Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Good Friends Work Together

Better late then never, right? This American Rabbit Breeders Association nationals was one to remember! This convention is a rabbit show for ARBA members all around the nation to come and show their rabbits. This year, it was held in Indianapolis, Indiana and was from October 1st to October 5th. I had a lot of fun seeing and catching up with everyone I knew. I participated in the youth contests and I showed rabbits. I showed Giant Angoras, English Angoras, one Satin Angora, and one Flemish Giant. I was very excited to show my Flemish Giant, Sandy, since her coat was in molt all summer, but, right before nationals, her coat came into prime condition! I wasn't really sure what to expect, especially when I learned that there where over 100 youth Flemish Giants and 15 in her class alone, but when her class was called up, I watched as the judge was sending one at a time back to their coops and my Sandy was still up there! She placed first in her class and went on to win Best of Variety and Best of Breed! All of the Flemish breeders were so nice and excited for me and my bunny! That night, I had the opportunity to participate in an Escape Room with a few other D9 youth and adults, which was a lot of fun! We did escape the room after finding all of the clues, but we may have been about 20 seconds over our time... 

The next day, the youth Angoras showed. In English Angoras, my Senior does placed third and fourth in their class and received wonderful comments from the judge. Their placing was understandable since they recently turned senior age and they had a rough start resulting from them being raised on goat milk as kits after their mom unfortunately passed, but I am excited to continue showing them.  In Satin Angoras, my Senior doe placed second which was great considering she wasn't in the best show condition that day after beginning to blow her coat from the extreme temperature fluctuations in the weeks leading to convention. Finally, Giant Angoras showed. My senior buck, intermediate buck, junior buck, and junior doe all placed first in their classes and my intermediate buck went on to win Best of Breed and Rachel Penterman won Best Opposite of Breed with her beautiful intermediate doe! In the youth contests, I participated in the Management contest as well as the Achievement contest which are both contests that you send an application in on your achievements in your project as well as the caring and time you put in with your animals. I was the district winner and the national second runner up in the Management Average category and in Achievement, I won in my district and I was the national winner in senior! In breed ID, a contest where you identify the breed, size, and the variety of a rabbit or cavy, my team won third and in team judging, where you judge four classes of rabbits or cavy in 7 minutes, we placed second! I was so excited about everything this week brought!! I can't thank the Indy team enough for putting together a fantastic show. Also, I am so happy to be a part of an organization with such great leaders and role models! Looking forward to the next national convention!
Sandy and all of her awards!

My scarf that I wove won Best Garment in the wool skein and garment contest!

When your rabbit won't stand for a picture...

Sisters show together!

Scooter finally stood still!

Rachel and I with the judge and our rabbits

After Scooter won Best of Breed!

We make a great team!

Scooter on the Best in Show judging table!

And Sandy

A wove and put together a shawl and it placed first in its class


Sandy after she won Best of Breed

Sandy being judged

D-9 at the awards banquet
Achievement awards
Team judging

They are always there to support me!

We love our mom!

The ARBA President, Josh Humphries.  He is always willing to help and spend time and knowledge with youth in this industry. A great role model he is.

The ARBA Executive director, Eric Stewart.  He has taught me so much not only with rabbit and judging, but with my Angora goats as well.  I am very thankful to know him!

And.... photo bombed


Matt was a little tired....

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 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!