Tuesday 30 April 2013

Everybody out!

Well, almost everybody ... There were a few lazy old goats who stayed indoors today but most of the girlies went out for a stroll in the spring sunshine.

The grass is just starting to grow again and those girls are keen to get at it and feel the sun on their backs after that long cold and miserable winter.

However, there isn't enough grass yet to let those big old Gracie Moos out, so they are still in their yard for a couple more weeks.  Not that they object too much - big bales of silage and lots of fresh straw!

And for those of you keen to know how young Mitzy cat is getting along ...

Think that says it all, don't you?!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Footsie has a day out!

Well, it's been an exciting and busy week here at Ellie's Dairy.  On Tuesday, we welcomed a small group of Hadlow Agriculture students for a visit.  They spent some time with the goats and asked plenty of questions and I think that their tutor Julie was seriously considering taking a couple of the babies home with her on the minibus!

The following day was gloriously warm and sunny as I loaded up Footsie and a small selection of cute babies to travel to Hayes (near Heathrow) for the first Rackspace Green Fayre.  Rackspace is a world leader in web hosting and is located in a fabulous office building on a small park very close to Heathrow Airport.  We had been invited to take part in their first 'Green Fayre', along with a number of other London Farmers Market traders, and I had suggested to the organisers that we could take a few goaties along for everyone to see.

This idea was welcomed very enthusiastically and everyone at Rackspace (commonly known as 'The Rackers') were all very excited about meeting some of our girls.  Apparently, they had become something of a star attraction!

We loaded everyone into the trailer and set off nice and early to try and avoid all those irritating roadworks on the M25.  Which we did ... very nicely.  Sailed through them, in fact.  Only to get stuck a couple of junctions later for some kind of breakdown ... So, by the time we got to Rackspace, poor Footsie was hot and bothered and very grumpy. 

As we arrived in the car park, a big cheer went up and lots of people ran over to help us unload.  Barely had I backed the trailer into position when 4 huge buckets of fresh water appeared for Footsie and the babies!  The organisers Laura, Annelie and Matt were so friendly and helpful and so many other people came over and offered to help.

Having got all the goaties settled, I quickly set up our cheese stall and then we all just waited for the Rackers to come out and see us!  It must have been an odd sight looking out of the office window to see a livestock trailer and a bunch of goats on the beautifully manicured front office lawn.


I had put a few bottles of warm milk in a bucket by the trailer and it didn't take long for all those hardened teccies to start feeding babies.  At one stage, there were no babies in the trailer at all - they were all being cuddled by Rackers!

The goaties seemed very popular indeed and everyone was thrilled to be able to touch and feed them.  There were many photos taken and apparently we were all up on Facebook within minutes!

Footsie gradually recovered from her journey and was soon standing up on the fence asking everyone for bananas.

The weather stayed fine and warm all day but soon it was time to pack everything up and get back on that M25.  The journey home was slow but not too traumatic and Footsie was very glad to get home!  She and the babies were all exhausted after their exciting day and were all soon fast asleep in their barn.

I hope that the Rackers enjoyed their goatie day as much as we all did.  Hopefully, the Green Fayre will become an annual event and maybe we will be invited back again next year if we didn't make too much mess on the front lawn!!

Monday 22 April 2013

Old Fremlin goat

Regular readers will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for my dear old Fremlin goat:

As 'head boy' he is well respected and loved by all the other boys and girls.  He is such a sweet boy and so good natured. 

Those of you who have been following us for a while may remember that Fremlin had problems with wonky back legs some time ago.  We gave him a course of acupuncture treatments which seemed to do the trick and he was able to work again for a full season without any problem.  Last year he was an extremely busy boy and was like a new man - he had a twinkle in his eye and had a wonderful time with all those lovely ladies who required his services.

But now his age and the last hard year of work have started to show and poor old Fremlin is starting to have problems with his back legs again.  Much worse than before and so I don't think that acupuncture will help at all this time.  At the moment he is still quite chirpy and happy, though he isn't moving around too much and tends to stay over one side of the barn.

I fear that we may soon have to say our goodbyes to my beautiful boy but we will just wait and watch for the moment and let him enjoy some time in the warm sunshine before we have to make that final decision.  I cannot tell you how desperately awful that will be - I am dreading the day, but we owe it to Fremlin to make sure that he does not suffer or is unhappy.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

The latest arrivals

Well. it's been a busy couple of days again on the kidding front.  We are most of the way through now but still have a number of the older girls still to kid.  The past couple of days has seen Wendie with triplets:

Pebbles with triplets:

Saffron with twins .. One of which is a female and our very first girl out of 7 year old Saffron!

And Oopsie with her twins. 

 So that enormous udder has finally been put to work!  It was quite entertaining trying to get the little people to feed for the first time as they were searching in completely the wrong place.  I tried to explain that mum was rather large and that her teats were near the ground ... Eventually I lay them down and they found them quite easily then! 

She was still bursting at the seams though so we milked her out last night.  Lots of lovely colostrum to go in the freezer ready for needy babies.  Almost 8 litres of it!  I think she feels a lot more comfortable now!!

And here's some of our little people for you ... Young Nina's daughter - how cute is this little face?!

And - remember those two very poorly babies who spent a week in the caravan keeping warm in that bitterly cold weather?  Well, here they are:

Bright and perky and doing very well indeed. 

Here's one of those triplets of Pebbles ... her tiniest little man (of 3!):

Valerie and her chaps are still wandering around in the barn.  One of them decided it would be fun to climb all over mum this afternoon:

And by this evening, all we could see of Valerie was her little head poking out from the hay which had fallen down around her.  She seemed very content just to lie there with an endless supply of food!

Monday 15 April 2013

Spring has finally sprung

At last!  Nice warm spring weather.  Babies were curled up in the sun catching a few rays:

A few were curled up all snuggly with their friends:

Even dear old Fremlin was enjoying a lie down and a little attention from one of the girls:

Meanwhile, poor Oopsie just couldn't get comfortable at all.  No surprise when you have an udder this big!

Poor girlie.  Only a couple of days to go, we hope, and then she will have little people to keep that udder under cotrol.

Monday 8 April 2013

Students and birthdays

Well, the students continue to come and go.  Last week we had the pleasure of the company of a returning work experience student, Beth, who worked with us for a week last summer. 

She has managed to secure herself a place at Bristol Uni to study veterinary medecine and will be starting there in October.  Obviously she has to get good grades in her exams but as she is a clever stick, I very much doubt that will be a problem!

She was busy helping with babies all week and was hoping to be present for a birth but as things have quietened down a bit at the moment, she didn't manage to see one.  Persi almost obliged on Friday and Beth hung around for a few hours just in case.  Needless to say, Persi waited until she had gone home and then produced a bouncing baby boy!

This week it is the turn of Lizzie, another work experience student hoping to become a vet:

and our lovely Jo, who just can't stay away!

She is currently working at our veterinary practice for a couple of weeks doing some clinical work experience as part of her degree but is also helping out with milking and feeding babies when she comes home in the evening.

And what of the goaties?  Well, last week was cold and snowy and horrible and the days were mostly spent lying around in the barn.  However, in the blizzard that arrived mid-week, quite a number of the girls were to be seen wandering around the field completely oblivious to the hideous weather.

Unsurprisingly, there were many more outside in the sunshine today!

And the older babies were all lying around in their house, catching some sunshine as well:

Valerie was in a comfy spot with her little men (there's a surprise):

But they decided to have a bit of a skip around outside to see what David was up to with the tractor.  And they decided that it was far more fun climbing around out there than it was lying in the barn with mum!

The girls are producing vast amounts of milk and we are very busy making cheese as well as sending tanker loads of lovely goatie milk off to Jane the Cheese.  David and I continue to be amazed at the amount of milk - we have never had so much!  I just had to take a picture a couple of days ago as the bulk tank was virtually full!

That's around 1200 litres in there .. And this morning as we pumped it into our tanker, we saw the milk virtually fill it:


And, at some point last week, it was also my birthday, although it largely passed without ceremony.  However, I did receive a rather nice cake or two:

And I have decided that it's finally time to start lying about my age as  I have rather a significant birthday next year. Henceforth, I shall always be 'mid 40s'  !!

Monday 1 April 2013

Goatie HQ

Forgot to tell you that I have upgraded my goat trailer!  Here's the current goat HQ:

Fab eh?!  Not as large or as plush as Jane the Cheese's caravan but it is warm and cosy and all mine!  So I can have as many goats in there as I want ...

At the moment only two little people in there who are not doing so well ...  They have been in there all day today keeping warm and we have been looking in on them regularly and feeding them nice warm milk to try and get their strength up a bit:

Even though it was very chilly today, many of the big girls went for a stroll around in the field.  I think the brief spell of sunshine encouraged them all to go outside for a breath of fresh air.

But they soon came thundering back indoors when we had a wonderful surprise visit from Francesca!  Needless to say - Footsie was first one to the gate for her banana:

The girls were all very pleased to see their Auntie Fran, especially as she had brought 3 huge bags of bananas with her!

Valerie and her little barn elves were all over the place again as usual today - those little chaps are getting big now:

Right .. I'm back off to my caravan to see what those two little people are up to.  Probably just asleep in their box!