When Lotus wrote the last post, she was convinced the farmers had completely lost the plot.  Over the course of a week the girls had been bathed, clipped from head to toe, and had both of their ears tattooed.  Even though they didn’t realize it, this was all to get them ready for their very first show!

“Oh, where are we going? Somewhere fun?!”

We don’t intend to show the does much while they’re this young, but we decided to attend a couple of shows this season to get them used to extended periods of travel, as well as being in the show ring around lots of people, and other goats.  This particular show was held in Red Bluff, at the Tehama District Fairgrounds in Northern California, hosted by the North Valley Dairy Goat Association.

The show was five and a half hours north of the farm, the furthest the goats have ever traveled

Although we’ve attended goat shows previously, until this weekend, neither of us had any experience showing goats in the show ring, so this was an excellent opportunity for all of us, the goats, and the farmers, to gain some experience.

Friday afternoon we loaded Lotus and Minnie into the truck, in their crate.  We’d been practicing going on a few very short trips near the farm, just to see how they’d behave on the road.  The first trip out seemed quite stressful for them, especially Lotus, who really seems to despise wiggly roads.  Once we were out on the flat though, going at freeway speed, Lotus finally settled down, and seemed quite happy.  Until we exited the freeway, and started driving at city speed again.  Apparently, when you’re named after a famous make of sports car, slow traffic makes you cranky!

A few short trips close to home helped to acclimate the goats to the car before the long trip

With the goats, and all the show gear loaded and ready to go, we set off for the show, which meant a five and a half hour trip north.

Goats don’t travel light! In addition to this, we had feeders and water buckets, hay, treats, supplements, and the stanchion to load in the truck!

This is the longest journey Lotus and Minnie have taken in their crate, but the whole trip…with the exception of driving through a swarm of bees that was crossing the freeway around Walnut Creek…was highly uneventful.

During a trip this long, especially in warm weather, we were a little concerned about the goats getting enough water.  Fortunately, as we are not quite done weaning yet, they were more than willing to take some water from their bottles while on the road.  I don’t advocate bottle feeding water during weaning, but in this case it proved to be a quick and efficient method of ensuring they stayed hydrated during the trip.

They won’t be weaned for another week, so it was easy to offer water from their bottles

We arrived at the fairgrounds a little before 7PM on Friday evening, bedded down their stall, and got the girls settled in.  This show was open to most breeds of dairy goats, large and small, and by show day the pens were full.

This show was open to eight breed classes: Nubian, Alpine, Saanen, Recorded Grade, Nigerian Dwarf, Oberhasli, LaMancha, and Toggenburg

We quickly realized though that the rails on the stall panels where Lotus and Minnie were housed, were spaced too far apart, and unless we wanted our goats to escape, we’d need to do something else to ensure they were secure when they were unattended.

“Wait for me Minnie! I don’t fit through here, I’ll try the next rail up”

It’s clear that if we choose to show kids this small in the future, that we should either construct, or purchase, a portable pen that can be placed inside the stall to prevent escapes!  We made do though, and simply locked them inside their crate in the stall area when we couldn’t watch them.

“Maybe I can sneak out when they’re not looking…”

Despite shaving the goats nearly bald prior to the show, the coats of both goats were getting a little shaggy by show day, so the next morning we did a few touch ups before the show started.

The senior doe show was in the morning, so Lotus and Minnie’s turn wouldn’t be until the afternoon.  Once the girls were fed and groomed, we went ringside to see some of the show, little knowing that we’d be recruited to help show someone else’s does in the ring that morning.  I think we were both a little nervous, but this was an excellent chance to practice our goat handling skills, and improve our goat-to-handler coordination.  I’m relieved to say that neither one of us managed to trip over the goats in our charge, and we were very grateful for the experience.  Thank you Sarah!

This pretty little doe is “Castle Rock Annika” being shown (not very well I might add) by yours truly

After a quick change of clothes at the hotel, in the mid-afternoon it was time to take Lotus and Minnie ringside.  Unfortunately, with two doelings in the same age class, and only two handlers, it meant we were both in the ring together at the same time.  As such, neither of us was able to take any photos, or video, of the girls in the ring.  However, I did get a very short clip of them both waiting patiently in the pen before the show.

This was a four ring show, meaning Lotus and Minnie had four opportunities to compete in four rings for their age class, with four different judges.  This was an excellent opportunity for us to experience some differences in how the goats are shown in the ring (which depends on where the judge is standing).

Minnie patiently waiting to head out to the ring on show day

Minnie had a great start in ring one, and placed first in her (albeit small) age class, consisting of does born in February this year.  This allowed her to re-enter the ring with the first place winners of all the classes of junior does, for a crack at Grand Champion. She didn’t win of course, and we didn’t expect her to, as she was competing against does much older than her, but it made for an exciting start to the show.

Lotus set off to a slow start, placing fourth with the first two judges she encountered.  However, in ring three, Lotus managed to pull first place in her age class too.

“Pfffft! See Minnie, I did it too!”

Lotus is a much more robust looking doe, and has always been quite large for her age, so she has a tendency to stand out in a crowd of does her age.  In fact, yesterday when we weighed them both, Lotus weighed a full 7 pounds more than Minnie, coming in at 20 pounds, compared to Minnie’s 13 pounds!

We were very happy with how Lotus and Minnie both behaved in the ring.  Lotus did bounce once or twice, but overall they were much better behaved in the ring than we might have expected for such young goats.

After a long afternoon competing in four show rings, we finally returned the girls to their pen to catch up on food and water, and to let them rest before we set off for home Sunday morning.

We’re both so very happy with how their first show experience went.  There was no drama getting to the show.  They seemed to settle in well once they arrived, and enjoyed having some new neighbors to spend time with.  Both Lotus and Minnie behaved much better in the ring than we expected, considering how young they are, and a first place position for each of them was simply icing on the cake.

“We had fun! Aren’t you proud of us?!”

Maybe now they finally understand all the fuss we’ve made over them the last few weeks…or perhaps they’re simply happy to be home.