Robyn Scherer: From the Edge of the Ring 2-4-13
February 4, 2013
The National Western Stock Show is one of the most prestigious shows in the country, and one that I have dreamed at showing at since I first started attending.
Last year, I got my first opportunity when I was showing some breeding sheep for a friend. However, they weren't my own animals, and it just wasn't the same.
This year I decided I would be showing my own animals, and I entered two goats, who I call Tara and Gem. I knew there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't win anything, because I knew there would be a lot of big name breeders who would be coming up.
However, winning was not what this show was about for me. I just wanted the opportunity to show at the historic venue, and have the experience.
The day when we brought the goats in, it definitely took more time than I had expected. I didn't know the system, and there is so much going on that it is easy to get confused.
After several hours of waiting, I was finally able to unload my goats, and get them settled in. It was a cold day, so they were grateful to be out of the trailer and into the heated barn.
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The show was held two days later, and I spent time washing and drying the goats in preparation. I had never used a cattle blower on a goat before, and was amazed at how much more efficient it was for drying them.
I then spent time fitting them, trimming hair to make them look more presentable. Finally, it was time to show them. I stepped into the holding pen, and felt the excitement bubbling inside of me.
The class was huge. There was nearly 40 goats in the class. I proudly stepped into the ring, and led my goat around. After several trips around the ring, the judge pulled the ones he liked the most to the center, and dismissed the rest of the class. Unfortunately, I was part of the group that was dismissed.
My prediction from earlier was correct, but I was OK with it. I know that I haven't spent on my goats nearly what some others have, and I've been in the breeding business far fewer years than they have. One day, I will be in the top group, and hope to win a class one day at NWSS.
The experience of showing at the Stock Show was good for me. I got to see a lot of great goats that we normally don't see in this area, and I could see where the industry is moving to. This information will be invaluable to me as I move forward with my program.
The same time that this show was going on, I had more babies being born at home. Just two days before the show, l checked my does early in the morning and to my surprise found twin doelings that were just born, and another doe that was in labor.
I waited with her, and watched as she also delivered a healthy set of twin does. I was glad to have these two does finished, and had just two left at this point.
About five days after the show, I had another busy baby day. My last purebred doe that was due delivered, and I had yet another set of twin doelings. Shortly after that my gilt that I bought out of Iowa went into labor, and I settled in for the farrowing.
Gilts can be scary to farrow, because you never know what they will do, or how they will react. However, this gilt, who we named Peyton after Peyton Manning, was wonderful. She had all the piglets on her own, and was very gentle with them.
Pigs are generally not gentle creatures, and this can cause piglets to be crushed when a sow walks or lays down.
I have farrowed in crates before and in open pens. For a while I preferred farrowing in crates, but after farrowing in an open stall this year, I think I will go back to that. It's much easier on the sow, and allows her to move freely after birth, which I think helps them to recover faster.
The only odd thing about this litter was that the gilt had 10 boar pigs, and not a single female. I've never had a litter like that, and it was certainly something different. However, I was more than grateful to have 10 healthy pigs and the gilt in good shape, so the sex of the babies didn't really matter to me.
At this point I had just one doe left, and then everyone would be done. The very next evening, I fed the goats and thought she looked just a little off. I stayed with her and waited, and sure enough, shortly after that her water broke.
I sat with her through labor, and ended up having to help her with the babies a little bit. They were quite large, and she was a maiden doe, so this made it more difficult for her to birth them. However, after a little time, they were delivered and she had the second one shortly after that.
This was my only set of mixed twins, and both were healthy. When she was done, I looked around the barn and reflected on how lucky I was to get through eight births, and a total of 24 babies without any difficulties.
I've had some rotten luck the past few years, so it was nice to have everything go right for once. It definitely makes you more grateful for the easy times when you have been through some rough ones. ❖