Wednesday 29 July 2015

Boys and their toys

I am happy with the small things in life like a delicious ripe tomato or a small goatie face bleating at me.  Boys, on the other hand, seem to require much larger and more expensive things to keep them satisfied.

Here is David with his latest toy, getting ready for the new hedgecutting season which will soon be upon us.

Joking apart, the old hedgecutter was starting to become unreliable and David seemed to spend a lot of his time fixing it, rather than cutting hedges with it.  This new machine also has a 'forward reach' setting which means that David does not have to twist round in his seat so much for long periods of time - this was causing him some serious back and neck problems last season.  Not as young as he used to be!

For myself, I am happy with something like this:

This happy little face is a sweet girl called Erin.  She struggled with life for many weeks after being born and spent virtually all her pre-weaning days in our hospital pen.  She was small, skinny and not very well at all.  Every day I would spend hours cleaning, feeding and cuddling her.  And all that effort finally paid off.  She is now a beautiful and healthy little goat.

Sunday 26 July 2015

A burst of colour on a grey day

What a grey day!  To misquote Larry Grayson .. showing my age now!

Marylebone Farmers' Market was all set to be fairly quiet with the start of the summer hols, but when the rain started to fall from the sky, it put a few more nails in the coffin.  It was dreary, cold and very wet .. hardly the weather for the good people of Marylebone to wander round their local farmers market.

There were some brave souls who donned their waterproofs and ventured out - thank you all!!  But it was a rather damp and quiet day .. all the stalls had lots of produce left at the end of the day and the stallholders were all gaily swapping items between themselves.  Cheese for bread.  Cheese for veg.  Cheese for cheese ..

Cold and wet from packing up, I wandered back to pick up my van via the rather lovely Paddington Street Gardens .. And chanced upon the most wonderful display of begonias I have ever seen .. A burst of colour on a rather dark and dismal rainy London afternoon:

Cheered me up briefly before I had to hit that Sunday afternoon traffic ..

Thursday 23 July 2015

Big bull, small heart

How do you fancy meeting this handsome chap on a dark night?

Looks a bit menacing don't you think?

Well, this is our bull for this season.  A Red Angus called Neil.  Actually, he doesn't have a name but David has decided that he should be named after the farmer who owns him!

He arrived a couple of weeks ago from Farmer Neil and is living very happily in the field with all the Gracie Moos.  Apparently, he is a bit of an exhibitionist ... when he arrived, he walked out of the trailer, lay on his back with his legs in the air and gave the Gracies a good old view of all his manly attributes!  Then he roared and got up and just walked off.  Typical blokey behaviour ...

He will be on his holidays with us and the Gracie Moos for a few weeks while he gets down to business before returning home to carry on working there.

Slightly smaller in stature, but no less handsome is one of our little goatie boys.  Goatie Auntie Anita managed to snap his best side as he showed off his little heart-shaped marking.  Pretty little man!

Anita suggested that we call him Valentino.  Has a nice kind of ring to it don't you think?

Thursday 16 July 2015

Familiar faces

Just a couple of pics for you to enjoy ..

Monkey fast asleep after a hard morning just being Monkey ..

Sadie with her two lovely little chaps;

And who is this handsome boy?

That, dear readers, is our lovely little Lampshade boy.  Without his lampshade!  His back has healed up now and so we took his collar off a couple of weeks ago.  So far, so good ..  But he is difficult to recognise without his collar on!

Wednesday 15 July 2015

The new 'old' field

Dedicated followers of our little blog may remember that David was 'doing stuff' with the goats' old field.  He had decided that the grass was becoming poorer and needed to have something done about it.  So, the goats were evicted to their new field whilst he spread the big pile of goat manure sitting at the edge, and then ploughed it all in.

Then, early one morning, his brother turned up with a lot of machinery to cultivate and drill the field.  Here he is loading the seed into the hopper on the back:

And then we waited and waited for something to grow.  David wandered around talking to the seeds and prayed for a little rain to get things going ..

And eventually, it did ...

So, any guesses what it is?

We have decided to have a go at growing sainfoin - mixed with a little grass seed to make a nice crop.  Sainfoin is a forage crop similar to lucerne but does not cause animals to bloat.  It is also a natural defence against worms (of the gut variety) and so will be very good for the girlies to eat.  David will probably make hay/haylage from it next year but this year he is just allowing the goats limited grazing time on it.

So, last week, he opened up the gate and all the girls immediately headed for their 'mountain' which was covered in tasty weeds and thistles ..

And they made very short work of that lot!  They gradually wandered off into the field and David was thrilled to see that they were really enjoying the new crop .. always a tense moment with goats as they are very picky about what they eat (contrary to popular opinion!).

They were allowed out into that field for a few hours and then it was back to the other field for the rest of the week ... And, as we know, that field always involves a risk assessment meeting before anyone is allowed out ..

And while we are on the subject of growing things ... Anthony took a few pics of the beautiful wild flowers planted at the Horniman Gardens to attract the bees and insects.  Beautiful!

Monday 13 July 2015

Another lovely day at the Rosewood

The Rosewood Hotel is an exceedingly elegant hotel situated on Holborn, just on the edge of the City of London.  Every Sunday it plays host to the only Slow Food Market in the country.

I rolled up at the back entrance as usual, turned in to the courtyard and was greeted with nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  No stalls, no people, nothing.  Brief panic as I wondered if the market had been cancelled and someone had forgotten to email me ...  But as I turned further in to the entrance, I was relieved to see that the market had just moved round the corner into the very lovely main courtyard to the hotel.  Panic over!

And what a setting for a market!  How beautiful is this?

That's our stall to the right (by the yellow box)

Pearl, the hotel dog, was beside herself with excitement and spent the whole day wandering between stallholders to see if there were any tasty little morsels on offer.

Most of her time was spent staring lovingly at the two young men from Gastronomica who had the most wonderful range of charcuterie .. a firm favourite with Pearl.

But it all proved to be too much for her and she eventually fell asleep beneath Oak and Smoke...

And how about this for a wonderful sculpture .. made from branches of  wood.  Amazing!

To find out more about the Slow Food Market, check out the website:


Saturday 11 July 2015

Borough Market here we come!!!

Yes indeedy ... after a lengthy selection and approval process, our humble little dairy is being allowed to trade in London's Borough Market.  For those of you who are not familiar with this market, Borough is possibly the finest food market in the country.  It is home to many specialist producers and is just a wonderful and amazing place to shop and eat.  The sounds, sights and smells are an assault on the senses and to walk through there on a busy day is just the most incredible experience.

And we are going to be there!!!!

Starting on 5th August, we will be trading every Wednesday through to Saturday and will be located in Three Crown Square near to Bedale's Wine Bar.  Look out for the Tomato Stall and Gorwydd Caerphilly and we will be near by.

I can hardly contain my excitement ... But there is just so much to do before we get there!

Back at the farm, life has continued apace and David is still busy baling all that lovely hay and haylage for the goatie girls and boys. The weather has been just right for haymaking and so he has been taking full advantage of it!

Young Monkey goat is growing up fast and spends her evenings with her Auntie Ginger.  Here they are, first thing in the morning, as we open the barn ready for milking:

Meanwhile, our experiment with mums and babies is going well and all the kids are getting quite big now.  Here's one of Sadie's little chaps playing with his Auntie Pippi .. smart move to stand on the wall so that he is the same height!

And finally, after all the little girls have gone to their new home in Herefordshire, these are the 9 who are left.  Specially selected for their characters!  Those little chocolate girlies are just SO cute!

Thursday 2 July 2015

A visit from the dentist

We thought it was about time that some of our older ladies had a visit from the dentist.  We had noticed that a couple of them seemed to be having slight problems eating and so we rounded up a small group for expert vet John to take a look at.  We have never done this before and so were not quite sure what we would find.

John, along with our lovely vet Peter, is one of the most senior directors at our veterinary practice and he is an expert equine dentist.  However, he also turns his hand to goat dentistry and gets plenty of practice at Buttercups Goat Sanctuary where he regularly checks out all the rescue goats in their care.

With Auntie Anita firmly in control of the gag and David acting as back stop, Margot was one of the first into the dentist's chair:

A quick wash out, a minimal amount of grinding and Margot was pronounced fit and healthy, much to her relief.

All the girls behaved very well and were rewarded with bananas!

On a serious note, John found a few minor problems which he rectified and so we are planning on having him back again in the near future to go through all our girls over 5 years old.  Could be a busy day!

Last week we also played host to Liverpool vet student Tessa who returned to us for another week of work experience.  Tessa first came to us a couple of years ago as a pre-university student and so it was great to catch up with her and see how she was getting on.  She is also planning to come back yet again next spring to help us with kidding.

She was a great help with the goaties, especially as David and I were away for a couple of days.  She became a great friend to Monkey who loved having someone around in the barn with her all day and she showed a particular interest in whatever Tessa happened to have in her lunch box each day ..

And possibly one of the best photos of the year so far .. I have been waiting for our largest and smallest goats to come in to the parlour together and it finally happened while we were away!  Fortunately, Goatie Auntie Anita had camera on hand to capture the moment.  So here is big old Roz and tiny little Tiddly Widdly ..

Amazing eh?!  You have met TW before .. she is a tiny goat but full of personality and always has a lot to say for herself.  Roz is a very quiet, sedate goat who has never produced a single kid.  We think that she may actually be part female/part male but she really is a gentle giant.  Counted as one of my 'useless goats' by David, she remains in the herd as she has the important job of keeping her little sister Celia company.

And finally ... the Rosewood Hotel got into the Wimbledon spirit with their wonderful display along the front of the hotel:

The market on Sunday was also honoured to receive a visit from the hotel dog Pearl.

Pearl has free access to the hotel, has her own room and only drinks filtered water.  And raw milk (as I was reliably informed by the Hook & Son stallholder)!  I wonder if the Rosewood would like a hotel goat?

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Phew! What a scorcher ...

As temperatures soared in Kent today, the traffic queues got longer and longer.  When Calais closes, Kent becomes one enormous car park and everything just grinds to a standstill as the M20 becomes a lorry park.  

As I was sitting in traffic today, the temperature soared to a balmy 37 degrees ...  Bit too toasty for my liking ..

But it's good haymaking weather and David has been absolutely flat out baling and carting hay.  The barn is filling up nicely!  And still lots of grass to cut ..

The goaties are not enjoying the heat very much at all.  They have a quick trot out into their field after morning milking and then come back indoors as the barn is slightly cooler.  Then they just sit around and pant all day.

It's always a worrying time when the temperature rises and we have to keep a close eye on everyone to make sure that noone is becoming stressed and overheated, especially the older girls where extreme heat can sometimes lead to heart attack.

I was concerned about Cilla goat this evening as she was panting very heavily and getting quite distressed. 

 I soaked a towel in cold water and threw it over her and gave her a nice big bucket of water (with a little extra rehydration salts) ... David also found a fan for her!

It took a couple of hours for her to calm down but she was lying down in a corner of the barn with a nice cool breeze blowing over her when we left tonight.

And, of course, the heat doesn't seem to affect some people at all ...  Young Monkey goat ..