Tuesday 28 May 2013

Who ate all the pies?

Well, not exactly pies ....but you get the general idea ...

Look familiar?  Mmmm ... Big fat Footsie goat.  And she stuck her tongue out at me ....

And what was the cause of this huge belly?   Remember that paddy field?

Here's what it looked like in the Bank Holiday sunshine ...

Lovely new fresh grass.  And the goaties absolutely loved it! 

I think Footsie must have spent the entire day just chomping her way around the field.  And everyone had huge amounts of milk for us this morning ...  Wonderful!

Whilst the goats were exploring their new field yesterday I was working hard selling cheese at the Three Tuns Produce Fair in Lower Halstow, not far from Sittingbourne.  The Three Tuns is a lovely pub and this is the third year that hosts Chris and Carol have held the food fair.  We have been lucky with the weather every year and it is wonderful to see so many people coming to try all the lovely food on offer.  Chris always does a hog roast and it is testament to his expertise that it ran out after only about an hour and a half!!

I took a slightly different route back to the pub after parking my van and ended up by the village church and the creek.  Beautiful!

It made up for a dismal wet day today which I spent mostly sitting stationary on the M25 in horrendous traffic and pouring rain.

But however dismal the day has been, those goaties always manage to make me smile ...  Valerie and her kids are now regular visitors to the milking parlour and those little chaps head straight for that feed barrow:

Heads down .. bottoms up!

Sunday 26 May 2013

A thing of beauty ...

Little things have always amused me and today was no exception when I found a fallen nest in the barn next to the cheese room.  Fortunately, there was noone at home.  Maybe the owner had got bored with the decor and decided to ditch it in favour of a new model.

It just fascinated me to see how it was woven together.  Bits of twig and moss and colourful threads of baler twine.  All lined with feathers.  Very sturdy and snug and warm. 

Just wanted to share it with you ..

Look at all those lovely warm feathers on the inside - just like a duvet

This was the underside - those colourful bits are single threads of baler twine - always plenty of that about on a farm!

Saturday 25 May 2013

Thermals all round ...

OK - hands up all those who put their heating back on this week or dug out their thermals from under the bed .....  It's almost the end of May and I am back in my thermal t-shirt!  I had put it away at the back of the airing cupboard a few weeks ago but I was driven to haul it out again this week.  Thursday afternoon driving to Faversham in a torrential hailstorm I saw 0 degrees on my van display and the traffic news reported that several roads in Scotland were closed because of heavy snow.  Can you believe it?

At least today was a bit warmer for Wimbledon market and Ellie's Dairy had a good morning there, selling plenty of cheese and our delicious goat meat.  It is lovely to be back at market with a complete range of cheeses!

Our goatlings have apparently settled very well into their new home in Herefordshire.  Although there are still 40 left here (and 7 little meat boys), their barn does seem rather empty.  And quiet.  As our buyers wanted mostly British Toggenburgs and crosses, most of the brown girls have gone.  There are a lot of white and black goats left here now and they are much more well behaved than those thuggish naughty brown things!  And they also seem to eat much less hay ... I think we have sent all the piggy naughty ones off to Herefordshire!

Of course, we still have little Fizzy.  Apart from the fact that she wouldn't be any use to them, she is rather special and I couldn't let her go.  Do you reckon that she's grown at all since our last update??

Things went downhill in the middle of the week as we had to have our beautiful Wendie put to sleep.  She had been suffering with what looked like a respiratory infection for a couple of weeks but was not improving despite medication and was starting to lose weight as she was not eating properly.  I took her into the surgery and, after lengthy examination, Peter said that it would be best to send her to the big  goatshed in the sky.  He was pretty certain that she had developed some kind of tumour which was affecting her whole chest area and he didn't really hold out much hope for her. 
It was the best thing to do for Wendie but it's always so awful to take that decision.  Wendie and I had one last cuddle and I held her in my arms as she drifted away. 
On a lighter note, young Valerie decided that she would like to come into the milking parlour tonight and so her two little men came skipping along with her.  The brave black boy stood and ate his dinner from the trough like a grown up whilst, as you can see, his white brother decided to take advantage of the situation and sneak a quick slurp while mum was occupied!

It is interesting to see that the black one is virtually weaned now - it is very rare that you see him feed off mum.  The white boy still likes to feed, although this is also getting more infrequent as well.  It's nice to know that we are weaning the rest of the babies at the same size as these two are being weaned naturally by mum.

Having eaten his tea, little black man jumped off the platform and headed straight for the feed barrow:

Kitty is still hanging on to her babies and is showing no signs of giving birth just yet.  We are hoping to have the cows scanned in a couple of weeks time so I think we will ask Michael to scan Kitty as well so we can check that everything is normal (and get some idea of when she may be due, as it's obviously not when everyone thought it was going to be!)

And, just in case you think that we spend all our time doing goatie things .... last Sunday we went out for a very nice lunch with our best friends Iain and Linda who were visiting from Somerset.  Yes, I know ... WE WENT OUT FOR LUNCH.  Hard to believe, but there it is.  And very pleasant it was too.

Here's me and her:

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend everyone!

Tuesday 21 May 2013

It's 3am ..

Well, just a little bit after ...  And our lovely goatlings are on their way to their new home.

Everyone was fast asleep as I arrived around 2.15am but they were soon up and about to see what was going on. 

We had already separated the 30 that we needed so that they were at the back of the barn nearest to the gate, all ready to load:

I arrived down there well before everyone else so that I could have a chat with them all and give them all a hug.  Especially little Holly who is such a sweet little goat.  I will miss her the most I think.

To our surprise, they all loaded very easily and were soon all comfy in their huge lorry with lots of straw.  Then we closed the gates and off they went!

It's going to be a long journey for them but they are very lucky girls to have such a wonderful new home waiting for them.  I think they will be thoroughly spoiled!

Bon voyage!

Saturday 18 May 2013

Coming to the end

So, as promised, a pic of Twinkle's babies.  Well, one of them anyway ... the other one refused to stay still long enough to have her photo taken.  This was taken as we arrived home from the vet after disbudding:

Since then, Bassey has had two boys - one black and one brown.  They arrived on Wednesday afternoon:

So that just leaves Kitty now - the last goat to kid this year.  Unless anyone else has any surprises in store for us, that should be it for another year!

Valerie and her little men were lounging around by the hayrack again today.  The white boy was absolutely fast asleep next to mum:

The black one is far more adventurous and he decided that he might like to have a little trot into the milking parlour tonight.  So, here he is, eating his supper with Uncle Fremlin who also decided to come in for some reason!
And, sadly we have a little poorly goat at the moment.  Not quite sure what is wrong with her - she is bright and happy enough but her front legs seem to belong to someone else.  I found her unable to stand up yesterday morning, although she is still eating and drinking quite happily.

As the other kids are very bouncy and kept jumping all over her, we moved her outside her pen.  David made her a nice comfy straw bed and so she has her own bowl of food and pile of hay, right next to her little friends:

She does seem to be a little better today and is trying to move her legs around, so hopefully that's a good sign and she will soon be back to normal.

David spent today trimming feet in the goatlings' house as 30 of them are off to a lovely new home in Herefordshire on Tuesday.  A young couple are expanding their dairy herd and are taking some of our lucky goatlings ready for mating in the autumn. 

They have all been blood tested to make sure that they are clear of any nasty diseases and are all now ready to go.  A farmer friend is transporting them for us in his lorry and is coming to load up at 3am on Tuesday morning.  It's going to be an early start to the day for everyone!

Monday 13 May 2013

Up to her old tricks again

Once upon a time, there was a very naughty goat called Ginger.  She used to wriggle out through the gate and wander around the barn when the humans were not around.  But then she became pregnant and was far too fat to fit through the gate and so, for several months, she had to stay in with all the other goats.

But then Ginger had her babies and regained her waistline.  And as I walked into the barn yesterday morning I was greeted with this:

I can't tell you how thrilled David was ...

And as the weather was so nice last week, we decided to put Valerie and her little men in with the main group of milkers so that they could all go outside and enjoy the sunshine.  As you know, they have been 'free range' in the barn for a couple of months now but were not able to get out into the field.

They seem to have settled in very well and the big girls don't bother the little chaps too much - they are nippy enough to dodge out of the way if an old goat decides to get stroppy!  Here they are in the hay rack:

The black one is much more adventurous and is often found wandering about outside on his own.  His little white brother is much more of a mummy's boy - always to be found right next to Valerie!

Balham market was great on Saturday and I had a nice visit from GeeGee Parrot's mama, Sal.  She brought a HUGE bag of rosemary clippings for the goatie girls,which they all enjoyed in their hayracks yesterday evening.  Wonderful Sal has offered to come and sort my garden/jungle out as well.  So GeeGee will get to meet the goats after all!

I had our yummy goat curd on sale on Saturday and decided to offer something a little different by wrapping it in wild garlic leaves.  I was lucky to find the most delicious fresh leaves on the Brambletye Fruit Farm stall  ....  Very popular they turned out to be too!

Friday 10 May 2013

Twinkle and the aliens

Our very pregnant Twinkle goat decided that she would like to come into the milking parlour for her breakfast yesterday morning.  As she stood eating from the wheelbarrow, we noticed that there seemed to be rather a lot of movement inside ... Those babies looked like they were getting into position to break out!  Watch out for that little foot appearing ...

And we were right.  At around midnight on a cold and very blustery night, Twinkle proudly pushed out two lovely baby girls (pics to follow over the weekend).  They then kept me awake all night squeaking and shouting.  Not much sleep last night ....

Those old Gracie Moos were on form as well, shouting the place down because David was late with their breakfast.  What a racket!

As you can see, they are still out in the cattle yard at the moment whilst we wait for the grass to grow enough to let them out in the field again.  They have been in the yard for 6 months this year - absolutely unheard of!  Hopefully, they will be able to go out within the next couple of weeks.
So, off to Balham tomorrow.  Weather forecast is not too good and it looks like I will be hanging on to my awning in a howling gale again.  Ah well, c'est la vie!

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Showjumping Shares and dear old Flora goat

Shares, our show-jumping goat, gave birth to a strapping little lad on Sunday.

Typically, she is not happy being confined to a pen with her baby and so keeps jumping out for a wander around the barn.  She chortles away to her baby and tries to encourage him to come out with her!  But, as he can't get out, she is forced either to jump back in or to wait until we open the gate for her.  But she is a good mum and is looking after her little chap very well.

And then there was Flora.  Remember Flora?  Our big old girlie who had so much trouble with her legs last year that we decided not to put her in kid again and retire her from milking?  Well .... not long after she had 'retired', a huge abscess formed on her bad leg.  Eventually it burst and we spent several days cleaning and dressing it until it healed.  Strangely enough, once it had all cleared, Flora was like a new goat!  She no longer walked with a limp and was bright and sprightly again.  We think that she must have had something so deep in her leg that it had caused her problems for a couple of years.  Eventually whatever it was had come to the surface and then disappeared!

So, we decided to put her in kid once again as she seemed so much better.  And, indeed, throughout this pregnancy she has been completely mobile and has not struggled at all, despite her rather enormous size.

And yesterday afternoon, right in the middle of a marathon mucking out session when everyone was crowded into one side of the barn, Flora decided to go into labour.  Typical Flora!  Work was suspended and the tractor turned off whilst we moved her out into the hay barn where she had a lot more space and it was much quieter for her.  Shortly afterwards, she had two bouncing baby boys.

And she was up and about straight afterwards. So, in a few days, my lovely old girl will be back in the milking parlour.  Dear old Flora!

Valerie's little man decided that the best place was in the wheelbarrow yesterday:

Whilst one of the little girls had settled herself on the wall at the back of her pen:

Of course, the nice weather over the past few days has meant that the goatie girls have been out and about in their field a lot more.  However, they are enjoying it so much that they don't want to come in for evening milking.  So David decided to try his goat herding skills with Ben doggie. 

As you see, goats are not like sheep.  They tend to run towards the dog rather than away from it as they are curious to find out what it is!

Here's David trying to explain the complexities of herding goats to Ben:

But we got them all in eventually!

Today I took that beautiful little grey girl to the vet to be disbudded.  As she was on her own, I put her in my cat basket and sat her on the front seat of the van:

She was very popular with everyone at the surgery and had a full tour of the practice as everyone wanted a cuddle!

And finally .. hasn't everything suddenly burst into life this week?  Glorious blossom everywhere and the lane is bursting with bluebells.  The scent on a warm day is just heavenly:

Friday 3 May 2013

The latest new arrivals

Just a handful of goats left to kid now.  The latest arrival came into the world on Thursday in the middle of a visit from a group of Hadlow students! 

Marlin had a single beautiful grey girlie:

Such a pretty little thing she is and Marlin is a very proud mum.

A few days ago, Figgie gave us two more little men and they are now being bottle fed as mum has gone back into the herd.  However, this morning they had an unexpected visitor as one of Valerie's little chaps decided to jump into their pen with them.  Here he is, at the back - curled up fast asleep!

Dear old Fremlin was out and about enjoying the sunshine this morning:

And many of the girls were playing around in the back yard after milking, trying to decide whether to go out in the field or not:

See that green field in the background?  That's the paddy field!  Finally starting to go green but there are a lot of patches where the grass has not taken.  David has got some more grass seed and when we have a chance of rain, he will go out and scatter it on the bald bits.  Fingers crossed that it all continues to grow!

So, hopefully the weather will stay nice this weekend as I have markets on both days.  Jane the Cheese has gone off to Melton Mowbray, Land of Pies, for a cheese festival.  She will also be joined by our friends from Winterdale Cheesemakers who recently became the UK's first carbon neutral cheesemakers.

Incidentally, there was a great feature on Radio 4 'You and Yours' today when they interviewed a couple of people about goat meat.  The main contributor was James, the chef who has a large number of our own little men in his barn in Somerset.  I like to think that it was our little chaps that I could hear bleating away in the background!

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend everyone and a Happy Greek Easter to all!