Wednesday 26 February 2014

Husky finds a new friend

Since the arrival of the young Mary goats and the goatlings mixing with the milkers, our young Husky has been a lot more settled.  She seems a lot happier to stay in with everyone else now and hardly ever escapes into the barn.  Possibly because she is older and wiser but also I think she is much happier that she has other goaties the same age and size as herself.

But she has always been a bit of a loner.  So, imagine my surprise when I found her snuggled up to one of the goatlings yesterday.  Very cosy together ... Best mates!

Here they are - Husky and her new friend Serena:

Little goats always make me smile.  Just the way they always find pleasure in the simplest things - like a freshly filled hayrack.  Some of our lot have now decided that they can dive below the hayracks to find tasty bits of hay and so we have a kind of 'upstairs-downstairs' situation ..

Whilst I was filling hayracks this afternoon I noticed a small group of little goaties staring at something in the straw at the front of their pen.  On closer investigation I found this ..

A cream coloured male ferret all curled up and fast asleep!  Always a bit wary of ferrets with exceedingly sharp teeth, I picked him up very carefully but he seemed very laid back and didn't try to bite me.

Kelly (daughter of Jane the Cheese) and I put him into a bucket and took him to one of my customers who has quite a few ferrets.  She has taken him in and I think he will be thoroughly spoilt!  I did wonder if he was ill but apparently ferrets can sleep very soundly - hopefully this is the case and he will soon be back to his usual lively self.

Friday 21 February 2014

A glorious day!

What a fantastic day for weather!  Bright blue sky and sunshine all round ..

Some of the bravest goaties went straight out into the field after milking - those little dots in the distance!

Some, like young Serena, decided that it was far too wet and only went as far as the mineral lick ..

Whilst others dithered around outside the back of the barn trying to decide whether it was worth getting their toes muddy ..

As you see, horrendous amounts of mud!  Note the large rubber stable mats that we have laid out all the way along the side of the barn and out into the field to try and make things a little less messy for those goatie girls.

I spent the day driving about with my deliveries in my new van.  Yes, NEW van.  How exciting is that?!

And very lovely and comfy it is too.  And lots more space in the back to fit all that 'stuff' in ..

It's that time of year when goats start to get fat and lazy before kidding.  And some go off their food a little too.   Our sweet little Aretha is refusing to eat anything but hay at the moment.  She is one of David's favourite little goats and so he has been tempting her with fresh fruit and other such yummy things.

So, now, every time she comes into the parlour she gives you a hard stare and waits for the treats to appear.  Here she is, waiting for her evening banana ..

Who could resist such an appealing little face?!

Monday 17 February 2014

Naked at Wimbledon

Haha!!  That made you sit up and take notice!!  What I was actually referring to was our complete lack of awnings at Wimbledon Farmers' Market this Saturday.  Because of the appalling weather, we were all told that markets could only go ahead if we did not erect any awnings.  The 'management' were worried about things taking off in the strong winds and hitting customers. 

So, vans were used as storage and wind-breaks as we all set out our stalls to be as windproof as possible.  Not much of a display for everyone but at least our wonderful and loyal customers still turned up.

It was all going so well ... and the heavens opened and we continued to trade in pouring rain and hailstones.  I have to say that it was a little damp and cold without any protection!

Meanwhile, back at home, Marmite was hard at work avoiding the weather ..

As you may remember, we are not due to start kidding until around 6 March and so it was quite a surprise when Twinkle goat started to chortle to herself and act as if she was going to have her babies just after milking on Thursday night.

Having checked all the dates it seemed that, even being generous with the timings, Twinkle was not due to have her triplets for at least another 6 weeks and so it seemed that something was about to go badly wrong for her.  A few weeks earlier than anticipated, I spent a cold and restless night in the barn snuggled up next to Twinkle as she miscarried one tiny kid after another.  By morning milking we had all three tiny dead triplets and a very sad Twinkle.  Poor girlie ... But she seems to have perked up a little bit and her sister Twiggy (seen in pic above behind Twinkle) is looking after her very well.

The goaties spent part of yesterday enjoying the winter sunshine out in their field but today's greyness saw them safely back indoors.  Valerie was in her favourite corner and looked very relaxed without young Humphrey bothering her as he was off somewhere else playing with other youngsters.

And my beautiful old Flora was well settled under the nearest hayrack ..

The girls are eating enormous amounts of hay at the moment and so Flora likes to make sure that she is in prime position to eat the maximum amount of hay with as little effort as possible.

Tuesday 11 February 2014

A weekend with Weston A Price

Jane the Cheese and I spent a wonderful weekend at the Weston A Price Foundation European Conference in the wonderful setting of Sandown Park Racecourse.  It was a long couple of days but very much worth it and we both enjoyed ourselves.

This is the fourth WAPF conference that I have attended and it just gets bigger and better every year!  There is so much to see and learn and try .. the whole place is just so full of energy.  Everyone is really keen to learn about things and our wonderful raw milk is always a great hit with all those who try it.

Here's Jane's smart new van parked outside the main grandstand:


And the lady herself ..

We always share a stand - I only take up a little bit of space with our milk but this year I also took along a selection of our wonderful soaps as well as a couple of beautiful soft kid skins.

And on Sunday, I had to give a talk on 'Keeping a Family Goat'.  A few people came to listen and, unknown to me, Jane sneaked in at the back of the room with my camera and took a couple of pics.

Joe covered my London farmers markets again and David looked after all the goaties, with some help from Mel.  It's wonderful not having to worry about leaving David on his own - I can just concentrate on what I am meant to be doing instead of feeling guilty about not being there!

Here's a couple of goatie pics for you ... Aretha and her sister Dolores curled up fast asleep.  How cosy is this?!

And look who's in the hayrack!  Yes, young Miss Husky goat.  That's Aretha staring round the corner.

And, having searched high and low in the house to try and find Marmite Cat, she was finally located high up on a shelf in the kitchen boiler cupboard!.  Obviously nice and toasty warm up there ..

Wednesday 5 February 2014

A week of fairies, sheep and little Gracie Moos

How utterly lovely it was to have my dairy fairy back again at the end of last week.  Lovely Julie appeared on Thursday, fresh back from her weeks away in the sunshine of New Zealand.  I have told her that she is never allowed to go away on holiday ever again.  Ever.  She just laughed.  Don't think she realises how serious I am ..

David and I awarded ourselves a 'day off' last week as we drove through the pouring rain to visit our new sheep milking colleagues Matt and Becky in Sussex.  They were kind enough to invite us over to see their farm and meet some of their girls .. Here they are, the future milking flock of Top Paddock Dairy:

Aren't they just gorgeous?!  They are a special breed of dairy sheep called Friesland and one of the first things we noticed about them was their long bald tails.  Just like rats!  If you squint hard at the middle pic above you can see them. 

Matt also gave us a bale of his wonderful home-grown lucerne haylage for the goaties to try out.  David put a small amount in a couple of the hay racks and nearly got killed in the rush ..

I guess it was quite popular then!

And the goaties all had a lovely surprise on Sunday night when our dear Francesca appeared.  Footsie could hardly get over to the gate quick enough as she spotted Fran with two large bags of bananas!

Monday morning involved a fair bit of paddling around in mud to separate Gracie Moos from their calves as vet Peter was due to arrive at 9.30am to dehorn and castrate.  It all worked out pretty smoothly and the 4 (not so little!) calves were moved away from their mums to await his arrival.  The calves were very well behaved but there was a considerable amount of anxious moo-ing from all the mums waiting outside!

It's all fairly quick and painless for them - local anaesthetic makes everything easier and David always talks to them and tries to keep them calm when they are held in the calf crush.

Needless to say, their mums were very glad to have them back again when it was all over!

And what of our new little mum, Klaudette?  Well, she is doing just fine.  And she brought her sister along with her for milking last night  .. they are only little girlies and so both fitted quite nicely into one stall in the parlour!