Sunday, 5 February 2012

The white stuff

So, there you go - the weatherman was right.  Snow .. and lots of it.  Started late last night and dumped several inches over the Kent Downs (and other places) during the early hours of the morning.  I got up a bit earlier than usual and realised that I probably wouldn't be going to market when I couldn't push my back door open against the snow drift.

David was already out snow ploughing when I got to the goat shed .. We usually get a little bit of snow blowing in around the edges but the wind was swirling the stuff around last night and I swear that there was more snow inside the barn than outside this morning.  One side of the barn looked like it had been hit by an avalanche!

The milkers were all crowded together in a couple of small groups trying to keep dry whilst the little men were all covered in snow.  The big males seemed to have got off lightly and didn't have as much snow as those in the main barn.  So much to sort out, but what to do first?

Priority was the little men.  Lots of clean dry straw to lie on and hay to eat.  Sort out their water bucket and then they could wait for their breakfast until I had finished everything else.

Same again for the big males - clean dry straw, lots of hay and enough water to keep them going.  Only one tap working in the whole place which means carrying water buckets even further!

Then to the milkers .... they would have to wait for straw until David got back as it would be much better just to load a couple of big round bales in with the tractor, rather than fiddle around with little bales.  I filled up their hayracks (the ones not covered in snow) and then sorted them out ready for milking.  Had trouble getting the back door of the barn open - bit of a drift, as you can see from this pic (taken from the parlour, looking up towards the door):

Sent a couple of text messages to my market manager and a couple of loyal customers to tell them I wouldn't be at market today. And so, into the parlour.  More snow.  It's amazing how the stuff blows in through tiny holes and roof vents!

Had to defrost everything and make sure it was all working before I got the goats in.  Cleared the snow from the milking platform so that they wouldn't slip over and then hope that they would actually go out of the parlour, down the ramp and outside into the snow to get back into the far side of the barn.

So, off we went ... the clusters kept on freezing up while I was milking and so I had to keep pouring hot water over them to keep them going.  The goats were very good girls though - they seemed to know that it was a bit stressful this morning for mum!  They all behaved very well - and even went out into the snow without too much complaining.

David came back in just as I was finishing milking which was excellent timing.  He had been battling the local roads and the A20 to try and keep them open when the snow was drifting.

He had also managed to check on the female kids in their barn and it seemed that they were not too bad.  They were surprised to see a human so early but loved to get the extra hay that he gave them!

Filled up hayracks again for the milkers and put two huge bales of straw in for them so that they were all dry and warm.  Didn't take long for them all to settle down and get cosy.  They also had the added excitement of a large blue trough filled with water in their pen as all their drinking bowls have now frozen.

Much better!

Quick coffee (and cake!) break and then off to the little girls again to feed and hay them properly.  Gave them some straw as well although they had not suffered too badly.

Goats done!  Now for the cows .. the calves in the yard at the farm were fine apart from their water trough which has been frozen for a couple of days.  More buckets of water!

Then into the truck and down the lane (ooo, pretty ...)

... and off to see the Gracie Moos who are still outside in their valley.  The girls now have Benji the Bull to keep them occupied for a couple of months.  He arrived this week and will stay until April I think.  his real name is Playboy but he is known as Benji.  HUGE great beastie of a boy.

The Gracies (and Benji) were all fine but pleased to see us with some food for them.  Smashed the ice on their water trough so that they could get to water easily and that was them done!

Back to the goats and refill the blue water trough (again!) in the milkers pen.  Final check round that everyone was warm and comfy and off home for a couple of hours to get warm and have something to eat before we have to start it all over again tonight!


  1. Ellie dearest.
    WE thank you for even thinking of sending us a text when you are so busy looking after your extended family, on a selfish note.. I am mighty glad that SHE took those 8 litres from you last Sunday, otherwise Mr. Woe would be barging his way back into our kitchen and you KNOW how that makes HER.. grumpy somehow is not the right word!

    WE wish that there was something to send you to keep those water troughs from freezing, Constance used to put olive oil and a tennis ball into Bluey's water trough, it certainly helped.

    Eat lots of Ginger and Chilli to keep inside tummy warm, also keep sinuses clear of infection aka cold or flu by putting fresh Cloves with Ginger into your tea

  2. Dear GeeGee

    Thanks so much for your concern! You will be pleased to know that the goaties all have lots of ginger, liquorice root and garlic mixed in with their feed over the winter to keep them fit and warm. Great to hear about Constance's tennis ball, but sadly I don't think the olive oil would help as it is the water pipes that feed the water troughs that freeze. But all seems better today.

    So glad you are not at home to Mr Woe! I couldn't bear to think of HER being grumpy without her lovely goatie milk. Hopefully I will see HER again at Balham market this Saturday.