the way that you think a rabbit judge would place them in each class, and you only have seven minutes to do it.  As for the Breed ID, there are at least 25 rabbits and/or cavies (guinea pigs) that you have to identify by writing on a sheet of paper:  the breed of the animal, it's variety that it would be shown under, if it is shown under four class (a small rabbit) or six class (a larger rabbit), and finally, the registration variety.  Duke, Duchesses, Princes, Princesses, Lords, and Ladies are required to do Showmanship as well.  Instead of doing Showmanship, the Kings and Queens have to prepare a 3 - 5 minute presentation.  The top two get to present their presentation at the banquet.  All of the youth participating in the royalty contest, will have to take a written test.  The ages for each of the categories are as follows:  King (Boys, Ages 15-18 years), Queen (Girls, Ages 15-18 years), Duke (Boys, Ages 12-14 years), Duchess (Girls, Ages 12-14 years), Prince (Boys, Ages 9-11 years), Princess(Girls, Ages 9-11 years), Lord(Boys, Ages 5-8 years), Lady(Girls, Ages 5-8 years).

I ran for Duchess and I always love to participate in this contest. Two of my favorite events include Breed ID and showmanship. I also like the interview because, well, I like to talk to people! When it finally came to the time of the banquet, I was very excited! After everyone ate their food, we held an auction with some amazing items to raise money for our program.  I was proud to have donated an Angora scarf that I had woven at the Pa Farm Show as well as a pair of fingerless mitts that I had knit with my own Angora yarn.  The scarf and mitts sold for over $200 and that money will go back to help fund the youth program I enjoy so much!  

So, after a lot of studying and preparing for this contest, I was about to learn how I did.  I am very fortunate as my county 4-H program works really hard to help educate our members so we are prepared for the contests.  So many of the youth did such a great job representing this wonderful event!  For breed ID, I won 1st, third for Showmanship, and fifth in judging! I was very pleased with how I did in those three categories, and it was time for the royalty announcements! Lord and Lady are announced first, then Prince and Princess, Duke and Duchess, and finally King and Queen. When they began announcing the Duchess category, I was so nervous.  I could hardly believe it when they said, "The 2015 PsARBA Duchess is, Madison Shaw!" My head was spinning.  By Sunday, I already was beginning to think of things I could do to help promote this fantastic industry in a positive light.  The program has helped me grow so much as an individual and I am extremely proud to be a part of it.

I also want to say how proud I am for all of the other youth with how well they did and how nice this year's PaSRBA convention was because of all of the volunteers. Thanks for making this year's convention great! 

Breed ID awards


                                          The 2015 royalty court! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

National Make it With Wool Contest

I am very happy to say that I am home from a wonderful trip to Reno, Nevada.  I had such a great time and I am glad that I was afforded the opportunity to go.  Thank you Pennsylvania Sheep and Wool Growers.  Two days before we left, our flight was canceled due to the impending "Snowmagedeon" and it took four and a half hours to reschedule it!  So, we now had a connecting flight to our destination which was to begin in Baltimore, Maryland.  At this point, I had packed my bag, and little did I know, I would be able to fit all of my stuff in one small duffle-bag!  Forgetting about the possibility that I would be purchasing any souvenirs...  Let's just say, I am glad that Mom and Ashley left some room in their bags.  So, we finally arrived and managed to get a shuttle ride to the hotel, which was made up of two huge towers, and checked-into our room on the twelfth floor.  I was only going to be able to stay with Mom and Ashley for Wednesday night and Saturday night.  The other nights I was in a room with three other girls from other parts of the country who were also there for the contest.  

Wednesday came and went so quickly that before I knew it, Thursday was here and it was time to check-in for the contest.  Right away, I took my stuff up to my room and noticed that two of the girls had already been to the room with their things.  I was excited to meet them.  That night, before we all had to go to the rooms for bed, there was a meeting for all of the contestants, directors, and family members.  After the meeting, we all had an icebreaker game called "Never Have I Ever".  We learned a lot about each other, ran a lot, and it was safe to say that we were all tired after that game.   Earlier that day, I met a girl from Wyoming and I did not expect to see her walk into the room that I was staying in!  Then a girl named Marie came in, she was very nice, and finally, a girl from Kentucky arrived.  Her name was Gillian.  I had some great roommates from all parts of our great nation!  

So the first day of the contest was set to begin.  The first thing that we had to attend was a workshop called "Behind the Scenes and Seams".  It was about plays, what costumes they used, and all of the detail that was put into each costume.  It was a very educational workshop and I learned a lot.  

We also had a lot of rehearsal for the fashion show that was going to be held on Saturday.  Rehearsal was about all we did on Saturday, before the show.  For the show, we each walked up on stage with flashlights and stood there until a certain part of the song "Shatter Me" by Lindsey Stirling played.  We all turned on the flashlights and waited until the violin solo, we then turned off all of the flashlights and walked off in groups of three on each side.  Once everybody was off of the stage, we started the modeling.  I was second to go.  Everyone had to walk on stage to the microphone and say a fact about your state regarding the sheep industry and agriculture.  It was quite simple for me to come up with a Pennsylvania fact.  Mine was on the Farm Show.  I simply stated that, "My state's number one industry is agriculture.  We have the largest indoor agricultural event in North America which has a large showcase of sheep and wool exhibits."  After everyone went, we had the finale!  Again, we all walked onto the stage and a young, eight year old girl sang "Let it Go" to correspond with the theme "Frozen in Time."  The whole convention was a celebration of 150 years for the American Sheep Industry!  After the finale, we held the awards.  Even though I didn't win and award, I think that just being given the opportunities that I was given on this trip was an award in itself!  Hope you enjoyed this blog!  I'm already planning my outfit for next year! 

Me modeling my outfit for the state convention.
A few pictures from Nevada!