Tuesday 28 January 2014

More change for goatlings

Yesterday, David and Anita moved the fences that have separated the goatlings and milkers.  The goatlings' area has been made smaller and just 9 girlies remain in there now.  They are the ones who are not yet in kid and so one of our handsome chaps was brought round to keep them company.  Daramac had no warning that it was going to be his lucky day and he did seem a little confused at first but it only took him a few seconds to realise that he was back with his own little goatie harem.

The rest of the goatlings are now mixing with the milkers and, so far, there doesn't seem to have been too much fighting, although the goatlings are still tending to stay in the same area that they were in before - just without the fences!

This gaggle of goaties are mosly goatlings ..

And here are some of the Mary goats, still lying around in the corner where they used to live.  Old habits die hard in  the goatshed!

And this morning we managed to get most of the goatlings and Mary's kids all through the parlour.  It took a lot of coaxing and a bit of pushing but they were very brave girls and all came in for breakfast.  The theory is that if we get them used to the parlour now, then it won't be half as stressful for them at kidding time.  I like a nice theory ...

Here are some of the little Mary goats having their brekkie this morning:


Of the girls who are in kid, Persi holds the current prize for fattest goat in the barn.  A title usually held by our beloved Footsie.  Persi (or Dresden Persona, to give her her proper name) looks like she has swallowed a yoga ball ..  And she's only meant to be having twins!

 Meanwhile, Vivien with the twisty face had obviously been enjoying the mineral lick - look at the state of that little goatie nose!

Saturday 25 January 2014

Difficult issues with sacks and buckets

The weather was kind to us today at Notting Hill Farmers Market and, although it didn't seem quite as bustling as usual, trade was steady and I didn't come home with much in my van, apart from the lovely goodies that I always bring home for myself! 

As usual at Notting Hill, I raided the Hurdlebrook stall for raw cow's milk (treat for David!), raw cream and large pots of their deliciously thick fruity yoghurt.  Yum ..

Whilst Galileo had the most wonderful pale blue eggs on offer ..

So, straight back home to sort the youngsters out and then to start milking again.  We were concerned that we might lose power this evening as we had an evil storm hit just as we were about to start.  Thunder, lightning and torrential rain made the lights flicker but fortunately, it was only short-lived and everything carried on working as usual.

And, as usual, we had bad goatie behaviour.  Mora had a few issues with an old feed sack that she found lying on the floor and decided to stick her head in to see if there might be anything tasty lurking right at the bottom.

Don't think she'll do that again in a hurry!!

And then there was a crash from outside as Cilla fell off her perch into the water bucket  ... You may remember that she likes to drink her water by standing on a block by the water buckets:

We're not sure what happened but we think that one of the other goats may have shunted her up the backside and tipped her off her block .. She fell right into the bucket and got absolutely soaking wet.  Poor Cilla!

Young Klaudette is doing really well and now trots into the parlour quite happily with the older milkers.  Here she is enjoying her tea this evening ..

What a good little goatie she is!

Tuesday 21 January 2014

The passing of tiny Mary

Although we tried everything we could to save her, our tiny little surprise goatie slipped away from us at around 1.30am this morning. 

Unfortunately, despite lots of warm milk and cuddles from Auntie Anita all through yesterday, it had become apparent that tiny Mary was struggling.  Mummy Klaudette was very attentive and caring but sadly it was just not enough.

We did everything we could for her and, in a desperate attempt to keep her warm on a cold night, she was tucked up with a hot water bottle and lots of straw in a cosy box:

But there was obviously something very wrong with our tiny girl and she slipped away peacefully in my arms in the early hours of this morning.
We will never know why - perhaps she was born earlier than she should have been.  After all, noone (apart from Klaudette herself) even knew that she was expected.  Sometimes, things are just not meant to be.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Always expect the unexpected ...

It all seemed like a normal Sunday ... David was left milking and doing goatie business whilst Debbie went off to sell yummy goatie goodness to the good people of Parson's Green.  The weather was chilly but dry and many of the girls took advantage of a sunny afternoon and went for a stroll in their field:

Most of the Mary goats also went out into the field for the first time and, judging by the amount of mud plastered upon udders this evening, they all had a jolly good time!

Evening milking time arrived and there was the usual coaxing to try and get reluctant comfy goats to get up and move to the other side of the barn ready for battle.  Strangely, there were 3 little Mary goats all under a hayrack on the far side and they were particularly stubborn about being moved - usually the Zeila herd all move around together.

And then we discovered the reason why they were not wanting to move:

Can you figure it out? Need a closer look?? Maybe another photo might help ...

Ah yes indeed ... a freshly born kid.  Mmm .. But, I hear you cry - kidding is not due to start until March 6th!  Yes indeed ... 

To say that this came as a surprise is something of an understatement!  This young mum is actually one of Mary's kids - not even a year old herself.  A phone call to Mary revealed that one of her male kids may well have still been in with the female kids at a time when it should not have been a problem.  But clearly, there was some goatie naughtiness happening when Mary was not looking!

Fortunately, Claudette is a very well grown youngster and kidding was not a problem for her.  She cleaned the baby up rather well and is, so far, a very attentive mum.  The little one has had a few mouthfuls of milk but I am just about to go back up to the barn and check that she is fed and warm for the night ahead.

So .. this gorgeous little creature is the first female kid of 2014.  I think she will probably be called Mary ..

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Flo meets Flo and Beamish gets a new coat

Visitors are like buses at Ellie's Dairy.  We don't have any for ages and then lots come along together!  Yesterday we welcomed Matt and Becky from Horsham who are going to be milking sheep in the spring and producing bottled raw sheep's milk.  Watch this space for updates on that one!

Today we had a visit from a wonderful young lady called Florence who is aiming to start up her own goat dairy and cheesemaking business in Essex.  She has been working really hard to get lots of experience with goats and cheese and will hopefully be starting with two goats of her own in the very near future. 

She was thrilled to find that one of our goatie ladies has the same name .. here they are together.  The two Florences:

And, of course, no photo shoot would be complete without Humphrey:

Betty always like to keep an eye on things, just in case she might miss something:

But, unlike yesterday, Thelma was not sticking her big goatie nose into the camera.  Too busy being curled up and fast asleep!

Round the corner in the boys' house, there was great excitement (mostly on my part!) when Beamish got a new coat. Now, we are not usually the type of people who put rugs or coats on our animals unless they are really ill but David thought that Beamish might like something cosy in the cold weather.

Poor old Beamish has had a bit of a skin/hair problem for a few years now which nothing seems to solve.  The vets have all drawn a blank and nothing we have tried has ever succeeded in growing Beamish's coat back - he has a virtually bald back and sides and his skin is like a rhino.  The only thing that has had a slight effect has been a wonderful smelling palm oil and hibiscus rub which one of my lovely customers, Catherine, made specially for Beamish.

But as he is now getting older and feeling the cold a little bit more, Beamish has sometimes been seen to shiver even as he snuggles up next to Max.  But proper goat rugs are quite expensive and we didn't want to spend a lot of money on something that may be ripped to pieces by the other boys.

And then David chanced upon a 'calf coat' which looked to be about the right size and a fraction of the price.  So we ordered one up and it arrived yesterday.  It is not a perfect fit but it covers most of Beamish's baldy bits and will hopefully keep him nice and toasty in this cold damp weather.

And doesn't he look smart!  Fortunately, it is the same colour as Beamish and so noone else seems to be bothered about it.  Beamish is perfectly comfy and happy with it - he has not been scratching at it or pulling it about or trying to get it off and so I assume that he is content to wear it.  When I put my hand under it tonight, he felt lovely and warm underneath it and so I hope that he will be glad of his little jacket as the temperature falls.  There was a short outbreak of excitement as Daramac thought a new goat had arrived in the pen but a quick snort and sniff confirmed that it was actually only Beamish with his new coat on!

Tuesday 14 January 2014

And the barriers come down

David has spent the last couple of days mucking out the main barn and, in doing so, has taken down the barriers that separated Mary's goats from our unruly lot.  Poor Mary's goats!  They are doing really well actually as it is pretty stressful for them.  There hasn't been much fighting but they do tend to stick together as a group - safety in numbers I suppose!

You can see them here at the back of this pic - a little huddle of white goaties:

The weather was cold today but beautiful and sunny so we opened up the big front doors to let some sunshine in - a pretty rare thing over the past few weeks!  As the sun moved round, so did the goatlings.  They just stood in a group and basked in the sunshine for a while ..

And as I was trying to get a photo of someone, Thelma decided that she needed to be in the picture ...
Great.  Thanks Thelma!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Inside, outside

More wet and windy weather ... but although we are up to our eyeballs in mud, at least we haven't been flooded out.  We have had a little bit of wind damage but nothing too serious (yet!).

The yard and area round the buildings is a sea of mud ..

And just look at that black sky looming on the horizon this morning!

But, as usual, all the goaties are warm and comfy inside their barn. 

Goatlings ..


Milkers ...
Mary's new girls ... and note the naughty kid in the hayrack!
And even the big chaps were all cosy.  Looks like Beamish and Max have become best friends now since Fremlin died. 

 Persi had bagged herself the best spot in a corner so that she could see everyone and not miss anything that might be happening.

And how about this for a cheeky little face?  Young Nibor ..

And winking to avoid being poked in the eye with a bit of hay as JoJo muscles in on the action

We had the usual array of old/dry goats come in for the parlour party this evening.  Maggie, Wilma and Valerie hit the wheelbarrow ..

Whilst Chickweed sneaked round the side and found a bucket ..

And finally .. look at the size of young Humphrey!  David snapped this on his phone this evening as we were sorting out goaties for milking.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Anyone fancy chicken in a basket?

Happy New Year!! Wild, wet and very windy it is too.  And Jane the Cheese lost one of her chicken huts in the bad weather so all the chickens are having to cohabit at the moment.  Dear old Auntie is not impressed with having to share as she is not much of a people person.  So she was standing out in the rain, getting soaked to the skin and looking generally very miserable.  Poor Auntie.

So, she was brought indoors and put in front of Jane's toasty warm Rayburn to dry off:

And then put to bed in the old wicker log basket:

Looks to me like Jane might have trouble getting Auntie back outside again!  Anyone fancy a house-chicken?!

David had to brave the elements on top of the tractor shed roof as one of the panels came loose in the wind.  Fortunately he managed to secure it back down again before we lost the whole roof.

The goaties are all cosy in their barn but they do have a bit of an indoor swimming pool at one end where the heavy rain is lashing in through the main door.  But their house is big enough that they can move away from the weather and stay cosy. 

Even young Husky has decided to stay in the main pen tonight instead of jumping out into the centre of the barn to be on her own.  I think the water was getting a bit too close to her bed for comfort!  Here she is enjoying her hay rack at milking time.