Bradyn is now in his last semester of college. He won't actually graduate until September, but he will graduate with his Bachelor of Arts in Music as a 19 year old. That early timeframe also means a very compressed schedule. We don't see him much, but we are trying to enjoy every minute we do get. He plans to apply to graduate school and none of the potential programs are anywhere near Virginia. Not having him at home is something I truly cannot yet fathom, but its coming.
Mark started graduate school last year. That truly continues to impact the amount of work and repairs we can do on the farm. He cannot milk a large string and all other goat work falls to me. And so, the 2015 goal of cutting the herd hard will continue through 2016. We only retained 2 kids last year. I'm not sure how many we will retain this year, but it won't be many other than bucks.
I also have three children to home educate and Lilly, who is now 4, is slowly doing preschool work. We had hoped to attend the ADGA National Show this year, as it is being held in my hometown and at a location that I can navigate with my eye closed, as I showed horses there a lot growing up--The Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. There is no way I can swing that this year. We will be back on the Linear Appraisal schedule this year as our LA falls in May - well out of the summer music festival and camps season. Declan is still progressing well with his cello and will probably be out of the state most of the summer pursuing cello studies. And as for me--I want to get to the beach with the littles! So, I continue to try to balance the herd with a busy family.
However, I am VERY excited about how well the herd is continuing to do. We're in the mode of watching the offspring of our proven animals start their own milking careers, We are also getting to the point where we are very familiar with most of the genetics here and really can start to count on what we will or won't see. in new kids. We had planned not to bring in an outside buck until 2017, but with the untimely death of Wild Card, we were lucky enough to add a wonderful Tiny Town junior buck to our herd last year. The girls continue to milk well, even on less than ideal local hay. I continue to work with balancing the mineral deficiencies inherent to our soil, as well as continuing to figure out natural parasite management and ideal breeding ages for our lines. I love that I am still learning! While we don't get around to fancy pictures and lots of shows, our girls are still milked twice a day, 365 days a year and stay on DHIR all year.
We had our first ever December babies this year--including Christmas Day babies from Elf (seriously...)! We had a mild December, so that worked out wonderfully. We have all but one doe due by February, which means I will spend Spring milking, watching and then deciding who to sell. We have an unprecedented 4 (and maybe 5) first fresheners in the string this year. They can't all stay, but I'm taking time to milk them and see what we have.
Our fast lane of long days in Raleigh for music lessons, orchestras, etc., home education for 3 children and a preschooler, a husband in grad school (and he works full time) and just trying to get out a do a few things here and there is still very, very blessed life. Please feel free to comment or even swing into the farm to see what's going on. Happy 2016!