Thursday 28 February 2013

More mums and babies

Seems that Polly started the ball rolling as we have had a few more babies arrive during the week.  Incidentally, Polly and her two daughters are all doing really well.  I took the tiny girls to the vet this afternoon to be disbudded so now they have those weird green circles on top of their heads for a while!

Here they are fast asleep at tea time tonight.  I have already decided to name them PollyAnna and Fremlina after their parents.  PollyAnna after Polly as I was worried that we might lose her and so we needed to carry on the name.  Same for Fremlina ... my lovely old boy is getting very dodgy on his back legs and I don't know if he will be able to work later this year (yes, I know we said that last year!).  So, as this tiny girl is his first daughter of the season, I thought she should take her daddy's name.

Next new mum was our first goatling to give birth.  Young Lucretia did it all by herself yesterday morning and gave us one female and one male.  The boy is very pretty with a white splash on his forehead and across his back.  I have a feeling that these are the first grandchildren for our dear Norville (now in Somerset) but need to check all my pedigrees first before I send him a card!

Then our lovely Hebe had two boys last night:

She delivered them early in the evening and, as she is an experienced mother, we cleaned everyone up and left her to sort them out.  We did try to get the little ones to feed but they were not having any of it, and so I planned to leave them for a couple of hours before I tried again.  Most experienced mums can get their kids to feed by themselves and I was confident that Hebe could sort them out before I got back. 

However, when I returned to the barn, the babies were still trying to find their supper, despite Hebe's best efforts.  She was still standing up and looked absolutely exhausted.  She would not sit down until her babies had been fed!  So, with a bit of a struggle, I managed to get both boys fed - we did have a bit of a battle as they clamped their tiny mouths firmly shut, but we got there in the end!  I scattered lots of fresh straw around, gave Hebe a well-deserved banana and some warm water and watched as she finally lay down and went to sleep next to her babies. 

And finally - Willow decided that she was going to have her babies this morning.  We had a bit of a struggle to get the first female out but she was closely followed by her slightly smaller sister.  Again, Willow is an experienced and dedicated mum and she was soon on the case, cleaning them up and chatting away to them,

Maggie looks like she may be thinking about something tonight so as soon as I have posted this blog, I'm back off up to the barn to sleep in my trailer.  It was very cosy last night despite young Lucretia bleating every time she heard me move!

Night night everyone!  See you in the morning ...

Monday 25 February 2013

Mitzy on trial

So who is Mitzy?  A goat?  No.  A cow?  No.  A cat?  Yes!

Isn't she gorgeous?  So, the story of Mitzy goes something like this ..

One of my customers found Mitzy and her litter of newborn kittens in a box dumped in the road outside their house some weeks ago.  They took them all in and looked after them and have managed to rehome all the kittens.  However, they already have a selection of animals including 2 dogs and also try to encourage a lot of wild birds into their garden - so not the ideal place for a cat.

I had met the very friendly Mitzy on my deliveries and it had been suggested that I might like to take her.  Of course I would .. but I was concerned that Marmite might object.

Only one way to find out ... so on Saturday morning I brought Mitzy home to meet Marmite.  There was the initial spitting and howling but, having made her point, Marmite wandered off upstairs and Mitzy made herself quite at home on the rug in front of the roaring coal fire.

The past two days have not gone too badly and I think Mitzy may be here to stay after all.  There is still the odd spitting competition, which is only to be expected, but Marmite has been really very generous about letting Mitzy into 'her' home and I think they will get one fine together.

Here is the pair of them this afternoon - Mitzy stretched out on the rug in front of the fire and Marmite snuggled up on the sofa.

Obviously we don't know her real name but my customers had just been calling her 'Mrs Cat'.  One of the main characters in a book that I am reading at the moment is called Mitzy and I thought it suited her (and also sounded sufficiently like 'Mrs Cat' that she might respond to it).  So, Mitzy it is ..

Meanwhile, Polly and her little people are doing very well ..  Mum was busy eating hay (still with her snuggly fleece jacket on):

Whilst those little girlies were fast asleep with full tums:

And Valerie seems to be enjoying her new accomodation out in the hay barn:

David managed to get a pic of me and my lovely boy Daramac this evening - just thought you might like to see just how tall he is now!  I am 5ft 10in ... and he's not even at full stretch!!  Big lad ..

Sunday 24 February 2013

A Sunday morning surprise

Do you remember Polly?  The exceedingly naughty goat who constantly misbehaved in the milking parlour?  Well, poor Polly has been seriously ill for the past few days and we were afraid that we might actually lose her. 

Heavily pregnant but seriously ill, we were torn between giving Polly drugs that could save her but may potentially harm the kids.  It was a tough call but one that we had to make.  With only a couple of weeks left until her due date, we had to hope that the little ones were strong enough to cope with the powerful drugs that we had to use.

Hopefully, we have managed to pull her back in the nick of time as she has started to show signs of recovery and was eating and drinking well this morning.  She had been sharing a pen with Valerie (she of the exceedingly dodgy leg), but this morning Polly decided that she would prefer to have a house of her own and started to try and get Valerie to move by nibbling her ears.

As David and I watched Polly, we both came to the conclusion that she was acting like she might be going into labour.  But she was not due until 4th March.  But, to keep her happy, we moved Valerie to another place and left Polly on her own - just in case.

Less than an hour later we had this:

Yes indeed ... the first two babies of 2013.  Polly delivered two beautiful little girls and they seem to be absolutely fine, despite their early arrival! 

As the weather was bitterly cold today, David decided that the little premature babies needed to have a shelter and so he set up a nice wooden crate for them, full of straw:

Polly seems to be doing pretty well, despite being so ill and has been very attentive to her babies.  She has a little milk which they have gulped down but by tonight she was empty and so we had to top them up a bit with some emergency colostrum that we had in the freezer. 

She also looked a bit tired and cold this afternoon and so she is now wearing one of my old fleeces with the arms cut out.  We have used it before for poorly goats and it works really well.  Keeps them nice and warm and stays on, even when they move around.  Works a treat!

And just to give you some idea of how tiddly these new babies are ... here's David cuddling one of them ..

So there we go ... kidding 2013 has officially begun!  Only 292 more babies to go ...

Wednesday 20 February 2013

A moving day

With so many babies due this year, we need to create as much space as possible in the main barn in preparation for kidding.  So, today we decided to move the remaining little meat boys down to the same barn as the little female kids.  Fortunately, Jane the Cheese's daughter Kelly is on half-term this week and so she volunteered to come and help.  An extra pair of hands is always useful when moving little goaties around.

As the little chaps are getting pretty handy with their horns now, we need to keep them separate from the girls otherwise it will be bedlam at feeding time!  So, we set up a large pen and moved the girlies out of the way of the back gate so that we could unload the little chaps from the trailer and bring them straight in.  Needless to say, this caused much excitement:

Next, David had to install a new water bowl for the little men.  Again, much excitement for the girls as there was now something the other side of the fence.  And, as we all know, things are much more interesting when they are the wrong side of the fence.

Having sorted all that out it was time to go and fetch the little chaps.

Only took us two trips to bring everyone down and then it was play time as they investigated their new house:

And the girls were very interested to see who had moved in next door.  Especially as they had extra hay racks which were just about in reach if you stood on tippy-toes and stretched through the fence:

It has to be said that the boys didn't seem at all interested in the girls!!  Typical nosey females ..

Back at the ranch, Frederick was out enjoying the new straw:

Accompanied by the youngest calf.  How pretty is that little face?

Meanwhile, Willow was stretched out by the gate enjoying the warmth of the sunshine:

She was resting her head on the gate and didn't look comfy at all but she was obviously quite happy in that position!

A successful day all round.  Hopefully all the little chaps will be happily snuggled up in their new house tonight ready for another exciting day tomorrow!

Monday 18 February 2013

It's summer!

What a glorious sunny day!  Blue sky and lots of sunshine.  Must be summer ...

Perfect car-washing weather ... Having spent most of yesterday afternoon hoovering and washing my little van in preparation for the MOT today, I spent another few hours cleaning David's truck this afternoon so that I can give it back to him relatively clean and tidy.  You know what men are like about their vehicles ... And the good news is that my van is MOT'd and back on the road.  Hurrah!!! Much as I enjoy driving the truck, my little van is much more practical and I can whizz around in it for a fraction of the fuel.

Some of the goaties were out enjoying the sunshine this morning and the little boys were all piled up together trying to get the warmest spot:

One of them was obviously in disguise for some reason, wearing a mountain of hay on his head:

Not sure what that was about but he seemed quite happy!

But we have a sad goat at the moment - young Valerie goatling:

Followers of our blog may remember Valerie from last year.  She damaged one of her front legs and Peter our vet thought she may have dislocated it.  I took her in to the surgery to have it x-rayed but nothing strange was found.  However, it never went back to normal and she has always had a slightly odd front leg, though it doesn't seem to hurt.  She tends not to use it very much but hops around on the other 3 legs and uses that as a spare one. 

However, over the weekend, I think she must have knocked her bad leg as she was really struggling to move around and kept on sitting down all the time.  She was reluctant to let me feel her leg and seemed to be very unhappy.  We gave her some painkillers and moved her into a little pen on her own to give her more space.  Peter has checked her out this morning and thinks that she has damaged the elbow somehow as it is quite hot and swollen.  So, more painkillers, lots of rest and piles of treats and TLC!

We have made her a pen right next to the other goatlings so that she can see them (after all, she has 2 sisters in there) but she has her own hay, food and water without having to struggle.  Goats are not very tolerant of weak or sick animals and so she would get pushed around by the others if we left her in the main area.  Also, as she only has a couple of weeks left until she has her kids, she needs to have as much chance of recovery as possible. I suspect that she may stay in her own little pen until after she has kidded but we will see how she gets on.

She seems much more comfortable now and was happily stuffing her hay when I last saw her! 

Thursday 14 February 2013

The paddy fields of North Kent

We're thinking of going into rice ..  What do you reckon?

Remember that lovely field that was resown with new grass seed for the goaties?  Mmm ... see picture above.  Looks like a serious case of grass failure to me.  So wet that the seed didn't germinate.  What little did germinate was eaten by slugs (again - because of the weather) and what escaped the slugs is now under water.  I will be very surprised if it comes through now.  But you never know - keep those fingers crossed for a good spring to get it all going otherwise it is several hundred pounds and a lot of work down the drain.  But that's farming!

As I went out on my early morning deliveries this morning the fog was so thick I couldn't see the side of the road.  Then the rain came down in torrents.  Only those silly humans that have to go out in it though .. all the goaties stayed firmly indoors and there was a lot of lying around going on this morning again.  Big fat girlies everywhere ..

And others were just fast asleep ...

Celia with her big sister Roz


Grace and Blossom
And I have just noticed that our little blog has just reached 37,000 page views since we started!  Amazing!!!  Thank you all, dear readers!

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Another mucky day

It's been another one of those mucking out days today.  This time it was the turn of the little girls.  Partly because we are going to move the remaining little meat boys down to their barn to make room in the main barn ready for kidding (and all those new babies!), but also because a couple of the more nimble little goaties have decided that they can now leap over the fence.  So, it was time to muck out, change things round a bit and get the level of that fence higher!

When I was there yesterday, one of the local foxes came to visit ... They live just across the field and don't seem to bother the goats at all.  Fingers crossed, they haven't yet anyway!  I just hope that the babies are a bit too big for them, too many in number for a single fox to take on, and way too feisty to let a fox in at all!

Just managed to snap him/her as he/she was trotting past ..

So this morning, the first job was to get all the little girls to the back of the barn and pen them off out of the way:

Then take part of the fence down so that David could get the tractor in:

Spend a few hours transporting huge piles of straw and poo .... closely watched by all those little people:

And, of course, when you move their feeder, it becomes something completely different.  Not the old feeder at all!  No ... a totally new feeder that they have never seen before and have to jump on.  Objects are always far more exciting when they move ...

Then finally, all that lovely new straw is spread everywhere, the gates come down and everyone can go skipping back into the barn.  Bottoms up and heads down - all trying to find those nice yummy bits to eat!

And the final thought for the day .... according to our mating records and scanning results, noone should be giving birth until 26th Feb.  However ..... bearing in mind that we did not see all the goatlings mated to Daramac, and the scanning is not completely accurate (though Michael is generally spot on) .. it is possible that we could see babies before then.  We are keeping a very close eye on those goatlings as the very earliest day that anyone could possibly be due is ... tomorrow!!!!

Sunday 10 February 2013

All back to normal

So the students have gone and all is quiet again in the goat shed.  Not that they were noisy, you understand.  But the goatie girls were very wary last week of humans being around all day and 'doing things' to them.  Over the weekend they have settled down again and reverted to their usual lazy routine of eating and sleeping.

The Gracie Moos had a treat last week as a new boy arrived to keep them company for a while.  A posh old boy, known affectionately as Frederick, is spending a few months with us to bring a bit of romance into the cattle yard.  He is a very quiet and gentle fellow who seems very happy to be with us.  Hayley managed to snap a great picture of him last week - it's not only the male goats who turn up their top lips at the girls!

Whilst the students were here, we also did a bit of 'routine maintenance' on the Gracie Moos - here's one of them in the crush waiting for her turn:

Unfortunately for the two little male calves, this week also saw a visit from our vet Peter who came to castrate them.  Both the students were really interested to watch the procedure and Peter, as always, was brilliant at explaining what he was doing.  However, he also tested their knowledge and they both felt like they were having an exam as he asked them lots of questions!

Those little female kids are all growing up quickly now - another couple of weeks and we won't be able to call them 'the babies' any more as there will be even more tiny people around.  I am still trying to learn all their names!  Those who have distinguishing features are always the easiest to learn as you can spot them quickly.  Take little Dionne for example ..  As well as being quite small, with a freckled face, she is also easy to spot from behind as she seems to have developed a little 'skirt' which sticks out either side.  Fantastic!

Of course, there is one goat that everybody knows.  Footsie.  Always up on the gate, posing for photos.  A great favourite with every visitor to the goat shed!

Thursday 7 February 2013

The first students of the year

The first two students of the year arrived on Monday and we have been busy doing goatie things all week - hence, no time for blogging!

Zoe worked with us a couple of years ago and was pleased to meet some of her old friends again this week.  She has lovely hair which proved to be very popular with the babies..

I think she may have a few bald patches by the time she goes home tomorrow!

She is joined this week by Hayley who is a vet student from the University of Gent in Belgium.  She seems very taken with all the goats and is enjoying her week with us (I think!).

We spent some time yesterday foot-trimming and one of the little boys decided that he would have his pedicure lying down:

In fact he was so relaxed, he fell asleep on Zoe's lap!

We mark all those who have been done with a red spray marker.  This little chap was such a good boy that the students decided he should have a smiley face rather than the usual red dot..

I am also pleased to report that the girls obeyed the rule about bringing cake with them.  Hayley brought us some delicious Belgian biscuits but David was particularly thrilled with the Dutch ones.  I have to say that I have never seen such enormous biscuits!  We didn't need to eat for the rest of the day.

And finally - we managed to get a quick video of the showjumping Shares letting herself into the queue for the milking parlour.  Here she comes!