1) How did you get started in the Boer goat industry? From the age of 18 I have had some sort of livestock, horses, cows (beef & dairy), sheep, goats etc. When I got married we started a cow dairy. Our girls were born into the farm life. When my 2 daughters were very young their dad died suddenly. Keeping dairy cattle was at that time more than I could or wanted to handle but I still wanted to keep my girls involved in some sort of agriculture. I suggested goats. The girls did their research and we found a Toggenburg breeder in Chehalis, Wa. Mike and Evelyn Korhonen were so gracious, helpful and kind in helping us get started. My youngest, Evelyn, took the Toggenburg breed and excelled! Showing and winning all across the US and selling nation wide as well as internationally. My eldest, Esther, her heart was still with the cattle. She raises, shows and sells beef Shorthorn and fits and shows for other cattle breeders as well. I really don't recall where I first saw the boer goats, but wherever it was, I was smitten. By then the girls didn't need my help as much, so I decided it was time to pursue my dream. We found a breeder in Oakland, OR where we purchased our first 6 doelings in 2004, this was the start of our commercial herd, I wasn't interested in showing at the time. About 2 years later we went back and purchased 6 more doelings from Cliff and Marilyn Burke. Blue Fields Farm was born.
2) What does you operation look like today? We started with 12 registered commercial type does and 1 registered commercial type buck. The herd grew quickly with good sales for market project wethers. Our herd grew to 25 - 30 does and too many kids to count. With two herds of goats, dairy and boer, everyone in the household working full time and going to school, it was beginning to be more work than enjoyment. I also remembered how much I enjoy showing, so a couple years ago the decision was made to reduce the numbers = reduce work load = reduce cost, and keep just a few does and concentrate on breeding A.I. to bring in new and better genetics. So today our herd consists of 4 breeding does, 2 geriatric does who have earned their retirement, 5 yearling does, 1 traditional mature buck (Capriole's Personification) and 1 solid red coming yearling buck (Blue Fields Good Knight Moon).
3) What do you enjoy the most about the Boer goat industry? So many things! The people, the beautiful goats, seeing what everyone has produced over the winter. What direction breeders are taking with their herds. Hearing about the newest show items and tools available. The sharing of experience and knowledge. 4) Who was an inspiration and helped you improve your herd and how? Without a doubt the person who has and still does help me is my daughter Evelyn. She is a wealth of information, knowledge and experience. She has a curious mind with the ability to soak up and retain information. Her success with her herd continues to inspire me to improve my herd. She helps me in every aspect on the farm. She has an amazing eye for conformation and quality. She is my AI tech and my right hand. Her goat husbandry is beyond compare! Another person who has and continues to inspire me is Terry Brown. I so admire her and all she has done for the Boer goat industry here on the west coast as well as across the nation. I was truly honored this year at the BoerNanza Sale when she purchased my paint doe, Blue Fields Dior. I can't wait to see what she produces for Terry.
5) What has been your biggest challenge as a producer? I think as small breeders who don't live near the "hub" of the industry we are frequently overlooked. It's a challenge sometimes to get people to see the quality you have. Folks often think they have to go way out of state to a big name breeder to get quality when very often it's right there in their "back yard". Flashy show goats aren't always the place to start, we all want those kind of goats, but as a breeder I put more value in a good, strong, structurally correct proven brood doe. Bred to the right buck she will give you the "flash" you want. So I would say breeding sales is one of my biggest challenges. The other challenge I see with the boer goats, at least for me is finding bucks who breed "true". Pass on their good traits consistently when bred to does of different styles. And to be perfectly honest, I don't really care all that much what the buck looks like, as long as he is structurally correct etc. What I want to see are his daughters, from different dams and his granddaughters. What he will produce, his consistency. Breeders rarely show daughters when advertising a buck, and really, isn't seeing what the buck will pass on, the thing we should be looking at before choosing a buck to breed to? Not every buck kid born is destined to be a herd sire. In the 14 years I've been breeding goats, I have only kept 2 buck kids as bucks. The rest weren't good enough.
6) What are you most excited about for the coming new year? BABIES!!! There's nothing like the smell of a baby goat to calm the nerves after a stressful day of work, so like everyone I am excited to see the product of my breeding choices. Excited to see how we do in the show ring and excited to see old friends and make new ones after the winter break. Excited about a trip to AZ for the wedding of one of my nephews and then a trip to CO to visit my sister and her husband. Oh and the biggest excitment is my new kitchen! Finally after 16 years of dreaming!