Wednesday 30 April 2014

Boxes, buckets and the cave

At the moment we have two little black and white girlies who are not doing terribly well.  We left them with their mums for extra time just to try and give them a really good start but they have not seemed to pick up at all.

So, now they are in a special cosy pen which has a nice infra-red heat lamp to keep them toasty and warm. 

We call it 'the cave' - at night there is a lovely red glow inside.  I may snuggle down in there with the babies instead of in my caravan!

As we know, babies love to sit inside things - this young lad was rudely awakened by mum Winky who wanted to check if there was anything edible left in her breakfast bucket.

Whilst this little man decided that the crate should be turned upside down so that he could stand inside it, instead of on top.

And in the corner was a snuggly pile of kids, all sleeping off their breakfast.

We are almost at the end of kidding - just a couple more to go (unless we have any more surprises!).  So then I can catch up on all that sleep and mountains of paperwork that is waiting for me at home ... Something to look forward to!

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Sleeping babies

Just had to share these few pics taken during a quiet moment this afternoon ..  Enjoy.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

A happy day for Margot

Old-timers may remember the sad story of our dear Margot goat who aborted her kids early in the season last year.  Desperate for a baby of her own, she would attend every kidding in the barn, help to lick the babies clean and then try to steal them from their mums.  Poor Margot.

Today, with a little help from student Matt, Margot produced 2 bouncing babies - one male and one female.  And a very happy mum she is too.  Here she is tucking into her tea shortly after kidding .. obviously worked up an appetite!

It seems to be the turn of the white goats at the moment - the kidding pens are full of them!

There have been a few unexpected births as some of the goatlings who were scanned as being 'empty' have decided that they are not 'empty' at all! 

I just love the way that tiny kids fall asleep - some with their legs entwined:

 Others don't seem to care that they are sticking out into their neighbour's pen:

It's a constant juggle to keep babies arriving and get pens ready for new mums.  Here's Matt juggling with Cleo's 3 little babies ... beautiful little things with huge ears and personalities to match!  They were all perfectly balanced for their photo and then (in true goatie fashion) started to wriggle as soon as I had my camera ready.  But Matt did manage to hang on to them!

And, as we know, small goaties are very bouncy.  Here's a group of youngsters having a little run about earlier this evening:


Friday 18 April 2014

All behind with everything ...

Behind with the washing, behind with writing my blog, behind with paperwork, no sleep.  You get the general idea.  The last 10 days have been a bit of a blur to be honest!  Students coming and going, babies continually arriving, a couple of sad farewells to goaties and endless buckets and bottles of milk.

Our students have been wonderful so far.  You have already met Emma from Nottingham Vet School.  Last week we had young Louisa, a work experience student who is trying to get lots of work under her belt before she applies to vet school.  Here she is working hard with the babies ..

This week and next week, we are in the very capable hands of Matt from Bristol Uni vet school.  Originally from North Yorkshire, he is a 'mature' student (at only 26 ... That makes me somewhere in the region of 'geriatric' I think!). 

And yesterday we also had a visit from Rebecca, another Nottingham student who is coming to join us for kidding next year.  Barely had she stepped out of her car when we had her in overalls feeding babies with Matt.  She only came to have a look round!

The goatie girls are all doing a wonderful job of looking after their new babies.  Here is Irma hard at work with her two:

And Kelpie, one of the young Mary goats, with one of her little girls:

Everywhere you look there are babies fast asleep:

And a pile of JoJo triplets.  Beautiful little Anglo-Nubian creatures.  Two boys and a girl .. same as every time.  At least she is consistent!

Even Humphrey has found the kidding experience very tiring ...

But in amongst all the excitement of new arrivals, we have had a couple of tragedies.  Our lovely Mimi produced 3 little dead babies.  I have never seen a goat so utterly depressed and distraught.  Standing with head down, just licking at the small dead kid in front of her.  I climbed into her pen to comfort her and she just pressed her head against my shoulder and stayed there for ages - almost like she was crying.

I had to do something ... I couldn't leave her like that.  So, I went over to Marietta who had produced 3 little girlies earlier on that same day.  Although the kids were healthy, Marietta didn't really have enough milk for all of them and we had been 'topping up' one of them regularly.  So, with an apology to Marietta (who didn't bat a goatie eyelid), I stole one of her babies and took it over to Mimi.

A quick sniff was all that was needed.  Mimi bleated softly at the little creature in front of her and immediately started to lick her.  Despite the fact that her little foster daughter is brown and she is white, Mimi cares for her as if she was her own.  She was happy again.  So content to have a baby to look after.  It doesn't always work but it's a joy when it does!

But worse was to come and yesterday we had to bid a fond farewell to one of our older girls Saffron who had become suddenly very poorly.  Having spent another long and cold night with her in the barn, it was obvious that we could not do anything for her and so we had to say goodbye as she went to join her sister Cora in that big goatshed in the sky. 

In between all the goatie business, everything else also has to carry on as usual and David has been hard at work on another new field.  This will be another grass field for making hay and as he was cultivating it, he took this photo out of the tractor.  Very popular with the seagulls!

So, off to markets as usual this weekend.  At least Matt will be around to look after all those greedy babies whilst David does battle in the parlour with all those new milkers.  Attitude seems to appear as soon as those girls get udders!
And talking of attitude ... here's Willow:

A fab picture taken by our lovely friend Flo who came to visit us again for a couple of days last week.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Another week passes

I can't believe that it's been a whole week since I last wrote to you.  Time flies at the moment. 

So, last Wednesday was my birthday.  Happy Significant and Very Old Birthday to me .. Got some lovely flowers, lots of yummy cake and a few more goatie babies.  Spent the day in the goatshed (as usual!).  My little caravan smells lovely at the moment with all those flowers!

Babies have been popping out everywhere this week as the goatlings finally started to join in with the older girls.  So far, everyone has done very well and there are some very proud mums around in the barn.

The kidding pens are bursting at the seams and mums are very demanding.  Especially when it comes to feeding time ...  Goats do not know the meaning of the word 'patience'.

 And as we need more space in the hay barn, The Boys are now back in with the girls.  Mostly well behaved but there is the odd outbreak of gobbling and tongue-flapping.

 Despite all the macho posturing that goes on, tiny babies still get a chance to snuggle up next to mum.  Here's Irma with her two little people:

Tuesday 1 April 2014

A day of raw milk

What a day we had yesterday!  Jane the Cheese and I jumped on a train and went up to London to attend a big meeting with the Food Standards Agency on the subject of Raw Milk .. a subject very close to our hearts.  I had been asked to speak at the event as a representative of the raw milk producers, along with Steve Hook who is the largest producer of organic raw cow's milk.  Steve is a lovely farmer from Sussex who is absolutely committed to raw milk and passionate about his farm.  You may remember that Steve was taken to court by the FSA some time ago for putting a raw milk vending machine in Selfridges.

It was an excellent day with some great presentations.  The whole event was guided along by the wonderful Julian Worricker of the BBC and Steve and I were also interviewed by Sheila Dillon for the Radio 4 Food Programme (due to air on 6 April at 12.30).  I was delighted to see many of my lovely customers in the audience!

Whilst I was speaking, Jane was sneaking around trying to take photos ... Here's one for the album.

But, back to reality ... Our current vet student Emma is very attached to our tiniest little man at the moment:

He is a little sweetie - one of triplets born to Clover a couple of days ago.  He gets the prize for the tiddliest person so far this year.  He barely weighs anything and you can easily scoop him up with one hand.

But he is a plucky little chap and is doing very well.  Here he is enjoying his lunch with mum.  You can see the difference in size between him and his brother who is lying down in front of Clover:

As we know, little tiny boys grow into bigger boys.  And here's the proof ... young Humphrey doing his ballet outside the back of the milking parlour.  What a tall chap he is now!