Sunday 29 June 2014

It's milk, Jim, but not as we know it ....

It's been a week for strange and wonderful milk here ... Nothing strange about our delicious fresh raw goatie milk, but this week we have been trying out a few other things.

This week, the Ellie's Dairy Official Tasting Panel sampled the delicious fresh milk from our sheepie friends at Top Paddock Dairy in Sussex.  Matt and Becky are now in full swing with their milking sheep and are producing both raw and pasteurised ewe's milk.

The pasteurised milk was very creamy and light, whilst the raw milk was much more potent - still creamy but with that slight hint of sheepiness at the end!  Must admit that it did cause a few faces to be pulled ..

Next up was the marvellous raw Guernsey milk from Hurdlebrook.  I am lucky enough to be able to find raw cow's milk most weekends at one or other of my London Farmers' Markets.  Always seems odd to go to market with bucketloads of goatie milk, only to come home with bottles of cow's milk!  But, David and his parents love that thick and creamy raw cow's milk.

And finally, my dear friend Sal turned up with a rare treat for me at Parson's Green market today.  We had been speaking about camel milk some weeks ago and she had found it in one of the Middle Eastern shops that she frequents ...

And so, here it is, dear readers ... raw camel milk!  From a camel milking outfit in Holland.  If you want to read more about them, go to

Very delicious with a slightly odd (but not unpleasant) flavour.  I am going to send it over to Jane the Cheese tomorrow so that she can sample it as well.  Most notable thing about it was the price ... are you sitting down?   This 500ml bottle cost £12.99.  Yes, that's right .. £12.99.

I have asked David when we can start milking camels ... I think it would be great fun and you wouldn't have to bend down all the time.  Mind you, I have seen them racing and I think they would be impossible to catch if they ran off.  Maybe we'll stick with goats.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Back in the old field

As the goaties have been munching their way through their new field for some time now, David decided that it was time to put them back into their 'old' field as the hay has now been made.

So, the gate was opened and a meeting was convened as the goaties decided whether it was safe to go into the old field.  It didn't take them long to decide as there was plenty of lush fresh grass just inside the gateway ..

Then they started to work up their 'mountain'

Hello Vivian!

There were lots of lovely tasty thistles on the mountain

There was lots of chomping and rustling about as the goaties gradually appeared over the top

and then round the other side

Less than an hour later - all the thistles had gone!  All cleared.

Thursday 19 June 2014

A new goatie mum and the invalid

Today was the day that our young friend Flo became a new goatie mum!  Having visited us a few times and got to know the goaties, she had finally chosen sisters Diana and Vera to be the start of the new Florence Sinnett Goat Milk herd. 

Our girls were very excited to have such a responsibility!  David and I loaded them into the trailer and set off around the M25 to take them to their new home in Essex.

They travelled very well and were so chilled out on arrival that David had to get into the trailer to make them stand up!  But as soon as they spotted their wonderful new house and lots of yummy fresh grass to eat, they soon got moving ..

Flo has built a lovely new house for them which they were very keen to investigate:

Flo will be milking them by hand and has built a fantastic milking stand for them.  A message from her tonight said that both girls had coped very well with being milked by hand and they had hopped up onto the stand with no problem.

The girls took Flo out for a little trot to investigate the grass

and they soon wandered off by themselves to see what else was on offer!

Look pretty relaxed about the whole thing I think!  They are very lucky girls to have such a wonderful new goatie mum.  I am certain that Flo will spoil them rotten.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there was great excitement (most from myself and David) as we opened the new drum of teat dip.  It leaves everyone with bright dayglo pink teats after milking.  Fantastic!

And talking of bright pink ... how's this for a hideous 'selfie'?

Yes, that's my right foot.  You have to take my word for it that my feet are not usually that shape and colour!!  This was the result of climbing over a gate on Monday and landing on a block of wood that was hidden in the straw.  Fortunately, I had my big boots on .. otherwise I think there was a serious possibility that I  may have broken my ankle.

As it was, I could not put my foot to the floor.  Having managed to prise my boot off (amidst much swearing and shouting from me) David kindly provided me with what Anita described as a 'rural crutch'.  Bears a strange similarity to a broom ..

Anita managed to stop laughing long enough to take this photo, before she very kindly drove me home that evening.

Hopefully on the mend now, even if I am still slow and hobbling!

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Husky's day out

Today was a busy day both home and away.  David was at home looking after goaties and getting all that lovely haylage baled, whilst I was swanning about around the M25 to attend the Rackspace Green Fayre once again.  Obviously we didn't make too much mess on their well-manicured lawn last year as they invited us back again!

A much better journey than last year saw us arrive well before time to get everyone settled and unloaded.  Husky had decided to make a return trip (she went as a kid last year) and I also took the Three Amigos and the little Beamish black man.

The little Nubes spent most of the day just chilling in the back of the trailer

Husky was relaxing by her hayrack

And the little black man also had to have a rest after he had managed to get several of the 'Rackers' to give him a bottle of milk ..

Next to us, everyone was having a go at 'Milking the Cow'

But by far the best part of the day was having our lovely friend Sal come to visit the goaties and help out selling our cheese.

When she was a young girl (only a few years ago..!)  Sal had her own goat called Victoria - you can read many of the stories about her on Sal's own blog  Sadly she has not had the chance to cuddle a goatie person for many many years and so she was thrilled that we were coming near to London so that she could pop over and meet Husky and friends.

Her first job was to give that little black fellow his late breakfast ..

We chatted to the Rackers, had a splendid lunch that we had compiled between us (lots of yummy deli treats from Sal), sold a bit of cheese ... and then it was time to load everyone back into the trailer and head for home.

David had been busy turning, rowing and baling .. so when I arrived home, both fields were full of nice round bales

We don't have a wrapping machine and so we were waiting for our friend Farmer Joe to come and wrap the bales for us once he had finished doing his own late this afternoon.

He arrived as we were milking and all the goaties were very interested to see what this strange tractor was doing in THEIR field ...

It is a fascinating bit of machinery ... Here's Joe in action wrapping the final bale of the day:

And in case you're wondering what David's dad is doing there at the very end ... The seagulls land on top of the bales and peck holes in the plastic - this means that the air can get in and the bale then goes mouldy.  We can't feed mouldy haylage to the goaties as it can make them extremely ill and so we either have to throw it on the dung heap or feed it to the Gracie Moos (who are far more robust and tolerant of a bit of mould). 
David has discovered that if he sticks a black patch on top of the bale, the seagulls won't land on it.  The theory is that the patch has writing on it which could appear to them as a face or something they don't like.  Whatever the theory, it seems to work!
Once Joe had finished and the show was over, the goaties all went back out into their own field

So that's a good job done and the first bales of the year safely wrapped and ready to be stacked and stored.  Many more to come before harvest is over!

Tuesday 10 June 2014

The start of harvest

Here we go again!  How the time flies ...

With the good weather predicted to last for a few days, David has decided to cut the grass in a couple of the fields close to the farm so that we can get a crop of nice haylage for the goats.  Haylage is slightly fermented grass - almost hay but not quite!  Delicious for the goaties who absolutely love it .. it smells just like cider.  Yum!

So, here is one of the fields in the early morning sunshine this morning - all the grass mown and on the ground:

A couple of hours later, farmer David was busy tiddling up and down in his tractor turning the grass so that it dries:

I decided to join him for a couple of runs up and down the field.  Here's the view out of the front window of the tractor:

And this is what happens behind ....
Tomorrow he will turn it all again in the morning, then row it all up and bale it.  Another farmer will come and wrap all the bales for us (as we don't have the machinery to do that bit) and then we stack it all up ready for the winter.
Over the weekend I called in at the Museum of Kent Life to visit our little chaps down there.  How they have grown!  They have 3 wheelbarrows in their area - one little man was just chilling out in the shade:

Whilst another found it more comfortable to lie in the wheelbarrow .. must have been very hot in the sunshine I would have thought but he seemed quite happy!

And finally .. our two old girlies went out for a stroll again during milking ..  I took Wilma out for a little nibble (hence the blue lead round her neck) but we were soon joined by sister Betty who didn't want to miss out on anything.

Nice mouthful Betty!!


Saturday 7 June 2014

Inside or outside?

Today was one of those days when the goaties didn't know if they were coming or going.  Should they go outside?  Or should they stay indoors and munch on all that delicious hay?

Soon after milking, as I drove off to market, David reported that the heavens had opened and it was pouring with rain.  So that made the decision for the girls ... obviously you can't get your ears wet and so they stayed firmly indoors.

The babies piled on top of each other, snoring away and dreaming little goatie dreams ..

Whilst a group of little white people decided that it was better just to all sit in a line ..

At milking time we had the mum-daughter combination of JoJo and Cleo come into the parlour next to each other.  Very unusual to see them both together .. Cleo is just the spitting image of her mum.

 And Daramac decided that he couldn't be bothered waiting outside for his dinner and decided to come into the parlour to see what was going on.  Not quite brave enough to go up the ramp with the girls though!

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Jellybean and Mr G

My dear friend Sal, mama to our little grey GeeGee parrot, sent me a link to one of the most wonderful little goatie videos that I have seen in a long time.  So I wanted to share it with you.  Have the tissues ready!

People who don't have animals or who are not very close to their animals are always surprised by the strong emotions that creatures such as goats can display.  It often comes as a shock to people that goats form lasting friendships and can experience emotions such as grief and sadness.

I have seen both of these in our own herd - one example when my dear Fremlin was only a youngster and his best friend Shaggy died.  Shaggy was seriously ill but our veterinary surgery was so busy that they could not send a vet out to see him.  My only chance was to take him to the surgery.  So, we loaded him into a trailer and drove a few miles to the surgery.  He died there later that afternoon.

Poor Fremlin had seen his friend being taken away but he never returned home.  He didn't know what had happened to him.  Although he had other male goats for company, he wandered around bleating pitifully, calling for his friend Shaggy.  He would not eat and was thoroughly miserable.  This went on for just over 3 weeks but, with a lot of attention and coaxing, eventually he seemed to come to terms with it and started to settle down again.

When my dear Fremlin died last year, his close friend Beamish was still working with the girls and was unaware that Fremlin had died. That evening, I took Beamish into the shed where we had Fremlin so that he could say goodbye to his old mate.  Beamish sniffed at him, looked up at me and bleated and then walked away. 

The more time you spend with animals, the more you recognise and feel their emotions.  Sometimes it's truly humbling.