Thursday 27 August 2015

The end of harvest!

Well ... hurrah!  Hurrah! Hurrah!  Harvest is finished for us this year.  David battled tractor breakdowns and bad weather to finally get the last of the straw dried and baled ready for storage over the winter.  The race against time at the weekend was under way to try and get everything safely home before the torrential rain started.

And he almost made it ... Coming down a slope with the final load, one of the trailer tyres blew out:

Oh dear ... and so there it sat until he could fix it yesterday.  Fortunately, it was only a few bales of straw and hopefully they will dry out pretty quickly.  The trailer will live to tow another day.

Goatie life has continued much as normal this week but the girlies have spent most of their time indoors just watching the torrential rain pour down.  Those little goatie faces staring out of the door ..

The lack of fresh air and exercise has also meant that milking times have been a lot more challenging this week.  The goatlings are getting braver by the day .. here's two of the girls who decided that it was safer with a friend ..

And then, of course, there's Monkey.  What a big fat goatie she is now!

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Me and my shadow

It was a rather murky start to the day this morning as the mist rolled in off the sea.

But the sun soon broke through and the fields were soon basking in the early morning sunshine

Goaties collected outside the parlour door after milking, reluctant to walk into the field and get their little footsies wet on the morning dew ..

Evie stuck her nose in to see what was going on:

Alice was busy making shadows on the parlour wall:

And old Tammy was just hopeful that there might be a nice banana arriving soon, if she put her best face on:

As usual, Monkey came to help with milking.  And for those of you who have been following us for a few years ... remember this?

Husky ..  and now we have daughter of Husky doing exactly the same thing.  Genetics have a lot to answer for!

 And what was this all about?!

That was Winky telling me all about her day ..

Sunday 16 August 2015

And the weekend started so well ...

Saturday was a busy busy day for the Ellie's Dairy team.  Already seriously lacking her beauty sleep, Debbie was up before the birdies to pack and load milk and cheese for 3 markets.  Joe and girlfriend Rosie were on duty at Borough market:

Herself was at Ealing Farmers Market:

And jolly Anthony was at Wimbledon:

Everyone had a good day but Joe and Rosie won the 'stall of the day' competition!  We have a little friendly rivalry between us all to see who can sell the most on one day at market.  Borough should win hands down but they only beat me by £5 yesterday thanks to the lovely people of Ealing.

Incidentally, an interesting conversation with a customer at Ealing yesterday revealed that he had been a roadie for the hippy group Gong in the 1970's.  Now, everyone I have spoken to since yesterday has no clue who Gong were ... but I remember them well and they were one of my favourite bands at the time.  It has to be said that they were extremely 'progressive' but the conversation with this gentleman brought back fond memories and I think that he was very surprised to find some batty old goatkeeper at a farmers market had actually heard of them!

Today was a day of rest for everyone apart from your truly who was off again, bright and early, to West Hill Farmers Market.  This is just a temporary spot for us whilst Parson's Green is closed for building works over the summer hols.

And today I was absolutely thrilled to meet Pete the Cheese from White Lake Dairy who was also at the market selling his wonderful goat's cheese.  This man is one of the best cheesemakers in the country and it was an absolute joy to finally meet him and try his cheese.

So, happy with the weekend, I drove home to find David tending to a very poorly goat ... Bringing the girls in for evening milking, he had found Krhoda (one of the older Mary goats) looking very miserable out in the field. Head down, heart racing and barely able to stand .. He managed to get her inside where she collapsed on to a clean bed of straw.  Things did not look good and so I called the emergency vet out to her.

Prognosis was grim.  Gemma thought that she had probably had a sudden severe stroke - after all, she had been absolutely fine all day.  If she had been feeling poorly, she would have been in the barn and not out in the field.  Vital signs were not good and so we took the difficult decision to say goodbye to Krhoda.  Beautiful big white girlie, she was just over 7 years old and had been with us for almost 3 years since our friend Mary retired.  She was a lovely girl and a great milker .. she will be sorely missed by us and all her goatie friends.

Krhoda is the goatie right in the centre of this pic.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

All change!

Joe is an old hand at Borough Market now ... figured out all the short cuts to drive up there quickly and get parked and set up in good time to start trading.

Our first week was very respectable, considering that it was our first week.  And it was August (notoriously poor for markets when everyone goes on hols!).  The only really bad day was Thursday courtesy of the Tube strike .. apparently there was a lot of free bread being distributed by the bakery stalls at the end of trading that day!

It would seem that quite a lot of our regular London Farmers Market customers are also starting to find us at Borough and it is lovely to see some familiar faces among the crowds.

Not to be outdone by Joe, Anthony and I also have new banners for our market awnings.  I gave mine its first airing at Balham on Saturday.  Very handy to keep the sun off the cheese!

Meanwhile, the goaties have had a bit of a move around again this week.  David has been busy mucking out (now that the big tractor has been fixed)

As it is almost mating time again (where does the time go?!), we have moved the young goatlings into the main barn so that they get used to all those big stroppy old milkers before they get pregnant and have all the stress of kidding and milking themselves.

There are only 15 youngsters this year and they have already fitted in very well, although they are still a bit wary of some of the older goats.  Old Betty is always a bit grumpy with new girls coming into HER herd .. but I did spot her sharing a food bowl with one of the goatlings yesterday!  Must be getting soft in her old age.

We do not force the goatlings to come through the milking parlour but gradually curiosity gets the better of them and they come in to find what is going on through that little gate.  Once they find out that there is food available, in a personal trough, then there is no stopping them!

Here is young Ruby who came through last night - what a brave girlie she was!

And it was good to see our oldest girl Tammy still fit and healthy and producing milk.  Not much of it, but she still makes a decent contribution to her feed bill!

The mums and babies are all back in with the main herd so the babies have all their aunties around them now.  There can be quite a lot of noise at milking time as the mums come through the parlour and the babies stay behind, but it all seems to work out OK.  The kids have certainly all grown up very quickly and are already a good size.

The little female kids are now just the other side of the fence from all the milkers.  Esther decided that they were obviously getting something far more interesting to eat than she was ..

And how about this for a cheeky face ... Bassey goat giving me a hard stare when she had finished all her food.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

First day

Well, we survived the first day at Borough Market!

Joe and I were all set up and ready to go by 10am opening.  New banners and artwork brilliantly done by our good friend Andrew at TFive graphic design ..

And this is Joe!

He filled the fridge unit with yummy cheese and milk ..

And, much to our surprise, we actually managed to sell some!

All the traders were brilliant today and everyone was so friendly.  We had lots of visitors and some customers from our London Farmers markets arrived to stock up on their milk.  A really enjoyable day!

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Countdown to Borough Market!

I have to keep pinching myself as I still can't believe that we are actually going to be trading at Borough Market!  It really will be such an honour to be there .. to stand where hundreds of traders have sold their wares for over 1000 years will just be SO amazing.

Tomorrow I will introduce you to our new Borough Market Manager, Joe .. you may recognise him from some of our London Farmers Markets.  He is young and talented and incredibly enthusiastic.  As a cheesemaker he is very knowledgeable and happy to answer as many questions as customers like to throw his way.  He will be a huge asset to the Ellie's Dairy team and I am certain that he will wow the crowds at Borough!

So, today we took a little jaunt up to the Market to put some of our larger pieces of equipment into storage.  Tomorrow we need space in the van for all our other market paraphernalia and a box or two of goatie produce!

Then we got some delicious lunch and sat just where our stall will be in Three Crown Square to soak up some of the atmosphere.

A quick wander round Neal's Yard Dairy and Brindisa ... and then back home to carry on milking and loading the van for tomorrow.

Back at the ranch, the goaties are quite oblivious to all the excitement and were just lying around basking in the sunshine:

However, there was a brief flurry of excitement yesterday evening when Kelly (daughter of Jane the Cheese) arrived on her motorbike with a large bag of bananas for some lucky goaties.

Margot, one of our slightly infirm older ladies, was first in the queue:

But, when there are bananas around, you can guarantee that Footsie won't be far away .... and it didn't take her long to spot what was going on!