I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have 1 1/2 hours of something to share with the camp kids. Then when I got on the bus to greet our visitors(Jock too!), I saw Floyd Snyder, who had given me advice about goats before I even had them. His son loaned us our first breeding buck too. Also here was Dawn Dancey, a 4-H leader who was an original "goat person" I was told to talk to. I felt like the novice teaching in front of the Harvard professors! Pressure! My "lesson plan" was to share how I use the blog, and the Internet sites available, to market the goats and the farm. I was to explain how we use pastured grazing as our method of keeping our goats healthy. Here I planned to demonstrate the use of electric netting as I had learned about it on my first PASA Field Day. About half the kids seemed to be from farms, so they probably had as much experience as I did, but I was to try and share from a fairly new herd owners perspective. I think the phrase "learn from my mistake" came up a few(many) times. We brought the goats out of the barn, and since they wanted to check out the visitors rather than go directly to their field, the kids helped bring the goats up to the hill. Good start! Everyone came up in a line (goats, kids and "big" kids), and we all talked about who had goats, our Boer goats, and a bit about pastured grazing. I told them how we try to get on fresh field every two weeks to keep the parasite load down, and only medicate when we have to. As we talked, the goats just hung around and listened too. All were SO well behaved! Then it was time to try out the newest Kencove fence. Since all four of my electric net fences were in use because of weaning and regular grazing, Kencove in Blairsville gave me a 40 foot section to use for demonstration. That worked out well to show how we go from a rolled up bundle, to stretching it out, and stepping it in. It was also really nice to have a person per post. It would be really handy if I could borrow these kids every week or so! I think everyone got the idea of how flexible this fence was to move just about anywhere, but a couple of the girls commented on how short the fence was. I have never had a goat go over any fence, but sometimes under or through. With all fences and other parts of animal care, training is key. My little ones are trained to these fences first under my watch so that I know they don't get stuck, and that they all learn to respect it. I do understand dairy goats can also be better jumpers than my meat goats, but having good browse on the inside of the fence is also key to keeping them in. One thing I did not make clear to the visitors is that this fence needs to either be attached to another live fence, as we do it, or needs its own power.Just as it started to rain a bit, we moved into the barn to talk about different ways to tell people about your farm or product. This blog shares a lot about all aspects of the farm, but it does give a prospective market goat or meat goat customer a peek about where these animals live. We also have a lot of people just visit and tell their friends about the goats, and the blog becomes a transition point for people who think goats are dirty and eat tin cans. One of the first things people comment on is how white the goats are, or how clean. I made a business card for the kids with our Onthepond email, AgMap site and this blog address. These are all currently free ways to share information. Then I showed a little slide show that I had prepared on my lap top for a chef who was interested in cooking goat. I explained what some of the pictures were and why I chose them and the fact that I photograph most everything. I told them to document everything so that they too will have the information when they need it.I am happy to say that my adult visitors knew I would appreciate many photos, and I thank Dawn for her camera and Andrea for taking these pictures.
The campers are from all over this corner of the state, and were the most polite kids you would ever want to have visit.
Good Luck to All of You this Fair Season!