Caprice Acres had less than ideal beginnings. When I was 11, I got my first goat, despite my fathers proclaimed hatred of them. A miniature doe, Daisy, became the foundation of my addiction to goats and their care. I soon expanded my passion to chickens, ducks, and rabbits. My miniature goat herd expanded and to feed the bottle miniatures that I was raising, I bought my first registered American Alpine doe, Heidi. Soon after, I bought another american alpine doe, Dance, from a big name show breeder in the area. She was born and bred from a disease free herd in WV, but must have become CAE positive while owned by the farm I bought her from in MI. Sadly, she brought CAE into the herd. Heidi was a milk drinker would rush over to the milk bucket and suck down milk if you weren’t careful. Thus, she too became CAE positive despite a previous negative test result. Thankfully, I was feeding kids with pasteurized milk and the virus didn’t spread to other individuals. I bought new alpines from a clean herd, and butchered Dance and Heidi after they kidded out. I was very close to those does and butchering them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. That summer, I also sold the rest of the dairy herd because I thought that I wouldn’t have time around college to care for a dairy herd. But, I couldn’t stay away for long and within 2 years I had new foundation does from Grace-Hill. And yes, the rest of my herd has tested clean for CL, CAE, and Johne’s since butchering my positives.
Over the years my interests expanded. I started into meat rabbits with some rex/lop mutts I found locally for cheap. They would NOT grow for a darned, so I invested in a trio of purebred New Zealand Whites and a trio of purebred Silver Fox rabbits. I quickly decided I hated the New Zealand Whites because of their horrendous temperaments, and that I LOVED the Fox with their cuddly teddy bear temperaments. Plus everybody who touches their fur is sure to fall in love with them. 🙂 The Foxes I started with are admittedly only low to middling quality, but my mantra is ‘breed the best, eat the rest” and using that mantra I’ve managed to improve my stock dramatically simply by strict culling. It also helps that my rabbitry is only 22 holes and contains two breeds, It means only the absolute best stays for extended periods.
I purchased these purebred rabbits in 2009. Initially the goal was simply meat, but I decided to expand my rabbitry slightly and of course, that means selecting to keep the best young ones to replace them. I started making connections with other Silver Fox breeders and even attended rabbit shows. I managed to get some partially pedigreed stock in trades, which expanded my numbers and gave me a nice project to work with. And so my interest in rabbits grew. I attend a few shows per year – about 5 or so on a yearly basis – and I am extremely prould of where my Foxes place on the table. I have won several legs on several rabbits at this point – not bad for as few of the shows that I go to, and for the small numbers I own/show. 🙂
I still always admired the New Zealands for their meat qualities, which surpass the Silver Foxes in my opionion. I decided to try again, this time with New Zealand Blacks. Though nervous and skittish, they are NOT mean like the whites. I’m currently working on building my numbers of New Zealand Blacks.
Early winter 2009, my father told me his dream of farming our 20 acres for profit. Until this year, all farm projects were ran by myself. The only thing my father did was pay for chicken food. Nutrition, breeding, housing, cleaning, and all maintenance was solely my responsibility. We talked to a knowledgeable person at the county extension office, who advised us to start a meat CSA farm, where individuals would buy shares of the meat produced on the farm on a regular basis. We’re still not sure if we’ll go the route of a CSA or not, but if we do we hope to provide chicken, rabbit, turkey, duck, goat – and possibly pork and beef in the future. I hope to offer milk shares, eggs, produce, herbs, and homemade products as well. In light of my father retiring soon and being able to help doing chores and paying for things, I expanded my goat herd by purchasing a pair of French Alpines and 5 Boer does in 2010. We plan on sticking mainly to meat goats but will keep a small number of dairies around to provide us with milk and maybe a little available for shares.
In the couple years before my dad retires, I hope to train him on animal husbandry. From small things like hoof trimming, what is a good body condition/weight for the assorted animals on the farm, and nutrition – to kidding out goats, assisting births, disbudding kids. Not to mention trying to get him to gain the ‘eye’ of good conformation versus ‘bad’ conformation of the assorted critters on the farm. Anyone who is in the business to make money knows how involved and important health, nutrition, conformation, breeding, and excellent care are to the productivity of livestock.
In fall 2011 I moved to Lansing to attend MSU full time. I had completed my Associates degree in science at the local community college, now it’s on to start realizing my dream of attending MSU! I am currently in the Animal Science Bachelor’s program, with a concentration in pre-vet. I hope to apply to vet school fall of 2012. This means my father has been in charge of the farm during the week, but I come home every weekend to do the more difficult tasks. I am only an hour away from the farm so it’s not like I couldn’t drive home in an emergency.
For the 2012 breeding season I used AI for the first time on my boers and alpines. I had 4 semen recipients – 2 alpines, 2 boers. Of the 4, both boers and one alpine took, pregnancy confirmed via biotracking! Not bad for a completely untrained person doing AI unassisted for the first time ever!
2012 breeding season was also the first time I’ve utelized CIDRs and PG600 to cycle does. The 2011 breeding season was a disaster, with does due all over the board, mainly because I wasn’t there to monitor heats/breedings and my father’s time constraints and ability to take them to the buck or the buck to them. Now in 2012, I have 9 does due within my spring break and the remaining 3 have their heats planned. I *LOVE* using CIDRs/PG600. 😀
Winter 2013/early 2014 – I received notice in Dec 2013 that I was admitted to MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2018! I promptly sold my boer goats – 7 bred does and a boer buck.
2014 saw our Alpines back on DHIR and yet another year of LA. Magnolia had the appraiser who doesn’t seem to care for her (her first score and most recent score are the same appraiser… lol), but she still produced 3650lbs this year and until a mouldy bale of hay and parasites set her back, she hit 19lbs per day – unfortunately not on test, of course. Her highest on test was 16 lbs I believe. That same appraiser that never likes Magnolia does like my buck, and Sharp Dressed Man did appraise very well this year, we really think he looked great this year. A mature alpine buck is a beautiful sight! We also kept a home bred jr sire out of Magnolia and SG Sunshine Rehma Reprise +*B. Very excited for the AI breeding that took this year – another Magnolia AI litter, sired by SGCH Aslan’s-Own Diamond’s Alex +*B.
2015: Magnolia ended up aborting the AI kids despite being confirmed pregnant, so she never kidded in March 2015. Glitterati also did not take AI nor when attempted to be bred to the immature Jr buck, Disco, so she was open in 2014. Elise was the only young doe to freshen. Because of the lack of milk, we did not offer herd shares in 2015, nor did we participate in LA for 2015. We did attend our first buck collection in Nov 2015 and will be participating again in the future. We had our Sr buck, Sharp Dressed Man collected successfully, but we couldn’t get our young buck, Caprice Acres Disco Volante to successfully perform well – he would go through the motions but not put out any volume! 😉 Though he hadn’t been bred in over a year, and they are supposed to be worked the week before collection – I just don’t have the numbers of does nor the correct breeding seasn for that to happen. We successfully settled all 3 does AI this season – Grace-Hill Magnolia was bred again to SGCH Aslan’s-Own Diamond’s Alex +*B. Caprice Acres Glitterati was successfully bred to SGCH Cherry Glen Radical Hallmark +*B, both due 1/6/16. The ‘late’ doe of the year was Caprice Acres Elise, successfully bred AI to Tempo Aquila Danziger for 3/10/16 duedate. 😉 Shortly before Thanksgiving 2015, dad noticed ‘pink spots’ in the snow but we couldn’t tell who it was coming from. On Dec 1st we sold our Sr buck, Sharp Dressed Man. Since it was 5 weeks before kidding, I thought I’d get the two does due in Jan up in the stand. Glitterati was normal, but Magnolia had brown vaginal discharge – and a lot of it. She was aborting again. At this point we weighed our options and decided to do a necropsy on her – she was far from likely to ever hold a pregnancy again, and we’d get a pittance for her at the meat auction – so her value to us now was answers. Thankfully no signs of any sort of infectious abortion, but a very strange amyloid deposition occuring in her uterus that got all the Pathologists at DCPAH excited because of it’s unusualness. Cause is unknown, but at least we have answers that it will not harm our other does.
2016 started out well, with a beautiful single doeling 1/2/16 out of Caprice Acres Glitterati and SGCH Cherry Glen Radical Hallmark +*B! She is quite huge, and a beautiful light chamoisee with cream/black trim and leg stripes. She has been named Caprice Acres CGRH Panache, and will be staying here to freshen for us in spring 2017.
2017 was an exciting year for Caprice Acres! We had our first ever does score EX90, and ALL of our home bred does acquired their SG status over the course of the year! We are happy to introduce SG Caprice Acres Glitterati 2*M 04-06 VVEE 90; SG Caprice Acres Elise 03-06 VVEE 90, and SG Caprice Acres CGRH Panache 3*M! We had a very nice kidding season, and we even kept a french doe kid – Caprice Acres Irish Red. Named because she was born on St. Patrick’s day, and she is a lovely two tone chamoisee with her hindquarters a rich bay-red. Not to mention one of my favorite beers, Killian’s – is an Irish Red. Ties in nicely with her sire’s name, also a beer. “Red” is the daughter of Elise (see above) and my Jr. Herdsire, Sunrising Charmer Weizenbock *B. She seems to be a very nice cross between my foundation French lines and the very popular show lines that her sire brings in. Looking forward to her freshening in 2018! 2017 also saw some loss – we suddenly and unexpectedly lost our Caprice Acres Disco Volante *B, the littermate to Elise. We are expecting final kids of his in our herd, as he covered Caprice Acres Irish Red this year. We may just have to keep something from that breeding, depending on what’s born. It will be heavily linebred on my foundation doe, Magnolia, as well as SG Sunshine Rehma Reprise +*B. In addition, he was also was used heavily in a friends’ herd and collected this season, so we have 30 units or so of him in the tank. Likely that’s more than we will ever need for personal use. 🙂 We also euthanized our long-time pet miniature goat, Boston, before winter. She had broken her shoulder a few years ago and remained mobile and comfortable for a few years. This year, she really spent a lot of time on her knees which indicates progressive arthritis in other joints in her front end. With her age and the coming of winter, we opted to euthanize. We have also aquired many new sires via semen purchases, including purebreds and americans, many of which are POLLED! They are mostly “dead old guys” but I am very pleased with the production behind them. I find using dead old guys a little risky sometimes, bringing back some poor structure and traits that are less desireable – but I still strongly believe that a mid-80’s LA doe would still be very structurally sound and if she milks like a cow then I’d rather have her over a pretty EX doe that doesn’t milk for beans. 😉 I will use them wisely and combine with typey animals, then cull hard to hopefully harness the best possible between production and type. Some of the bucks only have daughters out of very low appraising does – and while the daughters were improved, they weren’t the greatest so it reflects poorly upon the sire. In those cases it makes a sire look much worse than he really is.
2018 – the year of change. I graduated from MSU College of Veterinary Medicine on May 4th. On May 6th, my boyfriend of 2 years proposed. In mid May, we moved an hour north of Lansing (where we used to live for my school), to Lakeview MI. Unfortunately that meant my goats – who have always lived on my dad’s farm in Brooklyn, MI – were now 2hrs 15 minutes away from where I lived. And, my father admitted he’s tired of milking goats 2x per day every day for 10 months out of the year. Something I cannot blame him for! I am so thankful for my very good local friend Heather and Adrian Quick (Quarter-Mile Farms) in Hudson MI for taking in my does for me until I can get my own home purchased up here in Lakeview where I can have them at my own location! For now, the does will still be in my name, and will continue DHIR in their herd.