Thursday 29 November 2012

Has everybody got one?

Four big Gracie Moos.  Four little baby calves.  Oh yes, and the fifth young Gracie Moo who is just a teenager and not old enough to have babies of her own just yet.

Tuesday evening was bitterly cold and very windy and as I did the final check on the cows as I closed up the back door of the goat barn, I could see that the oldest and largest Gracie was sitting at the back doing a bit of huffing and puffing.  David climbed in to have a closer look and came back out to confirm 'yes, we're having babies'. 

So, I went off on my evening deliveries and David stayed with Gracie for her delivery.  And I have to say that it was quite a novel experience for me to be tucked up warm and cosy in bed later on whilst he was out in the weather waiting for babies to arrive!  I figure that he has to do it once a year to make up for all those freezing cold nights that I spend running out to the goats in my pyjamas during kidding time!

And here she is - the final baby of the year:

So, as last year, a nice balance of 2 bull calves and 2 heifer calves.  Well done Gracies!

During all the moving around of the past few days, one of the feed bins has been emptied and is currently lying on its side waiting to be moved into place and refilled.  Ginger was very excited when she spotted it as she thought it would be an easy way to get food.

Poor Ginger.  The look of utter disappointment on her little goatie face was something to behold.

And, talking of goats in bins .... here's another one:

This is young Ellie in the milking parlour.  She jumps off the ramp, runs round to the feed bin and lifts up the lid with her nose so that she can stick her head inside.  She is such a naughty little goat - I have warned her that if she continues to behave badly, we shall have to change the name of the dairy!  Don't think she cares much.

And so to bed ...  This was Beamish and Fremlin fast asleep this morning. 

Beamish is snuggled in the corner whilst Fremlin is sprawled out right next to him with his head on Beamish. Even those big smelly boys need someone to snuggle up to on a cold winter night!

Sunday 25 November 2012

All on the move

Today was the day when we had to bring all the goatlings back up to the main barn and move the female kids down to where the goatlings had been.  About 120 goatie people to move.  The logistics were quite complicated as it all had to be done simultaeously and so we borrowed several large trailers from other farmer friends.  We also enlisted the help of another sheep farming friend so that we had enough vehicles to tow the trailers!

The howling winds that we had during the night fortunately subsided quite early in the morning and then the sun came out - dry weather makes moving animals a lot easier.

First of all, we had to split off the female kids from the male kids who were staying behind at the main barn.  A lot of checking of eartags to make sure that we hadn't missed anyone and then a lot of lifting goats over gates to get everyone into the right pens for loading.

Although everyone was a little wary of running up a ramp into a trailer, they were all pretty well-behaved and loaded very well.

Then, with a convoy of tractors, pickups and trailers galore off we went:

When the goatlings returned to the main barn, all the milkers came across to see who had arrived and so there was a lot of standing up on gates and pointing of ears ..

The babies who moved to the other barn just went skipping around in the new straw before investigating their new home:

And everyone seems happy tonight!

In the midst of all the moving, we also discovered that one of the younger Gracie Moos had given birth to a bouncing baby girl!  Just the oldest and biggest cow left to calve now ..

Thursday 22 November 2012

Gracie Moos come home for the winter

Although the Sussex cattle are a very hardy breed, anxious father David likes to have his girls all tucked up in the cattle yard at the farm before the bad weather really sets in.  Especially when there are very little people around as well.  So, tractor and trailer went off up the road this morning and returned with three of the very large and round Gracie Moos.

Back off up the road to collect the remaining two with their babies and then everyone was home for the winter!

While we were moving the cattle around, I shut the back door to the goat barn.  Obviously, some of the more nosey goats then wondered what was going on.  Here's Polly and Pixie trying to see through the gap in the gate:

But the older ones have seen it all before and showed no interest at all in what was going on ... Here's our oldest girl Tammy just taking it all in her stride:

Tinky and Winky really couldn't be bothered with anything at all:

And Dolores just found the whole thing very boring indeed:

Our little black escaping man (who has come to be known as 'Nobby' for no apparent reason) seems to have acquired a couple more friends to play with:

The other black kid is actually his brother. 

These two little men have very characteristic faces with a slightly wonky nose.  In the goat shed this is known affectionately as 'a little Beamish face' as our lovely chap Beamish seems to throw kids with very cute little faces.  You can see the family resemblance.  Here's Beamish's mum Cilene:

The big man himself - Beamish:

And our little man - see his slightly upturned nose:
It was always an old saying that if a man wanted to see what his wife would look like as she got older, she should look at her mother.  The same is true of goats as well!  As the girls get to around 3 years of age, they really do start to look like their mums.
Our beautiful Gilly:
And one of her equally lovely daughters, Evie:
Big fat Footsie goat:

And one of her daughters - Rosie:

Dear old Betty:
Oldest daughter Perdita:

Younger daughters Campanula and Piella:

Same grumpy looking faces!!  And they all stamp their feet in the milking parlour.  As I have said before - naughtiness is genetic.
Right then ... I'm off out into the wind to get everyone fed and milked and tucked up snuggly for the night. Though some, like Thelma, were already quite settled earlier this afternoon!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Saturday night is quiz night ...

Ok.. so here we go.  Starter for 10 ....

Can you spot the odd one out in the following photograph taken in the parlour tonight?

No? ...  Need another clue?

Strange shaped udder??
Mmm ...  yes indeed.  Our lovely Welsh boy Macsen ...
As you may remember, Max now has free run of all the milkers.  His current girlfriend (for today) is the lovely Pebbles.  So, wherever Pebbles goes, Max follows. 
And here is Pebbles smiling for the camera whilst Max tucks into his dinner (typical bloke ..)

I must admit that it was quite amusing to see one of the big boys coming into the parlour.  Not that we had a lot of choice.  In came Pebbles, closely pursued by over 100kg of testosterone-fuelled male goat.  There's no stopping that in a hurry.

But he behaved rather well and I expect that we will see him again tomorrow now that he has figured out the system!

But it did raise a smile on a day that had not started very well at all.  I arrived very early in the barn this morning to find that we had lost our dear Lucy goat during the night.  Here she is lying behind her sister Marcie a few months ago:

She had been desperately poorly for a couple of weeks with the same illness that affected her sister Marcie about 18 months ago. We were treating her with whatever we could and she had been doing very well but on Thursday I felt that she was starting to lose heart and was not fighting any more. I did consider getting the vet in on Friday morning to send her to the big goat shed in the sky but she rallied on Thursday night and seemed to have got some of her fighting spirit back again. Even last night she still seemed to be trying. But sadly it was not to be and she left us sometime very early this morning.   RIP my lovely goatie girl.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Another little calf arrives

So there I was, minding my own business, bottling up lovely goatie milk for customers when David's dad suddenly appeared.  Apparently one of the cows was calving and it looked like she may need help.  With David away in Gloucestershire on a 'Goat Farm Walk', there was only the batty goatkeeper to lend a hand.

So, we picked up all the necessary paraphernalia like calving ropes, big bottles of lube and a rope halter and off we went in the truck to the field down the road.  Of course, she and the other Gracie Moos were on the far side of the field ... off we trudged.  When we arrived, there was one girl standing on her own and as we approached, she moo'd at us.  Strange, I thought.  They only usually make that particular moo when they have a calf with them.  As indeed she did ....  She had popped it out all by herself without any help from those humans.

Another little bull calf!

He is a solid little chap and was soon up and about.  He will be good company for the older boy who is growing up very quickly:
These little calves are so lucky - they really have 5 mums to look after them!

Sunday 11 November 2012

Lucky boys!

Well, with the mating season almost at an end, it was time to move the big boys around again this morning in preparation for some larger moves planned for the coming weekend.

First of all we brought Max and his ladies back into the barn from outside in the cattle yard.  Everyone inside spotted them straight away and so there was a bit of fighting as they all got back together.  Max will stay in with the ladies for the moment to catch all the stragglers who haven't been mated yet.  He was totally at home with over 100 girls around him!  Just takes the whole thing in his stride.  Here he is having dinner with a few of them:

Then we moved Fremlin and Beamish in together as they have finished their work now but we like to keep the boys in the main barn for the winter if we have the space.  It is warmer for them and they like to be with everyone else rather than outside where they can't see what is going on!

I expect those two will be snuggled up together tonight as they are very good friends.

So, the cattle yard is now vacant which means that David can bring the Gracie Moos back up to the farm for the winter - the grass is getting a bit short and the weather is starting to turn so best to get them into the yard where we can keep an eye on these new little calves as well.

Milking time was interesting as all the girls who had been outside with Max for a few weeks insisted on coming through the parlour, even though they are all dry and don't need milking.  It means they get a bit of extra food though! 

Betty, on the other hand, stayed over the 'dry' side of the barn and then strolled round to the back gate of the parlour where she waited patiently to be let inside.  Just a little snack to keep the strength up ..

And finally .. Katherine and Jess sent through a couple of photos of our little man in his new home.  Here he is with his new friend Socks and one of the girls:

The girls have decided to call him 'Toggy' (as he is a British Toggenburg).  Think it suits him!  They were also a bit concerned that he might get cold over the winter so convinced mum Pauline that she needed to buy him a proper goat-coat.  And here he is looking very smart:

I think he will probably be the most spoiled little goat in Kent!  He is a very lucky boy to have such a nice home.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Sunshine at last!

The goaties finally considered that it was dry enough to venture outside for a while today.  Not everyone was brave enough to cross the yard to the field but most of the girlies went out for a nibble in the sunshine.  It was lovely to see them all out again after the atrocious weather of last week.

Ginger is still up to her old tricks and I regularly open the barn in the morning to find her wandering about.  Or sometimes she is just snuggled up in a comfy place and can't be bothered to move. 

There are much warmer and more comfy places to lie in the barn but she seems to like lying around near the hay bales.  Obviously she must be warm enough otherwise she would move!

And the little black man is letting himself out for a wander as well.  He only tends to come out when we are around - just jumps over the hurdles.  Then, when he is bored, he just jumps back in again!

Life is full of naughty goats!

Monday 5 November 2012

The patter of tiny feet

The first calf arrived early this afternoon to one of the older Gracie Moos.  Not wanting to disturb them, I could only get a quick photo from a distance ... the little brown blob is our new little bull calf.  What a very proud and attentive mum she is.