1. How did you get started in the Boer goat industry? We started like a lot of people we know did with the Boer goats, as a 4H and FFA project. Originally, when our kids were small, we picked up a few young dairy does, because our junior rodeo horses were spooked by goats. Those dairy animals turned into our daughters FFA Supervised Ag project. Our kids showed dairy goats, horses, cattle and naturally when they saw Boer goats they were totally excited to show them as well. I was on the county fair board when the very first became interested, which made me the superintendent by default. The Washington County fair was one of the first fairs in Idaho to allow market goats into the youth livestock auction. Wethers weren't easy to locate, so our son purchased some bred does and set about raising his own. His FFA Supervised Ag project was the Boers, and he ranked 5th in the National contest his junior year with his animals and bookkeeping. When he was a senior, I bought his herd, transferred them to my name, and Dixie Creek Boers was born.
2. What does your operation look like today? Our current operation consists of 25 does, and an odd assortment of bucks and juniors. Our focus is now on producing a good quality breeding animal, and some meat animals. Our typical customer is someone looking to produce some fair animals for their children, or to produce meat for their own consumption. Often they are people who are not new to livestock, but are new to goats. We enjoy taking the time and mentoring people just starting out with goats. We have been selling animals long enough now that we are getting return customers, which we think is a good indication of our success. Primarily our animals graze in the spring, summer and fall. We own and operate a commercial cattle operation, so the Boers are an easy addition to that. We grow our own alfalfa and put up some whole oats. Our doe herd rarely is fed grain. Junior animals are fed some pellets in addition to their alfalfa and oats. We have dabbled in the ABGA shows, making about 6 or 8 trips a year. Most shows I attend alone, and Steve stays home to take care of animals, irrigate and hay. This past year we both attended The Best in the West show and sale in Andersen California as well as The Great American Show in Corvallis Oregon. We both had a great time meeting new people interested in Boer goats and the ABGA. Moving forward I expect our operation to stay about the same size until I retire in a few more years from my town job.
3. What do you enjoy the most about the Boer goat industry? The animals! The personality of the Boers is so endearing. I grew up in Eastern Washington on a cattle ranch, and horses were a big part of my life. These big beautiful Boers have replaced horses in my life. I love how social they are, intelligent, and productive. I love that it is a livestock business that anyone with some hard work and a bit of space can enjoy and profit from. Kidding is probably my favorite time of year, it is challenging, rewarding, and also heartbreaking at times. We have also made some of the BEST friends through our Boer goats. I want to think about goats, talk about goats, read about goats all the time, so to meet other people that have the same interests is just the frosting on the cake!
4. Who was an inspiration to you or assisted you in improving your heard and how did they help you? I have had so many people who have freely offered advice and mentorship to me over the years, but there is one person who is ALWAYS there for me, and that is Becki Crighton. Becki sold us our first Boer goat buck and we met her in Yakima at a show to pick him up. The first ABGA show I ever was within miles of, so we stayed and watched for a bit. Jackie Edwards was judging that day, and I remember watching her send half the 0-3 month class back to their pens for off bites! I knew I really had NO CLUE about Boer goats or shows! Becki entrusted me with a number of bucks and does over the years, and the foundation of our herd is based in her Copper Creek genetics. Becki helped me learn to look with a critical eye, taught me about confirmation, and will still answer the random question of 'what would you do if.....' If our herd has a 'style' it is Copper Creek. The industry is filled with helpful people, and we feel blessed to have gotten advice from many, including Shelley Clark, Gabe Aguayo, Julie Carreiro, Kelly Haun, Kim Holt, Karen Kellar, Natalie Pruitt, Trevor Clemens, Terry Brown and Maddie Fenton all who have been so kind and helpful.
5. What has been your biggest challenge as a producer? Our biggest challenge has been building husbandry skills. The lack of veterinarians with goat knowledge, combined with the lack of medications labeled for use in goats has been difficult. Thank goodness for social media honestly were we can reach out to each other for real world experiences. We are fortunate to have a good relationship of over 30 years with our Vet Clinic because of cattle, so they do trust me when I say, hey, I need 'this' for a goat. Industry wise, I see the challenge as developing a consistent supply of meat that can be relied on for quality and size. I believe the Boer goat is the perfect animal to meet that demand. We grow our wethers to 130 pounds before marketing, taking each animal to it's full potential of quality meat production before harvest.
6. What are you most excited about in the coming year? In 2019 we are excited about our breeding program, we have reached back in time with the magic of AI, and we now have two sons of Tarzan T66 at Dixie Creek Ranch. Their dam is a modern, moderate framed JC Boer doe, with a gorgeous clean udder, great feet and legs and tons of muscle. We are pretty excited to see how these boys develop and plan to use them on some of our full blood does as well as some experimenting on Nubian does in the future. In other news, I have decided to toss my name on the ballot to become the region #1 ABGA Director. Excited at that prospect, representing the members of our area potentially is fun to think about. Thank you so much for asking us to be in the breeders spotlight, it is an honor!