Thursday 27 November 2014

Tough decisions

Today was a day for tough decisions as we had to say goodbye to the youngest and one of the oldest members of our herd.  Although there were very good reasons for both, you still have those tiny moments of doubt when you try to convince yourself that everything will be OK ...

Our lovely vet Peter was tasked with the job of sending both goaties off to the big goatshed in the sky.  Always tough for the vets but Peter is a consumate professional and so always handles the situation efficiently and calmly (despite lots of blubbing from myself and David!).  He always examines the animal thoroughly first and if he thinks that there is a chance of successful treatment, he will always give us the option to change our mind.  Though I have to say, in all our years of goatkeeping, this has happened only once!

First up was our last baby, born to Kitty only a couple of weeks ago.

You may remember that he had odd front legs.  Despite all our efforts and treatment, it became apparent that his legs would never straighten and his little knees seemed almost fused solid.  It was impossible to straighten his legs and the little chap moved around on his front knees with his bottom in the air. 
He was a beautiful big boy and such a happy little goat - he would bounce around with the others in his pen, despite being on his knees.  But, with no prospect of ever being able to straighten his legs, there was nothing we could do.  To leave him as he was would have been unthinkable and so we had to say goodbye.  David cuddled him as Peter sent him gently away.
Deep breath and then on to the old chap .. my beautiful old Macsen.  He came to us 7 years ago as a young buck from a tiny cottage high up in North Wales:

He always had a lovely smiley face and used to sing to his ladies during the mating season.  We always thought it was because he was Welsh!

When he arrived he was quite a handful but he soon settled down and was very happy living with our other male goats.

 But recently, he had begun to look quite elderly and frail.  His back legs were getting very wobbly and he was losing weight quite rapidly, despite still having a good appetite.  He hasn't sung to the ladies at all this season and it looked like he would really start to struggle as the winter approached. 

It was a tough call but after many hours of watching him, we took the really hard decision to say goodbye.

 I walked him round into the main barn so that he could see his ladies for one last time and then I held him tight as he slipped away.  Quick, painless and dignified. 

Ffarwel fy annwyl Macsen.

Thursday 20 November 2014

A week of mixed fortunes

Time flies when you're having fun .. or something like that!

I have to say that changing a wheel in the middle of Catford early on a Sunday morning was not really my idea of fun, but that's exactly what I found myself doing on the way to Parson's Green last weekend.  Travelling down the hill towards the Catford Gyratory the van suddenly felt rather odd ... like I was driving on glass.  Driving gingerly onwards, I managed to land in the McDonald's car park with one of my back tyres as flat as a pancake.

A swift pit stop (thanks to VW kitting out the van with all the right tools for the job!) and I was on my way again .. if a little later than planned.  Pondering the logistics of both markets, I made a quick call to Anthony who was en route to Bishop's Park and diverted him instead to Parson's Green.  He had a busy day there whilst I tested the waters at Bishop's Park in the wonderful setting of Fulham Palace.

Fortunately, the drive home was a little less eventful!

Monday afternoon was spent in the company of the wonderful Rendezvous Club in Sittingbourne.  I had given a talk there last summer and when I was invited back again, I thought we should do something a bit different.

So, I arranged for a special licence from DEFRA and took Kimono's 3 little people on a day out.  And you can see just how popular they were with all the lovely ladies at Rendezvous!

The little goaties were very tired after all that cuddling and they slept very well that night.
Sadly, the same could not be said for myself last night as I spent the night lying in the barn next to an extremely poorly Poppin goat.  Just as we finished milking, we noticed that Poppin seemed to be in labour.  She was pushing and heaving and trying her best to get those little kiddies out into the world.  But closer examination revealed that she was not at all ready for them to come out and so all that pushing was in vain.
Around 9.30pm we called out the emergency vet and lovely Pippa spent quite some time examining Poppin.  There was nothing we could usefully do except sit and wait to see if her labour progressed more normally.  Pippa gave Poppin some painkillers to make her more comfortable and I settled down into the straw with a blanket, ready for a long night ahead.
As the night progressed, it became clear that there was something very wrong with Poppin and, as she started to shout in pain, I held her in my arms as she died just before 4am this morning.
We will never know what happened and why it all went so wrong.  Sometimes animals can induce labour themselves if they begin to feel ill as a result of something else.  Is this what happened to our lovely girl?  Suffering with some sudden and terrible condition that she knew would be fatal, she desperately tried to save her kids by going into labour. 
Farwell. my beautiful Poppin. 

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Kitty has a tiring day

So there I was, busy sorting out goaties with waggy tails for a day of romance with Hugo .... when I heard a strange noise coming from the other side of the barn.  Further investigation revealed Kitty goat in labour and having problems with a sizeable kid which was refusing to be pushed out into the world.

It took both David and I quite some time and a lot of pulling to free the kid and poor Kitty was totally exhausted by the end of it.  To my surprise, the baby was still alive when we managed to get him out and, so far, he seems to be doing OK.  His front legs are little wobbly at the moment but that has rather a lot to do with the enormous force we had to use to get him into the world.

And here he is, snuggled up with a very tired and sore Kitty goat.

He has managed to feed, though Kitty does not have much milk for him at the moment.  She forces herself to her feet and is very patient whilst the little chap crawls over to feed, but then she lies down again as soon as he is finished.  Hopefully she will get a good rest tonight and will be feeling a lot better in the morning.

In the next pen, Kimono is still loving her new babies and this morning was settled down in a corner with all of them.


And again, this afternoon ... seems to be her favourite spot!


Monday 10 November 2014

And then there were three ..

Well, three MORE .. to be exact.  Seems like kidding is becoming a year-round event. 

We have been keeping a close eye on one of those suspiciously plump Mary goats as we suspected that there may be more to her waistline than just hay.  And she proved us right ...  these three little people appeared just in time for lunch on Friday:

Two males and one female.  Kimono is a great mum and loves her new babies.  She is very attentive - always cleaning and feeding.  But occasionally she does manage a little nap, as you can see.

Meanwhile, we have released the young goatlings from their pens with Hugo and Fenn .. and, boy, were they excited to be free again!!  Lots of running and skipping about ... Here they go!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Another Debbie Away-Day

This is getting to be a bit of a habit ... Here I am again, not in the goat shed.  In Taunton, actually.  A rather lovely part of the world which is hosting the Autumn Goat Veterinary Society Conference at Taunton Racecourse tomorrow.

I left Kent in pouring rain with a van full of frozen milk for our wholesaler in Sussex and then came across country through Sussex and Hampshire to arrive in Taunton just as darkness fell.  It was a lovely drive through some beautiful scenery and I never touched the motorway once!  Of course, it was a great excuse to pass by my favourite place in the whole world .. Stonehenge.

As is my habit, I am staying at a Farm Stay B&B - a beautiful place called Pound Farm on the edge of the Quantock Hills just a few miles out of Taunton.  I always like to stay on farms and am looking forward to having a look round in the daylight tomorrow morning.  The scenery is always stunning in Somerset and I think it will be a nice frosty morning tomorrow.

Last week seemed to fly by as there was so much going on.  We had a lovely work experience student called Connie spend some time with us.  As well as doing the usual goatie work, we also had her moving furniture (as goatie assistant Anita was moving house) and packing cheese as Dairy Fairy Julie was laid up with a very badly injured knee).  Here's Connie all dressed up and ready to pack cheese:

She was a great help and was happy to muck in with all the extra non-goatie jobs that we had to get done!

Little Thumbelina goat is growing very well.  Her sight has continued to improve and she seems to be able to see everything now.  Her funny little back leg is still strange though, so I think she may end up as a bit of a 3-legged goatie.  However, she does use it occasionally and I did see her scratching her head with it this morning, so I don't think it is completely useless.

Perdi's two little chaps are also doing well.  Mum has gone back in with the herd and so we are bottle feeding them now.  Hungry little people they are!

And young Fenn is hard at work with the ladies.  He has a permanent harem of some lovely young goatlings and we also send him a grown-up lady every so often!  Hugo is also busy with a group of ladies and it would seem (fingers crossed) that he is actually performing to standard this year!

So, I'm off to bed now .. ready for a nice lie-in in the morning.  I'm not setting my alarm for the usual 4.30am. 

Night night everyone ..