Wednesday 27 November 2013

Arrivals and departures

A hectic week indeed!  A week of ups and downs, both human and animal.

The humans have not had such a good week.  Our 'dairy fairy' Julie slipped and fell on her (already dodgy) knee on Friday and has managed to tear a ligament.  Sounds horribly painful and she assured me that her knee was the size of a football and purple!  Lots of 'leg up' rest for Julie then .. so it looks like I have to do all my own cheesemaking and packing for a couple of weeks.  I think she is just breaking me in gently for when she goes away to New Zealand for 5 weeks over Xmas!

And then our dear goatie colleague Mary from Margate ended up in hospital with a heart attack over the weekend.  But as she called me on her mobile at 6am Sunday morning, it seemed that she was very much in control and directing operations from her hospital bed!  Get well soon Mary!

Over in the goat shed we had to bid a fond farewell to our beautiful old Daphne as she went rapidly downhill on Monday afternoon.  I like to think that she is now up there in goatie heaven keeping my beloved Fremlin company!

 But the good news for this week is that we now have two brand new calves.  Little bull calf arrived quite late last night and a heifer calf arrived just after milking this morning.  Here she is with mum - just born!


 We haven't managed to get a picture of the little chap yet as new mum is still getting to grips with him and is very nervous of people fiddling with her baby.  She is gradually getting the hang of him though and he will be a lovely strong boy.

That leaves just two ladies in waiting .. check out the size of the oldest Gracie Moo.  Makes Footsie seem exceedingly slim in comparison!

Thursday 21 November 2013

Out on parole!

Young Husky goat has been in prison again for a few days this week to avoid any 'accidents' with those boys.  She wasn't impressed at her new house but the high fences did the trick and kept her safe and sound and out of mischief!

She was released on parole for good behaviour last night and came in to help us with milking.  But she was so tired that she was falling asleep standing up.  Kind David lifted her onto his lap and she promptly dozed off .. looks like David did as well!

It's been a bit of a lazy week all round really as the weather has been quite cold and wet, so all the goaties have stayed indoors.  The hayracks have been very popular this week ...

The most coveted spot in the barn is right under the hayrack where a goatie can snuggle down into the comfy straw and be able to eat without having to move (or even stand up!).  Tuesday had Cecily hiding under one rack:

And Valerie and her little Humphrey settled under the other:

 Meanwhile, the Gracies were happily standing around in the wind and rain ..

We are keeping a very close eye on them at the moment as calves are due any day now!
And finally .. this is what happens when it goes quiet at the end of a farmers' market ...

 Vegetable carvings, courtesy of Galileo Farm!

Monday 18 November 2013

The end of an era

No, not Flora.  Actually, dear old Flora is doing pretty well.  We spent a very cold and restless night together on Friday and I managed to get a couple of hours sleep despite the discomfort and the occasional rat running over my legs.  (I can hear you squealing at the back there!).  The ratties are actually quite entertaining .. they run over the goats' backs and sometimes just sit on top of them.  Goaties don't mind in the slightest!  I am not particularly bothered by rats as I find them quite fascinating but they do make me jump when they land on my legs after jumping off the wall ...

No, the end of an era concerns my beloved Fremlin goat.  David called me on the way to Sunday market to say that Fremlin had suddenly become very poorly and that he was very worried about him.  I kept getting updates throughout the day but it didn't sound good ... I drove back home as quickly as I could but the traffic was a nightmare and it seemed to take forever to get back.

As I pulled into the farm, the barn was in darkness and David had obviously just gone indoors for a well-earned cup of tea before milking.  Grabbing my torch, I jumped out of the van and ran over to the boys to find Fremlin lying slumped in his pen with Daramac and Max keeping him company.  As I cradled that big handsome head of his, he let out his last breath and then he was gone.  I just made it home in time ...

But we musn't be too sad as the end came quickly and he went with a smile on his face.  Against all the odds, his dodgy old legs kept going and he had been a busy boy with the ladies over the past few weeks.  Hopefully he will leave us some more lovely kids and, fingers crossed, that there will be a nice male amongst them who can take his place.

Farewell, my handsome boy!

Just born - with mum Ellie & little brother Huffkin

The young buck - at 5 months old
His moment of glory - June 2008
The older man - 2012

Friday 15 November 2013

A story of old goats

As you may remember from earlier blogs about Betty and Wilma, some of our goatie girls are getting on in years now and are starting to suffer a little with 'old lady' ailments.  BTW .. Betty and Wilma are just taking life very easy now and are fighting fit and looking great at the moment!

Sadly, the same cannot be said for dear old Daphne goat.  She has not been quite up to scratch for a couple of weeks and has been a little chesty from time to time but she always trotted into the parlour at feeding time and scoffed her meals quite happily.  But yesterday morning was a different story.  She had to be coaxed in and would not even sniff at a nice apple .. that's serious.  She was all fluffed up, struggling to breathe and had quite a bad cough.  She looked utterly miserable.  So, I gave her a good dose of medicine and spoke with our lovely vet Peter who promised to call in later that afternoon.

As is customary on these occasions, by the time Peter arrived, Daphne was in fine spirits and happily stuck her head into a bowl of food as Peter was trying to examine her.  It always makes me recall a famous Monty Python sketch where an old man shouts "I'm not dead yet!!" ...

But the prognosis is not good ... Peter handed me his stethoscope and invited me to listen to Daphne's heart. First the left side ... then the right side.  Thinking that I had put the stethoscope in the wrong place, I said to Peter that I couldn't hear her heart on the left hand side.  'Mmmm yes' said Peter.  But I could hear it beating (very rapidly) on the right side.  'Mmmm yes' said Peter again .... So her heart is on the wrong side! Mmmm yes ..... And that usually indicates that a mass of some kind is pushing the heart over to the other side .. that's why I couldn't hear anything on the left.  Almost certainly a huge tumour of some description.

So, it doesn't look good for poor old Daphne.  There is nothing we can do apart from give her lots of cuddles and treats.  As soon as she starts to feel poorly again, then we will have to take that heartbreaking final decision and let her go.  We have no idea when that might be .. could be days, could be weeks.

This was Daphne this morning ... filling her face at breakfast time!

And tonight my beloved Flora is not at all well.  We are not allowed to have favourites .. but I love Flora dearly and it will be a very black day when she finally goes to that big goatshed in the sky.  She is almost 10 years old now so it is inevitable that day will not be too far away.  But I still hope that she may live forever!!!

As the temperature plunges rapidly towards zero tonight and I have just passed the first gritting lorry of the season, I am destined to spend the night in the barn with my Flora.  Plenty of thermals and a nice warm hat methinks! Although Flora is quite a large girlie and so I should be nice and warm snuggled up next to her.

So if I look a bit jaded at Wimbledon market tomorrow, you will have to forgive me!

Thursday 14 November 2013

Makeup on - let's go party!

Our lovely goatie helper Anita was hard at work trimming feet again yesterday.  She has been busy with the milkers for some time and managed to get the final girlies through their pedicures just before milking.  As is traditional, girls are marked up with red spray - sometimes a dot, sometimes a heart, sometimes a flower.  Largely depends what kind of mood Anita is in and whether the goaties will stand still enough to have a work of art emblazoned on their rump!

But whatever the design, it never fails to be attractive to all the other goats.  They all have to come over and have a sniff at the red mark, just in case they might miss out on something that could possibly be edible.

And the result is always entertaining ... numerous goats with red noses, red eyes and red lips ... Here's a few of the best from yesterday - all a bit Barbara Cartland I feel ...

A smiling Shares

Naughty Figgie

And a rather understated collection of 'slightly pink' ...

Husky was keen to help with the milking again this morning ...

She is due in season again this weekend and her pen is already built and waiting for the first sign of that little waggy tail!

But in all this cold and damp weather, Marmite has figured out that the best place is the cushion underneath the bathroom radiator ..

I'm definitely coming back as a cat in my next life.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Goatie snacks

Husky was doing her 'sad face' at the rain again this morning so I set up her own little hayrack in the naughty corner of the milking parlour with lots of lovely fresh hay.  It seemed to do the trick and keep her occupied and happy for a while.

As usual, we had the usual array of naughty goats coming in for seconds.  Not sure you have met Smiley before .. here she is:
Her real name is Takira but she has such a tiny smiley little mouth that she got stuck with her nickname!
And Humphrey brought mum Valerie in with him for a snack tonight. 

And, whilst we're on the subject of animals eating ...

Only a few weeks until calving so the Gracies are busy stocking up on grass.  After all, you never know when it might snow and all that lovely green stuff will just disappear!

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Mud and rain. And plenty of waggy tails!

Lovely weather.  For ducks ... Or mud wrestlers.  Still, not too much damage to anything (as yet!).  Just up to our eyeballs in mud across the farm yard!

Young Husky stood at the parlour door this morning just staring at the sea of mud outside, watching the rain come down:

And as soon as everyone has been milked, she runs back into the barn and bags herself the most popular comfy spot right under the hay rack:

Meanwhile, it's time for seasonal musical chairs again!
The goatlings have been moved into the main barn to leave the cattle yard empty in case we need to move the Gracie Moos indoors quickly.  They are due to calve within the next few weeks and there is also the possibility that the weather could turn bad very suddenly and we don't want to have young calves struggling out in the field if we can possibly avoid it.


You may notice in the picture above that there is a large black male goat in the same area as the goatlings.  This is our lovely Beamish goat.  So what of Hugo with the big ears??  Well, after being with the goatlings for several weeks, we are not convinced that he is doing his job quite properly as there still seems to be an awful lot of goatlings with waggy tails.  We have also put a number of milkers with Hugo and, so far, every single one has returned into season.

It can sometimes happen that the stress of moving house (however lovely the new house may be!) can play havoc with a chap's hormones ... We have seen it happen before when we took on a rather older male goat several years ago.  So, we have moved Hugo out for a rest and put Beamish in to get the job done quickly.  And he is absolutely loving it!  Hopefully, Hugo will be ready to go again next season after a good rest.

Max is also set up with a group of lovely ladies:

Whilst Daramac and Fremlin are keeping Hugo company in their new winter quarters in the front of the hay barn:

 But don't worry - they are not missing out on the fun!  Daramac has already had his share of young lovelies and our dear old Fremlin had a couple of well-chosen ladies a few weeks ago.  I still have a few more of the older girls lined up for him when they are ready.  Looks like there is life in the old boy yet!