Tuesday 29 October 2013

Ribbons and brown faces

Great excitement in Ellie's Dairy at the end of last week when our beautiful Xmas ribbon arrived!  This has been specially printed for us and will be used on all our Xmas gift boxes and special cheeses.  I know it's very early to be thinking about things like that but we have to get ourselves organised well in advance .. after all, much of the Xmas cheese has already been made!!

So here we are ... lovely stuff!

For those of you interested in such things ... this all came from a very nice man called Bruce Hooper at The Little Printed Ribbon Company in the Isle of Man.  Check out his Facebook page for all the details!
Meanwhile, the goaties have been tucking into their new organic garlic lick outside the milking parlour.

And as you can see, some of us enjoyed it very much!  Here's Daphne with a face full of sticky brown stuff!

The babies have been long overdue for mucking out but David has been waiting for the right weather to get everything out and into the dung heap.  After all that hideous weather of the past few days, today was gloriously sunny and so we decided to get all the babies out of their barn so that we could get a clear run at the place without everyone trying to 'help'.

So, they were all thrown out the back of their barn and spent a happy day munching away at the straw bales in the next barn.

I don't think they stopped eating all day.  And then they came back in to their newly cleaned house and carried on eating the new straw in there!  Heads down, bottoms up.

Our little escaping man was not impressed with his new house though as he can no longer reach up far enough to climb out.  He spent some time wandering along the fence where he used to climb out and, as you see, kept complaining that we had changed it all around and spoilt his fun!

Sunday 27 October 2013

Husky's private suite

Well here we go .. as promised ... young Husky:

David built her a nice pen next to the boys but with the added feature of a 'lid' to stop her jumping out.  Much better than the trailer as she can talk to the chaps in the next pen but without any risk!

She is very happy in there as she gets her own food bowl and hayrack and doesn't have to share them with anyone else.

Hopefully things will have calmed down by tomorrow and she can be let out.  Then we have 3 weeks grace before it all starts up again!

Fingers crossed that the worst of the storm will miss us tonight, although I can hear the wind howling already .. Keep safe!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Back up north

Well, I have to say that it's been a very interesting week!  David allowed me a couple of days off and I travelled up to York to attend the autumn meeting of the Goat Veterinary Society.  I managed to find a good deal on train fares and so decided to really make the most of my time and made the journey by train. 

It's been many years since I travelled any distance by train and I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the experience.  When the trains work in this country they work well.  Ashford to York in just over 3 hours!  Stunning ...  And I got a pile of paperwork done on the train as well.

In the couple of hours I had to spare before being picked up by my goatie colleague Sue, I had a little trot into town and visited the sights.  It's exactly 30 years since I was last in York on a student placement - not exactly a frequent visitor!  But it was as beautiful as I remembered with the Minster dominating the town:


I was particularly intrigued by this notice outside one of the coffee shops ... obviously must be a problem in York!

Our meeting was held at York Racecourse and it was an absolutely beautiful day as you can see:

As always, the meeting was brilliant with lots of excellent speakers.  It's always good to catch up with the vets and large commercial goatkeepers as well.  Where else would I be able to chat to Angus and Kathleen, the owners of the massive St Helen's Farm dairy?!
Whilst I was living it up in York (and had a lie in until 6.30am!!), David had help from our wonderful goatie assistants Mel and Anita.  It seems that young Husky behaved herself very well whilst Goatie Mum Debbie was away.  David took this photo of her lying in the milking parlour in the evening.  Apparently she kept falling asleep and sliding off onto the floor!

However, she is back up to her tricks again tonight as it's that tail-wagging time of the month again!  David has devised an ingenious way of keeping her away from the boys without having to put her in the trailer like last time so I will get a picture in the morning for you ...

Night night everyone!  Don't forget to put those clocks back and enjoy that extra hour in bed tonight ...

Sunday 20 October 2013

Bad habits and lazy goats

Remember our little escaping male kid?

Seems that he has been teaching a couple of the other little goaties how to do the same tricks ...

I blame the parents ..
Meanwhile, David has spent a happy couple of days driving this around the field behind my house, spreading vast amounts of goatie muck around to fertilise the soil ready for ploughing it all in.

It's very difficult to get the goaties out of bed and ready for milking on these dark mornings.  They prefer to have a lie in until it gets light!  When we switch the barn lights on it always makes me smile to see all those lovely comfy goaties all snuggled up next to their sisters or special friends.  But sometimes they are just resting on whoever happened to lie down next to them ... 

Here's Siouxsie absolutely fast asleep, stretched out on one of the much younger goaties early this morning:

Turn your sound up and listen for that little goatie snore!

Wednesday 16 October 2013

What to do on your birthday ...

Happy Birthday David!  21 again ...  and again ...

So, what to do on a birthday?  Well .... Watch the most fantastic sunrise from the milking parlour:

 then sort out all those goaties with waggy tails

Some were sent in to see young Hugo for the day:

Whilst others went off to visit Daramac.

Meanwhile, young Humphrey (Valerie's little white man) seems to have found himself gainful employment.  Although the little chap has been castrated and so doesn't have any of the usual 'assets', he still has some of the right hormones and so is excellent at pointing out girls when they are just about to come into season. 

Most of the girls are quite obvious and vocal at this time of year but you do get the few quiet ones and it is these whom Humphrey is keen to point out.  What a good chap he is!

Then it was time to do a little cattle rustling ... With winter approaching, David wanted to move the cows close to the farm so that we can keep an eye on them at calving time (just over a month away now) whilst last year's calves were to be put into a separate field of their own.

Although the Gracie Moos are generally very placid and cooperative, today they decided that we all needed a little extra exercise and so there was quite some running about to be done before they decided that they would go into the trailer after all!

First of all we moved the cows ... and here they are arriving in their new field:

Then we moved the calves.  You can just about see them in their new field!

It was cold and very very wet.  But after a while, you become oblivious to the rain lashing your face .. it's only when you get back in the car and look in the mirror that realistion dawns ...

Looking gorgeous as ever!!!

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Jekyll & Hyde

It never ceases to amaze me what a difference a few hormones can make!  That stroppy, noisy, pushy, hormonal goatie that was leaping over the highest fences has now changed back into our (relatively) quiet and (sometimes) well-behaved little Husky goat.

Earlier today she could be found lazing around in the barn:

And tonight, she decided that the most comfy spot was in the feed wheelbarrow:

Many of the goaties spent some time ambling around their field in the sunshine but some decided that the new straw looked very tempting and so decided to stay indoors to try it out.  It seemed that it was far more comfy on one side of the barn than the other and so it was a bit crowded over there!

Although Husky has calmed down, there were plenty more hormones in action today and so it was Daramac's turn to entertain some of the ladies.  We set him up in his own house and then let him loose with Mora, Heidi and Meryl.   
Meanwhile, the goatlings were soaking up the autumn sunshine:
And Persi decided that she wanted to be on her own and settled down in a quiet spot outside:

I think we have a couple more days of nice weather forecast so hopefully the girls will be able to enjoy a bit more sunshine before we start with all that horrid wet weather that usually comes before the winter.

Saturday 5 October 2013

A night with Husky

So, yes, I did sleep in the trailer with young Husky goat for most of last night.  I bedded down on the straw and managed to get a few hours nap despite young Madam calling out to the boys and tramping up and down on me for most of the night.  I must admit that my poor old bones did start to get a bit stiff in the early hours and so I retired to the relative comfort of my little caravan outside the barn, leaving Husky and her hormones safely in the trailer.

Today was wonderful West Hampstead market and Ellie's Dairy did a storming trade in all things delicious and goatie.  I just love this time of year with so much wonderful seasonal fruit and veg around the market.  New season apples are just in and they are simply divine - crispy and mouth-wateringly gorgeous!

Talking of colourful and seasonal ... Franklins Farm Shop in East Dulwich had a wonderful display of English tomatoes and peppers outside the other day .. a splash of colour in the midst of the city:

On Wednesday we were excited to have another visit from the lovely Sharon at the new Margate Smokehouse.  Sharon and her husband are busy trying out their new smokehouse on lots of local produce such as cheese, pork, chillis and fish.  A couple of weeks ago, we gave Sharon some samples of all our cheeses for them to try out and this week she returned with the best two for us to taste.

However, as they had only just been smoked and were still quite strong, Sharon recommended that we leave them for a couple of weeks before we taste them.  They smell scrummy!  So, we have a lovely fresh Ellie's Original and a young Shaggy's Beard camembert sitting in our fridge ...

Sharon loves the goaties and arrived with a bag full of bananas.  As you can see, she was hugely popular!

After all, who can resist such a lovely smiley face?

Friday 4 October 2013

Shameless Husky

Once upon a time there was a naughty little goat called Husky:

Husky was able to wriggle through or jump over any obstacle that the silly human people put in her way.  She didn't want to be held in behind gates - she wanted to be free!!  So, she and her Auntie Ginger goat used to live as they wanted in the goatie barn, free to wander around just as they wished.

And then one day, little Husky started to wag her little goatie tail at those big smelly boys:

And, while those humans had their backs turned, one thing led to another, .  And when Goatie Mum Debbie came back into the barn a short while later, she found little Husky goat having a bit of a party with all the boys.  Shameful behaviour from one so young!

And so, little Husky goat had to be given the goatie-morning-after-pill, just in case .... as she was still only a baby herself and far too young to have kids of her own.  The gates on the boys' house were made stronger and higher so that troublesome little grey goaties would not be able to jump over them.

That was 3 weeks ago.  And this morning, young Husky started to wag her little tail at the boys once again.  Confident that the barriers were high enough, the humans smugly watched as young Husky strutted her stuff in front of the admiring chaps.  And then, quick as a flash, she scaled the gates and was in with the boys again!  Not to be outdone, Goatie Grandad Bob (80 years of age and still nimble) shinned over the gate and grabbed young Husky before any of the chaps had time to realise what was going on.

It was clear that no barrier was going to be high enough to keep a stroppy, hormonal and very agile young goatie out of trouble.  But what to do with her?  The only solution ...  The goat trailer was wheeled into the barn and Husky loaded into it for the day.  She had the company of all the other goats around but was not able to get out and into mischief.

I'm just about to go back up there to check that she is OK and possibly spend the night with her in the trailer to keep her company.  I know .. barking mad!  But, despite her size, she is still only a kid and I think she may be a little nervous having to spend the night shut in a trailer ...