Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A new calf for Xmas

Big old Gracie Moo decided that she wanted her waistline back and so this gorgeous little creature arrived on Sunday afternoon:

Another little heifer calf.  Wasn't too keen on coming out apparently and so David had to call in more experienced reinforcements to help her on her way (thank you Alan!)

I think she is going to be a big girl like her mum as she is about the same size as the other two older calves already!

I have to say that the weather has been a bit rough the past couple of days.  Just a tad windy and wet last night!  We were very lucky and didn't even lose power which was something of a miracle as it tends to fail at the drop of a hat!  There are a lot of trees down though and water everywhere. 

Talking of water .. the goaties like to drink from the large blue buckets outside the milking parlour as they finish milking and return to their barn.  However, every morning they are rudely disturbed from their little routine.  What has this white goatie spotted?

It's Ben!  As David's dad walks round to check on the cows, Ben dashes round the gate and heads straight for the concrete block by the water buckets, scattering the goaties.

He is convinced that something small and furry lives inside the block and he spends quite some time with his nose stuck in it, patiently waiting.  Every morning - the same routine!

At last, all the cheese is delivered and the fridges are empty.  Although our goatie routine continues as normal over the festive period, we can hopefully have a little bit of a rest as we don't have to rush about delivering for a few days.

And as last year, I leave you with a delightful piece written by a goatkeeper in Wales.  Merry Xmas everyone!


There is a very lovely ancient tradition that holds that on Christmas eve, at midnight, animals are given the power of speech. I’ve even heard it said that at midnight, all the animals sing songs of praise.

Walking into the warm barn, coming in from the icy, windy dark outside, it’s easy to believe this lovely story. I look into the slender faces of my familiar, much loved goats, with their dark eyes and knowing expressions, and I can easily imagine them opening their mouths to sing at midnight. Glenda, Wandi, Patsi, Juliette – I know all their names, and I can tell them all apart, as identical as they might seem to a stranger. I can imagine just how each of their voices might sound, raised in the choir. Juliette rears up her hind legs to have her cheek scratched – just there, by the hinge of her jaw –and to rub her head lovingly against my shoulder.

I come here every day, twice a day, to milk these goats and commune with these lovely animals, and they have taught me a thing or two about miracles.

They have taught me about dedication, and patience, and discipline. Waking up at 6 am on a freezing morning, and going outside sounds like a punishment when I’m wrapped in my duvet. But as soon as I haul myself up and out, and into the barn, I realize the truth of it – coming into the barn is my reward. The teaching really is in the practice – putting my hands on the goats, tending them and receiving the healing milk that they give me, is all I need to know of magic.

The Christian tradition holds that the king is born in midwinter. The pagan tradition too, speaks of rebirth in the time of darkness. It is a principle as old as man, when we were frightened and crouching in the caves, waiting for the light to return. Peasants have milked goats as long as humans have been around, and I follow this time-honored tradition with gratitude now, as the warm streams of milk hit my pail in a fragmented melody.

In that song, I can hear everything I need to know about rebirth. These goats are pregnant in the darkness, gestating new life. In the spring the kids will be born, and the milk will be freshened. The life force dies back, and blossoms up again. New life. It is a miracle that we few – who are lucky enough to tend the farm – learn over again with our hands and feet, arms and eyes and hearts, every year without fail.

Christmas eve, in the darkness – the goats and I wait together in the silence. We wait for the rebirth that is certain. It is certain as life, certain as breath, as certain as the knowledge that someday, spring will come again and light will return to the world.


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