Friday 30 August 2013

Checking for trolls

Remember the story about the Three Billy Goats Gruff?  A story told to all little goatie kids by their mums.  And all goaties remember this story and are very wary of trolls.

Trolls are invisible to those silly humans who just don't appreciate how they can lurk around corners just waiting for some poor unsuspecting goatie to walk past.

Take a field, for example.  To a human, it looks like a lovely open green field full of lush grass.  After morning milking, the gate is wide open - just tempting those goatie girls to trot out into the pasture.

But you can't be too careful ... who knows what dangers are hidden around the corner?

So, everyone has to stand at the entrance to the field and stare ... and point their goatie ears ... and check that everything is safe to go out again.  After all, who knows what may have happened out there during the night when the goaties were all safe and snug in their barn ...

Eventually, someone is brave enough to venture out and then everyone else knows that it is safe to follow:

And who is this brave little goatie leading all the others out to graze?  None other than our little Husky ..

Sunday 25 August 2013

Wilma goes blackberry picking

Regular followers of our little blog will be pleased to know that our dear old Wilma goat has been feeling much better lately.  On her evening stroll outside the barn tonight she headed straight for the blackberry bushes and happily munched her way along the hedge:

 It's so nice to see her enjoying her food again, even though it does take her a little bit longer to chew it all up.  As she seems to have got a bit bored with bananas, I am feeding her apples and fresh runner beans as a treat.  Lucky old Wilma goat!

Saturday 24 August 2013

Carnival in the rain

Bank Holiday Saturday.  Torrential downpours.  Carnival weekend.  A heady mix for my first Notting Hill market today.  But, I managed to find my way there without any problem and was delighted to see a couple of familiar faces behind stalls.  And I was absolutely thrilled to have 3 of my regular customers from other markets also come to visit.  They are such a loyal bunch .. I love them all!!

Hopefully it should be a great market for Ellie's Dairy and, considering everything that was against us today, we did pretty well.

I must admit to being a bit of a tourist on the way home though ... Many years ago, when I had a 'proper job', I used to work in a rather posh office in St James's Square (just behind Piccadilly Circus)

and, as my route took me back through Kensington and down Piccadilly, I took the opportunity to pay a short visit to my old stamping ground.  Despite the crowds in Piccadilly, St James's Square was empty (as I had hoped) and I found a parking space with no problem at all. 

I did have a chuckle though as I parked my overloaded and slightly grubby little white van between a rather smart Bentley and a very shiny new Range Rover.  Chuckle chuckle ...

And off to Fortnum and Mason I went!  In search of a little something for David who is rather partial to a nice bit of cheesecake.  And, I was not disappointed ... the F&M patisserie is a joy to behold and I trotted back to the Square clutching my fancy little cake box.  Went down a treat at milking time!

As it has been a rather damp day, the goats were bored and so milking time was the usual round of naughtiness and mischief.  Polly, Bunty and Blossom jumped down as soon as they had been milked and headed straight for the feed barrow:

Whilst Florence took advantage of the empty stalls next to her and decided to check if there was any food left next door:

Having had a little sit on David's knee (I told you that she was getting too big for this!):
Husky had her usual drink of water straight out of the tap:
And now they are all curled up in their nice warm barn munching on lovely fresh hay whilst listening to the rain pour down outside in the darkness.  Not a bad life is it?!

Monday 19 August 2013

GeeGee Parrot goes to market

So there I was, minding my own business at Parson's Green market yesterday when my lovely Sal turned up.  As I was in the middle of serving a customer, I smiled sweetly at her and completely failed to notice the rather large blue bag that she had placed next to my stall.

Once the customer had left and we had exchanged our customary hug, she grinned and looked down at the blue bag.  As I followed her eyes, I was amazed to see a rather lovely beady eye staring up at me.  GeeGee Parrot had come to visit!!

She had hopped into her travelling cage, got on the bus and come to Parson's Green just to meet me.  I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to finally meet the little feathered person.  She is just SO handsome ..

She was exceedingly well behaved and proved to be a great hit with the customers who seemed to take it all in their stride that the goat's cheese stall had a small grey parrot sitting behind it ...

It's been an odd couple of days for strange wildlife .. As I was tiddling around in the kitchen this morning, something caught my eye in the corner.  On closer inspection, it turned out to be a rather unusual present from one of the cats:

Froggie was quickly relocated back into his home near my neighbour's pond.  Poor little chap!

My little stud males are getting ready to go off to their new homes in the West Country sometime later this week.  Ice Man, Maverick, Lincoln, Merlin, Jasper and Isa are all packing their bags in preparation .... when they're not staring at the lovely little female kids in the next pen of course!

It will be sad to see them go but I am certain that they will all have a great time in their new jobs!

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Husky and Ginger's morning routine

As you know, we currently have 2 free range goats .. Ginger and her little apprentice, Husky.  Being goats, they like their routine and this is how their morning begins ...

Open the barn door to find them already up and about:

Then they like to help David get the food ready for all the other goaties.  As you see, he is always very grateful for their assistance:

And then they both trot round into the parlour ... Ginger to the far right and Husky in the middle of the picture:

Same little routine every day!!

Sunday 11 August 2013

Seeing is believing ..

Now here's an interesting picture for you - taken during milking this morning:

Just looks like two goats lying around outside ... But it is interesting for two reasons ..

The goat on the left is Siouxsie.  Remember Siouxsie??  The girlie who had acupuncture on her face to try and get her tongue and jaw working again properly after being so ill ...  How good does she look now?  Both ears up and chewing away without packing the food in her cheek like a hamster.

Siouxsie had been lying in the yard after milking, along with a good number of the other goats.  After a while, the goat on the right walked over to her, rubbed her head against Siouxsie's neck and then settled down very close to her.  She could have lain down next to her sister or one of her many friends but she made a conscious decision to lie down next to Siouxsie.

Not quite believing my eyes, I climbed over the gate and went to check her ear tag number.  Yep ... I was right.  This was Diana, one of Siouxsie's triplet daughters, born in 2011.  She had snuggled up next to her mum.

So why is this so remarkable I hear you ask ...  Well, bear in mind that, as a dairy herd, we use our girls for milk.  This, means that we take the kids away from their mums after a few days and feed them all by hand as the mums come back through the parlour for milking.  So, the kids only have 4 or 5 days with their mothers.  Barely time to get to know them well, you would think.  Yet Diana clearly recognised her own mum Siouxsie more than 2 years later.  I just find it incredible.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Eating cherries in the Naughty Corner

You may remember that David instituted a 'Sin Bin' for those goats who are particularly naughty at milking time.  This pen is also known as the 'Naughty Corner' and now seems to be permanently inhabited by youngsters Lara and Bassey.

They come in for milking with the first or second load of goats, go out down the ramp and then lurk about waiting for the door to open again.  Then they dash back in, open the second door by themselves (chin over the gap in the top and pull!), run back down the ramp in the parlour and dash over to the feed barrow.  David then walks them to the Naughty Corner where they have a drink of water and lie down to watch the rest of the goats come through for milking.

It's all part of the routine now and they both seem perfectly happy in their little corner.  Especially when they get treats at the end of milking!

Tonight we had some cherries for them.  Round things are always a bit tricky to eat but you get the hang of it eventually.  But what to do with that stone in the middle?  Bassey quickly developed the technique of spitting it out, whilst Lara had a go at crunching at it before spitting it out in disgust as well.  Here they are ...

Meanwhile, Mitzy and Marmite cats are in full hunting mode at the moment.  Harvest always brings  all the little creatures out of the fields and they are both taking full advantage of this.  Every day I return home to find at least one small deceased creature somewhere in the house.  Today was no exception as I came back to find not one but two live pygmy shrews tiddling about on my kitchen floor! 

I managed to relocate them back outdoors without M and M seeing me ...

Tuesday 6 August 2013

That was the week that was ...

Whizz bang!  Another week gone!!

The usual array of milk, cheese, deliveries and markets .. but this week I had one of my new markets at Blackheath.  Glorious sunny day and a short hop up the A2 to Blackheath .. it was such a luxury not to have to drive into London!

It was great to see some of the stallholders I already knew.  Made me feel right at home! 

I was positioned between Gary's Fish and Mud Pies (also a Blackheath 'virgin'!).  I know the fish man from West Hampstead where my stall is opposite to his.  I always spend an inordinate amount of time suspiciously eyeing up his live lobsters whilst fighting the urge to go and buy them all and set them free!!

So, it was great to be next to him and be able to chat.  Have to admit that it's not my usual chat-up line .. 'do you mind if I stroke your lobster?'.  And I did learn quite a lot about lobsters on Sunday.  They are absolutely fascinating.  Almost prehistoric or alien to look at.  And did you know that they never die of old age?  They just keep on growing and getting older until they are caught and eaten or  get sick and die. 

Despite the August holidays, the market was nice and busy and I had a lot of interest in our delicious milk and cheese.  And I was thrilled to find raw cow's cream on the Redlays Farm stall.  Wonderful and so thick that you can turn the pot upside down! 

Back in the land of goats, the little boys are getting on well with the big boys and have no problem pushing in at feeding time.  I am always on hand to referee, just in case any of them get out of hand (usually Daramac throwing his considerable weight around!) but they are all pretty well behaved.  Here's young Isa pushing his way in between Beamish and Daramac - you can just about see the little brown bottom sticking up right in the middle of the photo between those two huge beasties!

And yesterday saw the last of the 2012 meat kids go off to the butcher.  Poor little men ...  This was Fissi's brother looking out of the back of the trailer as I prepared to drive off.  

Wilma is doing pretty well on her fruit and banana diet.  She is also starting to eat a little hard feed now and is nibbling away at hay.  Fingers crossed that she will make a good recovery and will be with us for a few more years yet!