Tuesday 26 May 2015

Babies and Morris Men

So, life goes on and we have to live with our memories of those lovely goaties whom we have recently lost.  And, as is usual at this time of year, amongst all the sadness and trauma of illness and death, new life arrives and the barn is full of the sound of excited, lively babies.

We are almost at the end of kidding now with just a handful of girls left to give birth.  Here are some of the newest arrivals:

Little Husky-Monkey continues to follow in her mother's wayward footsteps and spends most of her time just roaming around in the barn.  She always manages to find the most comfy place to sleep ..

And she has now been joined by young Rubbish who is growing up fast.  He leaves foster mum Maisea behind and climbs out through the gate to go and play with Monkey.  They make a good couple actually:

Makes me smile to think that her mum Husky used to do exactly the same thing with Humphrey when they were both kids ... sigh ....

And I managed to get a lovely photo of friends Hokey and Hermione curled up together last week ..

Our Farmers' Markets have continued apace throughout the kidding season and yesterday was no exception as I toddled off to the Three Tuns pub in Lower Halstow (Kent, for a change!).  We go there a couple of times a year and it is always a pleasure to meet up with the other stallholders again as well as our wonderful hosts Chris and Carol.

We had the added excitement of Headcorn Morris yesterday and it was great to stand and watch them dancing.  I was worn out just watching them!

And finally, a little video of a naughty baby ... Olwen's little girlie decided to squeeze out of her house and go exploring.  Mum was not so happy about this and was clearly quite anxious to have her safely back inside!

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Like buses ...

So there I was, all ready to entertain you with a selection of piccies from the past (busy) week, when we were suddenly overtaken by the sad events of today.  And although I know that a blog should be entertaining for the reader with lots of photos and little videos to amuse, I also know that we must aim to be truthful and to paint a realistic picture of what life is like for us all here at Ellie's Dairy.  Most of the time it is a very busy, happy place but sometimes life can turn sour very suddenly.

Farming is not just a cosy, pretty way of life.  It is very hard work, relentless and unforgiving.  And sometimes, like today, it is raw and cuts you to the bone.

Today I loaded up the trailer and went off to see our lovely vet Peter with 4 of our goaties.  I returned home with only 2.  Deaths are like buses ... you wait ages for one and then several come along all at the same time.  Seems only a few days ago that we lost our beloved Klarah and Beamish ..

We had to say goodbye to our beautiful shaggy Dipsy goat who had serious issues with her breathing.  A thorough examination with an endoscope up her nostril showed that there was some kind of huge blockage which could not be dealt with.  Nothing could be done for her and so I had to take that tough decision.

She was a pretty and well-behaved girl who never caused any trouble.  She has given us a few lovely daughters over the years and so her shaggy looks live on in the herd .  Incidentally, her mum Tammy is our oldest goat at over 12 years of age!

Next up was Handsome Humps.  He had started to look uncomfortable last night and seemed to be having problems with his waterworks ... can be quite a common problem in castrated male goats but usually can be sorted with medication or even surgery.

But as soon as I walked him out of the trailer, Peter frowned and said that he was concerned about the shape of Humphrey's underbelly.. Yes, it is rather large!  No, said Peter .. it looks all wrong.

So, into the exam room for Humps .. a little shave and a wash and then an ultrasound scan.  Looking at the screen, I could just see a patch of dark ... nothing else.  Was this normal?  What should I be able to see?  Peter coached me through the various bits and pieces on the screen.  We should be able to see the intestines and the bladder .. he would have expected it to be huge and distended.  But there was nothing at all there.  The dark patch was fluid of some sort .. Peter was concerned that it was urine.  A needle in to release some of the fluid confirmed his worst fears .. Humps had a ruptured bladder and we had caught it in the very early stages.  A few more hours and he would be crying in pain as the poisons built up in his system.

Poor Humps .. tragic and totally unexpected.  I held my big handsome boy as he fell asleep for the last time.

Milking tonight was just not the same without Humps barging his way through to get to the wheelbarrow.  He had a good life and never quite made it to the butcher!  He had an important job to do looking after disabled mum Valerie who will be missing her little Humps tonight.

Here's a few pics to remind you:

Saturday 9 May 2015

A week of goodbyes

In life there are many different types of goodbyes.  There are the planned, anticipated and exciting goodbyes and there are the totally unexpected 'take your breath away' kind of goodbyes.  We have experienced both this week.

Our planned goodbye started early on Wednesday morning as we loaded 48 of our gorgeous little female kids into a trailer for David to drive up to Hereford.  These lucky babies have gone to live in the same herd as our other goaties with those lovely people Andrew and Diane.  It was sad to see them go but we are excited for them to be part of the new herd which is now well into the swing of producing milk to supply a Welsh cheesemaker.

We will miss them all especially the last one to be loaded into the trailer.  She did bring a tear to the eye.  Little Boomerang ..

An email from Diane received today confirmed that all the babies were settling in well and seemed very happy in their new home.  However, she did also write ..'It didn't take them long to find their way on top of our stacked bales or out into the other end of the shed past the cow and calf much to her surprise'.    Mmmm .. I wonder who that was!!!

During kidding season, The Boys usually get moved out of the main barn as we need to make space for all those mums and babies.  Although happy in their new house, old Beamish seemed not to be doing so well and so I decided yesterday that he should come back into the main shed.  

We set up a large pen in one corner of the milkers' area, next to our little 'special needs' babies so that Beamish could enjoy a bit of warmth from the patio heat lamp if the evenings turned cold again.  He was very happy to be back with all his ladies again and they all went over to welcome him back as they came out of the milking parlour.  He munched away on his hay, enjoyed a banana and we had a nice cuddle as he settled down for the night.

Promising to return in a couple of hours, I drove off to do my evening deliveries and to get things ready for weekend farmers' markets.

When I returned to the barn, I switched on the light and walked in to find Beamish dead.  Totally and utterly dead.  I could hardly believe my eyes ... I vaulted over his gate but there was nothing to be done.  My beautiful old boy was long gone.

We can only imagine that he must have had a massive heart attack and dropped down dead.  There was no evidence that he had struggled and there was no apparent sign of illness.  It would seem that he went very suddenly, surrounded by all his old friends.  

So, a little photographic tribute to dear Beamish ..

As a young boy:

A working boy and 'man' of the herd:

And in his old age with his smart winter coat on ..

Over the years, Beamish has said goodbye to all his close friends as they have passed on .. Shaggy, Fremlin and Max.  So maybe now he is there with them all again in that great goat shed in the sky.

Goodbye my lovely boy.

Thursday 7 May 2015

A quick Gracie Moo update

Some more moo pics for you!

New baby:

With mum (left) and granny (right):

And 'little' Fred!!

Sunday 3 May 2015

The arrival of Gracie number 17

Not to be out-done by all those goatie girls, young Gracie Moo number 10 produced her own little person early this morning.  All by herself and without any fuss (goaties take note!) she delivered a lovely little heifer calf who was soon up and about with mum gently moo-ing behind.

She is quite a petite little thing but will soon grow into one of those big, brown and very round Gracie Moos.

Meanwhile, Maisea and Rubbish were curled up together waiting for milking to begin:

We have decided to leave Rubbish in permanently now as Maisea looks after him very well and she gets distressed when we take him out and return him to his own house.  So, everyone is happier if he just stays where he is!

When Maisea decides that she would like to go into the milking parlour, Rubbish just stays behind and snuggles down into the straw to wait for his foster mum to come back.