Sunday, 28 June 2015

More goaties on the move!

You may remember that we sent almost 150 of our youngsters to start a new herd in Herefordshire last year.  Well, Andrew and Diane liked the girls so much that they asked if they could have some more this year.  So, a few weeks ago, David took around 50 female kids to their new home and this week was the turn of the next lot.

So, leaving Milking Mel, vet student Tessa and Auntie Anita in charge, we loaded another 49 little girlies into our trailer and headed off to the Welsh border.

The babies travelled very well and skipped out of the trailer into their new home:


They were soon helping their new mum Diane and jumping all over the bales in their new house.


It was lovely to see all the other girls well settled - the kids which David moved up there a few weeks ago were all sunbathing and relaxing in a barn at the top of the farm:



Whilst the older kids taken up in January, had grown well and were still up to their old tricks of climbing into the hay racks!


But the biggest change was the goatlings who are now all big old milking goats!  There were some lovely big udders amongst them and I was very proud to see how lovely they had all turned out.  Diane and Andrew had bought them a new toy that morning - a couple of big brushes mounted on a post that they could scratch and play with.  Very popular it was too!


But one of them had decided that she would like to climb the ladder and go and help the electricians who were working on the milking parlour roof ..


Andrew very kindly allowed us to interfere in evening milking and David soon got stuck in

                                      

The parlour is much bigger than ours and takes 40 goats at a time.  The girls all queue up to get in:


And they are pretty well behaved as they are being milked ..



It was so nice to see them all again and many of them did recognise us, though a couple looked very confused as to why we had turned up in their new home!

And just to prove that it's not just our goats who are silly .. here's one of Diane's little meat boys:


It was lovely to have the chance to take Andrew and Diane out for dinner after milking and catch up on all the news and compare notes on all those goatie bits and pieces!  An overnight stay in our beautiful B&B at Lowe Farm, a huge breakfast .. and then back on the road home to Kent with an empty trailer.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

More excitement for babies

Barely had the little people recovered from their trip to Balham when it was time to trot back into the trailer and trundle round the M25 on our annual visit to the Rackspace Green Fayre.




This was our 3rd year as guests of the company and we received a very warm welcome as usual.  Being old hands at this game, the little people were soon out of the trailer ..




And were absolutely delighted when Auntie Sal turned up to see them again!


As usual, Sal had brought both human and goatie goodies with her and the small people were soon investigating what was on offer.  This little white girlie discovered that she liked rosemary very much!


This is young Mbuzi just checking out what was happening.  She is a very pretty little girl with very unusual markings .. she reminds us of some strange little African creature and so one of our work experience students, Ben, suggested that she should be named 'Mbuzi' which is Swahili for 'goat'.


The Rackers were thrilled to see the goaties again and many of them asked to feed the babies and give them cuddles.  For many of these teccies, this is probably the only animal contact that they have all year!


As the afternoon wore on and the temperature started to rise, the little people soon got tired and had to lie down for a little siesta.


And it wasn't long before they were absolutely flat out asleep!


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, David was taking full advantage of the hot weather and was busy mowing grass ready to make hay.  Young Monkey decided that she should be the official taster and so off she went into the middle of the field just to check that everything was OK.


Whilst most of her friends were just lounging around in the sunshine ..


And finally .. just to bring you up to date with Marmite cat ... Here she is hard at work in my washing basket:



Tough life eh?!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Goatie babies' day out

Well, even though I say so myself, the goatie babies were a huge success at Balham Farmers Market yesterday!

I loaded up 6 of the little people into our trailer and drove them (nicely!) all the way to Balham.  This was very exciting and a little bit scary for them as they have never been out of the farm.  And I have to say, it was rather strange towing a trailer full of goaties round the Catford Gyratory!

They all travelled very well and came leaping out of the trailer as soon as I opened the back:


We set up on a piece of grass to the side of the market where everyone could see them.


Anthony was on duty on the stall as I was intending to spend the day tiddling with the babies



Our lovely friend Sal also came along to visit and ended up helping Anthony serve customers.  It was lovely to sit back and watch other people work.

Everyone loved the goaties and many of the children were excited to be able to bottle feed them.  Needless to say, the babies enjoyed this more than the children.


There were lots of other activities for the children as well and the Punch and Judy show drew quite a crowd.


The little goaties were absolutely worn out by the time we got home and they all went straight to sleep!

David had been very busy while we had been out enjoying ourselves and he had finally finished bringing all the haylage bales back to the farm.  Endless loading and unloading .. So now we have something of a bale mountain at the back of the goat shed.


Not the most attractive thing to look at but at least it means that we already have a lot of winter food in stock for goaties and Gracie Moos.  And the main harvest still to come!

Today was also an exciting market day as I trotted off for the first time to the recently established Slow Food and Living Market at the luxurious Rosewood Hotel on Holborn in central London.

The weather was not kind to us today but there were plenty of stalls there and the whole place looked absolutely amazing.



A few stalls were set up outside the hotel on the pavement to entice shoppers in to the market:



And the shoppers were entertained by a young musician called Zoot who played a hand pan


I have never seen anything like this before and the sound which came out of it was just wonderful. Here's a very short video of him playing .. make sure your volume is turned up!

video

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Monkey goes milking

If you happen to be in the Balham (South London) area this Saturday, call in to the Farmers Market and come and meet a few of our goatie babies.  I will be taking around 6 of our little people to market for people to cuddle and feed .. they are very lovely so do come and see us if you are around!

Meanwhile, our new mums and babies are all getting along very well, although Pippi is being a bit of a bossy goat to the younger mums when it comes to feeding time.  But most of the time, all is well .. Here they all are:


From bottom left going round .. Naomi, Pippi, KitKat, Sadie and Aretha,  All with their respective baby goaties.

Young Husky-Monkey is still growing and spends most of her day just wandering around the farm.  Yesterday morning she was running around playing with the two collie dogs!  Here she is in one of her quieter moments ..


In the morning she follows her Auntie Ginger into the milking parlour for breakfast.  One morning this week, she decided that she would also go up the ramp to see what went on 'upstairs' ..


She is so much like her mum was at her age ..

David is having a very busy week as harvest has started already!  The grass is growing really well at the moment and so he decided that he would cut and bale one field to make haylage.  For those of  you who don't know, haylage is almost hay but is slightly fermented.  It is cut and dried like hay but baled and wrapped just before it is completely dry so that it ferments slightly as it warms up.  It is really nutritious for the goaties and they absolutely adore it!  A good bale of haylage smells just like a lovely glass of cider .. yummy!



Friday, 5 June 2015

Old girls out grazing

Dear old Betty and Wilma goats just love to wander around places where they are not supposed to be.  They come into the parlour and, when noone is paying attention to them, they head off up the passageway and out of the door ...

They know where to find all the tastiest bits and pieces that they both enjoy so much.  So, we always know where to find them when they take themselves off for a little walk..

Up the side of the tractor shed ..


Behind the milking parlour ..


And off into their 'old' field ..


And, here's another couple of old girls out grazing ..


Goatie Anita (on the left) celebrated a rather significant birthday a few weeks ago and so I thought we should have a little outing along with Anita's best friend Nettie (on the right, pulling a face!).

Anita has many favourite things which include floral print, bunting, caravans and cake.  And, believe it or not, I managed to find somewhere which combined all of these things into a wonderful afternoon for the three of us.

There is a little place called Bessie the Caravan .. Run by a wonderful lady called Karen, there are 3 little vintage caravans which are available for various celebrations.  We booked Bessie Buttercup for an afternoon tea.



And what a tea it was!!  Pink bubbly, lashings of delicious tea, sandwiches and lots and lots of cake!



The weather was perfect and the little caravan was just amazing.  Karen's attention to detail is quite stunning ..



And she also looks the part with her vintage clothes, handbag and shoes!


We all had a wonderful time and didn't need to eat for about a week afterwards!  And just in case you get a hankering for some cake, Karen also owns Bessie's Tea Parlour in Broadstairs.  Very popular it is too!

Meanwhile, back in the goat shed, The Big Experiment is underway.  How exciting, I hear you cry!  What can it be?!

Well, don't get too excited ... It's just a little trial to see how a small group of goatie mums and babies get on if we leave them all together.  As you know, we take babies away from mums after about a week - we are, after all, a dairy herd, and so we need the milk.  We continue to bottle feed the babies until they are good at feeding and then we move them to automatic teats so that they can feed themselves whenever they like.

But, as you may have gathered from previous blog posts, this is extremely labour intensive and takes an awful lot of time and effort to do it properly.  Not that we mind, of course ... but we just wonder if there is another way.

We would much prefer to leave mums and babies together until babies are weaned.  This is a much more natural way of doing things and we already know that babies usually do much better with mum than with humans feeding them, even though we do put all our effort into it.  The obvious drawback with this is that the babies take all the milk and so we have nothing from those mums for around 3 months .. not a very commercially viable option.

Or is it??  We don't really know if the goats are capable of feeding their babies and having a little bit of milk spare for us as well.  We suspect that it might be possible .. just to milk them once a day (instead of the usual twice a day) and let the babies take the rest of the milk.  We would have to feed the girls a little more to allow for their extra milk production but this would still work out viable ..

And so, the last few goats to give birth this year are all being kept together in a separate area with their babies at foot.  We bring them into the milking parlour at the very end of milking so that we can measure the amount of milk that they give us ..

These were the first two - black goat Aretha and white goat Sadie started the experimental ball rolling.


They have now been joined by Naomi:


And today, Pippi also went in with them.

All the girls find their own space and generally keep their babies away from the other mums.  The babies, however, do have other ideas and often play or sleep together.  And so far it all seems to be working very well.  Watch this space!

And the last girlie to have babies is our lovely big KitKat goat ... her youngsters seem to like to use her as a climbing frame so that they can reach the hayrack more easily!