Thursday 29 January 2015

The emperor's new clothes

Or Beamish's new coat, to be more accurate.  You may remember that our lovely Alpine male Beamish has a bit of a long term problem with his hair.  Or lack of it .. He is like a rhino and so, last winter, we got him a nice calf coat to keep him snuggly in the cold weather.

This worked really well and he was very happy wearing it but gradually the other boys managed to break the straps and the fastenings and, by the time the warm weather came, the coat was just about hanging on.  Time to find a new coat for our old chap!

A brief trial of various dog coats soon led me to face the fact that I really had to splash out and buy Beamish a proper goat coat.  Not cheap but then it makes me so happy when I see him all warm and comfy that expense doesn't really matter.

So here he is, along with the special 'extension' straps to get round his belly!

As usual, there was great excitement as Hugo thought there was a new goat in the house but he soon realised that it was just his old mate Beamish.

Still on the subject of boys and their hair ... A few days ago I noticed that Handsome Humphrey had few bald patches on his rear end.  Not sure if you can see it very well but the hair on his back (to the right of the pic) is quite long.  The hair on his bottom (to the left by the tail) is very very short and worn down.

Why was this?  He didn't seem to have any strange skin condition, no itching or soreness ... What could be causing it?

Well, it didn't take long to find out ... Seems that Humps is rather popular with the ladies (despite his lack of male 'attributes') and they spend a lot of time rubbing their heads on his bottom!  Allow me to demonstrate with a short video taken this morning ..

And that, dear readers, is why Handsome Humps has a baldy bottom!

Still on the subject of bottoms ... It's that time of year when the young goatlings are all starting to get plump and sprout udders.  Our young Husky goat is no exception .. she is getting very round and that little udder is now clearly visible.  She certainly looks like she is in kid but we will find out for sure next Monday when scanning man Michael comes to check out all the girlies.

We had the first flurries of snow at milking time this evening and it certainly is a chilly night out there tonight.  Nowhere near as much as the rest of the country but David keeps on hoping that he will get a chance to go out and play on the snow plough!

Needless to say, Marmite cat has spent most of the day in the warmest spot in the house .. on the top shelf of the airing cupboard.  I have still no idea how she manages to get right up there!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Ellie's Dairy has a holiday ..

Well here we are - back in the land of blogging.  Seems that it was not only me who was having the problem.  I did a little bit of internet research last night and put my teccie hat back on.  Seems that Google/Blogger have decided that we should all be using Google Chrome to write our blogs ...

So, I have reluctantly upgraded to Chrome and (fingers crossed) all seems to work again at the moment ..

Anyhow, enough ranting ... what do you reckon to this blog title then?!  Not often you read all those words in the same sentence!

Yes indeed folks .. David and Debbie have had 2 brief holidays since we last spoke. Leaving Auntie Anita and Milking Mel in charge of those goatie girls (or was it the other way round?), we went off to spend a couple of days in London last week.

The original plan had been to drive to East Dulwich, park up outside Franklins Farm Shop and then hop on a bus into town.  But the transport union managed to scupper this idea by calling a 24hr bus strike. Plan B ... drive to Blackheath and park up at the station.  Hop on a train into town and then tube to Kensington to check in at our hotel.

The main purpose of the break was to enjoy the Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall - this was our Xmas present to ourselves!  So, we just extended the visit and booked ourselves into a rather nice hotel just round the corner from Albert.

We managed to check in early, dropped our bags off and then skipped across the road to Imperial College to find some of our friends at the South Kensington Farmers Market for a scrummy lunch.  Then David was treated to the 'Debbie Walking Tour of London' as we tramped for several miles to see the sights ..  Here is a passing tourist at the Queen's house ..

And another one!

The Albert Hall was as stunning as I remember it from years ago when I used to live in London and was a regular season ticket holder to the Proms.

And the show was just incredible.  Utterly amazing.  If you ever get a chance to go and see the Cirque du Soleil, then go!  Unbelievable acrobatics, dancing, music and costumes.  A night to remember.

After a very comfortable night (and several text messages from Auntie Anita to assure us that all goaties and Gracie Moos were all surviving very well without us!), we set off for the Science Museum to peer at exhibits and play with things.  Of course, we had to look round the Agricultural section!

In true Ellie's Dairy style, food obviously played an important role in our little break and so we set off to find Casa Brindisa for a delicious lunch of tapas and wine.  And the photo on the wall above our table was an added bonus - mountain goats in Spain!

And finally, a taxi ride to visit fellow traders at Borough Market and wonder at the sheer height of the amazing Shard.

Back home and back to reality for a few more busy days .. then off again to Herefordshire yesterday to take some more of our little goatie girls to their new home.  We took 13 of the newest babies to join the 130 youngsters that we moved in September.

It was great to see Andrew and Diane again and the goatie girls just looked amazing.  Lovely and round and most of the goatlings now well in kid.  They are due to start kidding in a few weeks and, thankfully, Andrew almost has the new milking parlour finished and ready to go.

I would love to be a fly on the wall for those first few milking sessions - it's going to be chaos!!  Maybe we should send some of our older girls down to train the youngsters in parlour etiquette.

A brief overnight stay at the same lovely farm B&B as last time - Lowe Farm - and then back home to Kent via the scenic route round the Malverns and down through the Costwolds.  Utterly gorgeous.

So that's it for the moment!  Two nights away in two weeks .. who would have thought it!

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible ..

I'm not ignoring you .. just struggling with loading pictures into my blog at the moment.  As soon as I can figure out how to fix it, we will be back!!!

Thursday 8 January 2015

Who's a pretty boy then?

Here he is then .. the newest arrival on the farm...

Little Fred.  Born to our oldest and biggest Gracie Moo.  She, of course, is a wonderful mum.  Follows him everywhere with that wonderful deep maternal moo-ing noise so characteristic of a proud new mum.

And everyone else was also very pleased to welcome the little chap .. Though probably slightly more interested in the lashings of new straw laid out to keep them all dry and cosy.

Goatie helper Anita managed to get some great pics of the little people this week ..

Bottoms up at breakfast time!

Although one little fellow decided that he would prefer breakfast in bed...

He didn't fall in the trough and he wasn't stuck.  He just ran over and lay down in it to eat his breakfast!

All those different colours look so nice in a line-up:

And check out those cheeky little faces ...

Thursday 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

And let's hope that it will be a fine and healthy 2015 for everyone!

Life has continued much as normal for the goaties and humans at Ellie's Dairy over the festive period.  Still up early for milking every day, still making cheese and bottling milk.  But it has been rather nice not having to rush about everywhere with deliveries and I have spent several days catching up with my paperwork mountain.  I am almost back in control of it now!

The Gracie Moos are now well settled back at the farm and were pleased to have a new bale of silage yesterday morning.  David struggled to get the tractor in to drop the bale as the Gracies insisted on standing in front of the tractor to eat the bale as soon as it appeared at their gate.

But they soon moved out of the way and then set about contentedly munching away ..

Whilst all this was going on, we shut the back gate to the goatie barn to keep those naughty goaties out of the way.  But, as usual, they had to see what was going on outside and why the gate had been shut on them .. Here's Enid and Beatrix checking out the action outside ..

And as soon as the tractor was out of the way and the gate was opened again .. out trots everyone to see what has been going on ..

David spent some of the Xmas hols mucking out and The Boys have been moved into an area further into the main barn.  David was concerned that Beamish (elderly and hairless!) was sitting in a draughty place and thought that he needed to go somewhere a little more cosy.  So, now they have a nice sheltered area at the back of the barn with 3 sides facing out to the girls.  Very snuggly and with a panoramic view of their ladies!

Epi is up to her old tricks again and so the 'naughty corner' is back in use during milking times. 

Many of the young goatlings are coming through the parlour now as well - some of them are brave enough to run up the ramp and come through the stalls with the milkers.  Some are just content to run in and eat from a bucket - sisters Connie and Prunella are quite happy to share their dinner!

Some of the old girls are happier to eat from the wheelbarrow - Mora and Thelma are regular visitors for extra dinner,

Both of these are now 'geriatric' goats .. According to the veterinary literature, goats over 6 years old are 'veterans' whilst those over 8 years old are 'geriatric'. Think Betty and Wilma might have something to say about that!