The Road To Redmond

Trials and Blessings Getting to Nationals

The American Dairy Goat Association (AGDA) sanctions more than 1,200 dairy goat shows around the U.S. every year. The ADGA National Show is the largest and most prestigious with 1,500 to 2,000 entries every year. A win at Nationals not only gives the owner bragging rights within the goat community, but it also allows them to ask more for their breeding stock. More importantly, Nationals is a place to meet, and share information with, other dairy goat owners. This year it was in Redmond, Oregon.

For many, the long drive with a trailer full of goats, equipment, and supplies went off without a hitch. Others were either not so lucky, or very lucky indeed. This is the story of two families and their adventures on the road to Redmond.  

The Babcock Family

The Babcock family of Sweet Deseret Farm started on the road to their first national show with a plan to arrive by 7:00 am on check-in day. The trip went great until “about 60 miles from nowhere, in Idaho, the transmission seized.” They called friends and a wrecker, but it was the weekend after the 4th of July and they couldn’t get through to anyone. Finally, they called their son who had stayed behind to take care of the farm. He rescued the humans and goats, leaving all the equipment with the truck. They arrived home around 3:30 am, milked the goats, and went to bed. 

Abagail Babcock at Nationals

After a couple of hours of sleep, Daniel Babcock got up and started trying to figure out how to get to Redmond. He thought, “How am I’m gonna buy a truck on Saturday and still make it in time for check-in?” He called a friend who works at a car dealership to see if they rent trucks. The friend said, “No we don’t, but my wife and I bought a truck three months ago. We’d like you to use it.” 

Just in Time

They hit the road again, every seatbelt in the borrowed truck full. When they reached their truck they unhooked, transferred everything from one vehicle to the other, then hooked back up. The show requires all animals to be on-site and checked-in by 9:00 pm on Saturday. They weren’t going to make it. They contacted the show committee and explained the situation. The committee agreed to allow them a late vet check, but said: “We’re going to bed at midnight.” 

The Babcocks pulled in at 11:47. “And the remarkable thing is there’s Lauri Acton, smile on her face, even though she’s had a long day. Ken’s got a smile on his face. Chris has got a smile. It’s like, ‘We’re glad you’re here.’”

The Babcocks with their mentor, Judi Hoy

The show was well worth the adventures. “Everyone was so kind and welcoming, and willing to talk, and willing to help. It was amazing to be in the ring with such remarkable people and goats. We made the top 20 with seven entries. Our highest placings were 9th and 10th.”  

The Hellums Family

For Kim Hellums, the trip to Nationals was something of a family reunion. Her daughter, Amanda, had recently married Kyler Wilson and moved to Virginia. Kyler took leave from the Air Force to come to Nationals, his very first dairy goat show. Kim, Amanda, and Kyler left from Caldwell, Idaho on Friday night, Kim driving a motorhome pulling the trailer full of goats, Kyler and Amanda driving their pickup. On Saturday morning, just over an hour away from Redmond, a tire blew out on the motorhome. 

Kim told Kyler and Amanda to take the goats, go on ahead, and get checked in. “And so we unhooked, and they hooked up and went on,” said Kim. “I sat and waited for the Les Schwab guy. He changed the tire and he looked underneath. I asked, ‘Is there any damage?’ No, everything’s good.” Two hours after the blowout, Kim got back on the road. 

Where There’s Smoke…

Fifteen minutes later, Kim smelled something but assumed she smelled the blown tire riding in the back of the motorhome, so she kept driving. She looked back into the motorhome and thought it looked misty. “I literally took off my glasses, looked at them, and went ‘Oh yeah, they’re dirty, okay,’ and threw them in the center console. Kept driving.” The motorhome filled up with smoke. Seven miles before Bend, Oregon, Kim pulled over. She flagged down the Les Schwab guy, knowing he would have a fire extinguisher in his truck, then called her daughter. 

Kim went inside the burning motorhome two or three times to grab stuff and throw it outside. “Don’t do that,” she says. “I would not recommend it.” Finally, the Les Schwab guy, who was on the phone with the state police, told her, “You can’t go back in there. You have to get away from there because of the propane.” Within six minutes of pulling over, the motorhome was completely engulfed in flames. Six minutes after that, the propane tank exploded and spewed flame over the pile of bags Kim had risked herself to throw out. “I lost everything. Everything. By the time it was over, I had flip flops, a pair of pants, and a tee-shirt. Luckily, the animals weren’t attached because there’s no way you could have been unhitched in that time frame.”

An Outpouring of Support

Kim posted pictures of the burned-out motorhome on her farm webpage and the Road to Redmond Facebook page, saying, “Well, this isn’t how I expected to start Nationals.” Other dairy goat owners responded, asking Kim what she needed. Someone started a PayPal fundraiser for her. Someone else lent her a popup camper for the show. With the money from PayPal, they were able to buy necessities like toiletries, clothing, and show whites. Because of the kindness of both friends and strangers, Kim, Amanda, and Kyler were able to not only attend Nationals but show their goats. “The outpouring was tremendous,” Kim said.

Trials and Blessings

The next day while in the show ring, all the stress caught up with Kim. The tow bill came in at $10,000, and the motorhome only had liability insurance. They lost irreplaceable things like Amanda’s and Kyler’s wedding video. The police said she’d probably have to pay for damage to the highway. “I was just done and bawling, I just left the room. I just sat there on the backside of the arena and bawled.”

The family ended up placing well. Kyler’s youth fitting team came in second out of 23 teams. Most of their goats not only made the top 20, they even had a first-place winner in Jr. Yearling Saanen. “All in all, it was a great show and we are so proud of how our girls did,” Kim wrote. “We love our girls wholeheartedly and are thankful we have been blessed with such incredible animals and that everyone returned home safely. Thank you to everyone who offered love and support during the show and look forward to seeing everyone again!”

Originally published in the November/December 2019 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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