Wednesday 26 June 2013

Another week flies by ..

I was full of good intentions to write you another post last week but the days just seemed to slip away.  My blogging time (as you can see from the time stamps) is usually late at night, after milking and deliveries ... when all the little goaties are in bed asleep.  But last week, there just seemed to be so much to do with deliveries and getting cheese ready for weekend markets, that I just didn't get a chance.

Feeble excuses, I know ..

On Friday we had to say goodbye to our dear Cora goat. 

At 9 years old she was not particularly elderly but had not been looking at her best for several weeks.  Last week she seemed to be having real problems eating and drinking and, even when we separated her off and brought her endless yummy treats, she still could not eat.  It almost seemed like she wanted to eat but was not able to swallow. 

I spent a lot of time with her last week, just sitting with her and talking to her as I suspected that there may be something wrong with her throat that could not be fixed and that we would have to say goodbye.  Seems that we were right - the vet confirmed that it looked like some kind of abscess or tumour in her oesophagus and there was really nothing that could be done. Cradled in David's arms, dear Cora went to the goatshed in the sky.

But everyone else seems to be doing OK at the moment, even though they were a bit grumpy when they were temporarily evicted from their new field.  As the Gracie Moos have now finally gone out for the summer, David has been mucking out the cattle yard and needed to dump the muck at one end of the field.  With everything fenced off, he was able to run back and forth without having to worry about goats getting in the way. 

The girls stood on top of the hill in their old field and watched his every move ...

Valerie's little white man is getting very brave and can often be found well away from mum.  What a brave boy!  Here he is (front of pic) playing with some of the milkers.  Mum is nowhere to be seen!

Husky is also getting more adventurous especially as we have had the big front doors of the barn open in the warm weather.  She is a very good girl and will usually stay in the barn but only until a human appears.  Then she comes running out and follows you around like a small dog. 

The perfect pet goat!

Tuesday 18 June 2013

More about Husky

As I said, Husky spends her day trotting around the barn, pleasing herself how she spends her time.  Today she could be found on top of the hay bales stacked in the barn waiting to be put into hayracks for our hard-working milkers.

Here she is - perched on top.  Looks quite comfy to me!

And for those of you who follow some of the characters in our blog ... here's my little caravan man ...  Looking good!

Monday 17 June 2013

Little goaties

After the tragedy of Saturday night, I thought that we might need to cheer ourselves up with thoughts of other little goaties.

So, first of all, the little wobbly girl from a couple of weeks ago ... Here she is toddling around the barn this evening:

And here she is again, helping Husky check there is nothing left in the feed barrow:

I have decided to call her Wallace (as her mum is called Tweedie) ... Go on, you can work it out ...  Think 'Chicken Run' ...

Not sure that I have introduced you to Husky, now I come to think of it!  Husky is a Ginger goat in the making.  She refuses to stay in her pen and clambers out through the bars, just like Ginger.  Her sister, Wolfie, fortunately does not follow her naughty sister's example. 

She spends most of her day just trotting around the barn, eating hay out of whichever hay rack happens to take her fancy.  And, of course, she is always there to help the humans with anything - she is especially useful when it comes to feeding time.  She is a sweet little goat and, despite her naughtiness, is actually rather well-behaved.  Like a small dog, she just follows you around and trots from shed to shed behind you!

And talking of little goats .... I did a little foot-trimming with some of the goatlings today and decided that Fizzy should be one of my victims.  It did make me chuckle though as she has such tiny little feet.  It was quite back-breaking trying to get down to her level!

I had some food in a bucket to keep them occupied .. look at the size of the bucket compared to little Fizzy .. She is such a tiny person!  Big personality though ..

Saturday 15 June 2013

Tragedy strikes

Life has a way of kicking you in the teeth every so often.  Just when you think you have had a good day, everything turns upside down.

Today was the best ever market at West Hampstead.  Lots of customers spending oodles of lovely cash on our goatie produce.  Came home to find all the goaties enjoying the sunshine in their field and all seemed well with the world. 

Milking was the usual battle of wits with the naughty goats and, as usual, Valerie and her little chaps came in right at the end.  Little chaps jumped into the wheelbarrow and had their dinner.  All seemed well.

But less than 30 minutes later I was holding Valerie's little black boy as he died in my arms.  Something so sudden and so severe that we could do nothing to save him.  Realising that we were about to lose him, we separated Valerie and his brother into a pen of their own and I sat with them, holding her other baby as I watched him slip away.

When you have animals, these things happen from time to time but it never gets any easier.

Au revoir little man ...

Monday 10 June 2013

A simple observation test

Who remembers Shares, our show-jumping goat?  Well ... seems that she hasn't lost her skills.  Take a look at the following photo and see if you can work out what the problem is ..

Seemingly just another picture of goats grazing in the field.  But if you put your specs on and peer at the middle of the photo you can see a white line stretching across from side to side just behind the orange oil drum.  This is the electric fence.  All the goats are on the far side of the electric fence.  Apart from Shares ...

Meanwhile, the cats were hugely busy this afternoon:

In my next life, I'm going to come back as a Mitzy/Marmite cat.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Open Farm Sunday

Once a year, farms all over the country throw open their gates and invite everyone to come along and find out what farming is really about and where their food comes from. 

I was delighted to be invited to join the Glover family in Hartley near Longfield in Kent for their Open Sunday, along with a number of other farmers and food producers.  And what a fantastic day we had!  Plenty of people came along to meet the animals, have tractor and trailer rides, sample lots of wonderful local food and generally enjoy being out in the countryside for the day (despite the chilly wind!).

As well as our usual milk, cheese and meat for sale, I also had our wonderful soap and our our lovely goat cards available - it all makes for a nice display which hopefully catches the eye of people wandering past!

Plenty of pictures of the goatie girls and boys and a little competition to encourage people to 'name that goat'.


I had lots of fabulous suggestions for names for our new little girls and it will be very difficult to decide who should win .. But that's a job for tomorrow!

And finally - Valerie's little white boy is doing OK.  He ran into the parlour with mum and brother tonight and did eat a little of his dinner, so hopefully he is feeling better.  Keep those fingers crossed for the moment ...

Saturday 8 June 2013

Noisy babies

Whilst I was at Balham market today, David was busy cleaning out those babies again.  And tonight we weaned two more pens.  The noise has to be heard to be believed.  They are not impressed with the fact that they no longer have free access to milk.  Just barley and hay and fresh water.  It's rubbish ...  Poor babies.  I have tried to explain to them that they are big and strong and all grown up now.  Only tiny babies have milk .... but they don't listen.  Just fix me with a hard goatie stare and yell at me.  VERY loudly.

Although there was still a cold wind blowing hard all day, the goaties were outside in the field again.  Including our dear Fremlin who enjoyed the sunshine on his old bones:

Talking of getting older and growing up - take a look at how tall those goatlings are these days:

Apart from you-know-who, of course.  Here she is with her friend Cleo:

And tonight Valerie led both her young chaps into the parlour at milking time. 

I have to say that I am a little worried about the white boy though.  He came into the parlour but did not really eat and seemed a bit off colour.  His eyes seemed a little dull and he was definitely not quite right - couldn't put my finger on it exactly, but he just wasn't his normal little self. 

We have separated Valerie and the two boys off into their own area for the night so that we can be sure that he is close to mum to keep warm and feed if he needs to.  I would hate to think that he was poorly and not able to get close to Valerie for comfort.  Fingers crossed that he will be OK in the morning ...

Monday 3 June 2013

Better late than never ...

Good old Kitty! The last babies of the year arrived around lunchtime today - 1 male and 1 female:

Sweet little things they are too.  You forget just how tiny and lovely the newborns are when there are so many all grown up and weaned!

So, barring surprises, that should be it for this year.  Kidding is officially over!  Hurrah!!!!

It was a bit of a 'baby' day actually as our scanning man, Michael, also came to check out the Gracie Moos to see if they were pregnant.  I had him check on a couple of the goats as well, just to make sure that there was nothing lurking inside!

You may remember Michael from our scanning last year ... doing goats is quite civilised:

Scanning cows is much more ... erm ... intrusive ....  And requires some protective clothing!  Here's Michael modelling this season's bovine scanning outfit:

The Gracies are all very well behaved and so it was no problem to get each of them through the gates and into the crush so that Michael could have a look:

And all five of them are in calf.  Well done, old Frederick!  We were wondering if he had done his job as none of us ever saw him in action.  He obviously just didn't like to do anything in public with an audience!  So, that's more calves due from mid-November.

Whilst all this was going on, the goats were out in their field.  But, typical nosey creatures that they are, they all had to come over and see what was going on:

Valerie and her little men are regular visitors to the milking parlour now and this morning, that brave little black chap came right up the ramp and into one of the stalls.  All by himself.  Clever lad!

Saturday 1 June 2013

Big handsome boys

My lovely Fremlin is still going strong and decided that he might like a little trot into the milking parlour this evening.  However, as he was quite late coming in, there was hardly any food left in the wheelbarrow.  To avoid disappointment, we quickly found him a lovely ripe banana ..

What a gorgeous handsome chap!  Fremlin, that is .. not David.

The goaties are still enjoying their new field, despite the rubbish weather.  They tiptoe out across the mud in the yard and then race to the far end of the field where they have discovered something nice along the hedge.

That's Cassie staring at the camera ... Just coming down the ramp from milking and intent on heading out into the field with everyone else.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot ... that little girlie who seemed to have lost control of her front legs a short while ago:

She's doing much better and is up and about.  Although she is feeding herself pretty well on the automatic teats, I still give her a bottle of nice warm goatie milk every morning and evening, just to give her a little extra.  She has come to expect her bottle now and runs to the fence bleating whenever I walk into the barn!