Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2017 >Daily Dispatch #234

August 27, 2017: Interlude

A perk of being an Alaska State Fair employee is that you get a parking permit and employee badge, so you can come and go at your leisure. Recycling volunteers get admittance tickest and parking passes. I haven’t had much time for fair doings – but I have been spending considerable time in the agricultural barn. This is because this year, my goat Stormy is one of two demonstration milking goats.

Twice a day, she’s milked by Chelsea, the goat demo Dairy Queen. At 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Stormy hops on a stand, and as she is milked, Chelsea answers questions. Rumor has it that on one day two hundred kids saw this wonderful Alpine doe get milked.

I’ve been checking in on Stormy and her buddy Ranger who is usually her home-based buddy. He didn’t like the moniker The Lone Ranger, so we took him over to the ag building and put him in Stormy’s pen.

The two caprines have been having a wonderful time, as literally hundreds of fair goers have stopped by to admire them. I have been answering questions about the two and about goats in general. I have also been answering questions about some of the other animals on the row; this includes the two Jersey cows, one of whom has a calf, the adjacent Toggenburg goat, the two Angus calves, and the llama. The llama and the calves have been also been doing petting zoo duty.

Yesterday, Saturday, was the State Fair open sheep/goat/pig show. Suzy Crosby, who sold me Stormy (and is my goat mentor), encouraged me to enter Stormy in a class. I at first balked because I would have been embarrassed if I’d done poorly and misrepresented Suzy and her husband Mike’s Cottonwood Creek Farm.

However, I rightly deduced that the publicity would be good for Pete and me. Come spring, Stormy is going to have kids, and I want to find them good homes. Consequently, a strong placing would be in Stormy’s offspring’s favor.

I have an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, and while in school I was on the horse judging team. And I have showed horses in-hand. But I had never shown a goat. I quickly worked at getting up to snuff by watching a You Tube video, and prior to the goat classes, watched the sheep classes.

I was blown away by the expertise of the competitors and the level of expertise of the judge. He did an excellent job of explaining to competitors and observers alike what he as a judge was looking for. And he spent the most time with the younger showmen and women. He (for one) told them to watch the adults in their classes, and in this way learn from them. In all instances, he stressed the importance of maintaining eye contact with the judge and staying on the correct side of their animals – in other words, keep the animal between yourself and the judge.

I further observed that those who did well were calm, focused, and simultaneously attentive to the judge and to their animals.

The goat showing followed the sheep. I took Stormy to the waiting area, and there we stood for fifteen minutes of so. Chelsea, who has been milking Stormy, told me that Stormy had been shown before, which explained why she was so calm. No mean feat considering she was surrounded by about two dozen others, of varying breeds.

When finally, our name was called, Stormy strode into the arena like this was her rightful domain. I did as Suzy instructed and stayed by her shoulder, while at the same time holding the upper portion of her collar.

We were the only one in the “Does five and older,” class. I stopped Stormy, set her up, and looked the judge right in the eyes. He nodded, and then in a long glance, appraised Stormy. I swallowed hard a few times in hearing his subsequent commentary. He said that Stormy was an excellent example of an older milking goat, and pointed out that she had a near perfect udder and topline. After saying a few more complementary things, he came over, shook my hand, and handed me a blue ribbon.

I thanked him, and exited the arena. Stormy and I were then called back in for the division championship class. There were about a dozen goats of varying breeds in this class. Repeatedly, the judge’s eyes swept the lineup, lingering on Stormy. I stood tall with my shoulders back, and one leg in front of Stormy. And she struck up her show stance, looking straight ahead with her rear legs back.

The judge again appraised the goats in the class. Again, he was drawn to Stormy. The thought that entered my mind was that this was a man who not only knew a good animal when he saw one, but also took great joy in seeing good animals.

His final commentary (which was addressed to both the onlookers and competitors) took all the goats and their good breeding and care into consideration. But his final words centered on Stormy, who he said “was worthy of the division championship.”

He then came over to me, again shook my hand, and gave me the division ribbon.

Stormy balked when we were asked to leave the arena. Most certainly, this was her moment in the sun, and she did not want to give it up. I told her that there would be many more – and I meant it.

Next: 235. 8/27/17: Eulogy for Freebird

Horse Care Home About Us Dispatches Trips Alys's Articles