Sunday 27 September 2015

Unexpected time for blogging ..

So, before you read this little blog, take time to scroll down and look at the time it was posted .....  Hmmm ... strange .... What is she doing blogging on a Sunday afternoon when she should be selling her delicious goatie produce to the good people of Marylebone?

Well, here's the reason ...

An unexpected appointment with a lovely AA man called Chris ... Just along the M2 near Rochester.

There I was, sailing along, admiring the view from the Medway bridge in the early morning sunshine.  Up and over the hill and down the looooonnnnnng straight towards Gravesend when suddenly the van lost power.  Flashing lights on dashboard and a BMW almost up the backside as I involuntarily slowed down.  Fortunately, it was all downhill to the handy service station at the bottom.  Looks like one of the injectors has gone again ... Didn't we do this last year?!

So, back to the farm on the back of an AA van, unload all the goatie goodies and then wave goodbye to the van as the nice man towed it off to the VW dealer.  Wouldn't like to be on the end of their phone in the morning when David gives them a call!

So, motoring disasters aside, it's been a rather sociable week actually.  Early Monday was a trip to the Museum of Kent Life to pick up the last of our little chaps to go to the butcher.  As in previous years, they have decided to keep a couple of them, so these are the lucky guys:

The piggies next door were still fast asleep!

I spent Wednesday at Macknade Fine Foods with several other suppliers as part of their 'Meet the Supplier' week.  A great chance to spend some time with other producers and chat to customers about our yummy cheese.

I whizzed in to Borough Market on Thursday to see Joe (and grab a delicious quick lunch!) before heading off to sunny Balham for a rather nice cheese and wine evening as a guest of Linear London.  LL design and fit the most stylish kitchens and bathrooms and the setting for the evening was just wonderful.

Elephant Bakehouse from Streatham brought their amazing award-winning bread and Julia from The Wine Tasting Shop in Balham introduced everyone to some delicious wine.

Our lovely friend Sal whipped up some scrummylicious hors d'oeuvres made with our goatie curd and they proved to be very popular.

And I took the opportunity to spread out a few of our new batch of kid skins and take some pics ready for loading on to the web pages..

Markets were great yesterday and everyone was out enjoying the sunshine!

Goaties have been very happy the past few days as they have been able to get outside again after the hideous weather early in the week.  This was the view from the milking parlour on Tuesday morning..

But, eventually, the sun came out and there was a bit of synchronised sunbathing going on outside the barn. For some reason Cassie, Twinkle and Tinky decided to stand in a line with their front feet up on a ledge ... Who knows why!

The kids we left with their mums are really getting big now.  And much naughtier.  This is what happens at the end of milking when most of the adults have gone through the parlour and the kids are left with the whole barn to themselves.

But, it has to be said, some of the adults are equally naughty .. This is Tiffany trying to get more food out of the bucket which is on the parlour floor.  She should be on her way out down the ramp!

And finally ... thought you might like to see a pic of our oldest goatie.  Tammy is now well over 12 years old and still looks great.  Touch wood, she is still as fit as a fiddle and still gives us a bit of milk occasionally although her kidding days are now over.  I think she looks pretty good for a 'geriatric' goat!

Sunday 20 September 2015

Masses of milk ..

What a week!  We seem to have been bottling milk constantly this week as there has been so much going on every day .. I just added it all up and we have done a grand total of 863 pints this week.

 Not bad for a few old goaties :-).  That doesn't include all the milk that has gone for cheesemaking, by the way ..

And, just out of interest, we don't have a fancy bottling plant or anything .. every single bottle is filled and labelled by hand.  Oh yes indeed ... low tech!  Lovingly and carefully bottled, mostly by yours truly but Dairy Fairy Julie had a bit of marathon session this week, as did Dairy Fairy Joe.  Well done chaps!

And, talking of bottling, you will be pleased to know that we survived our routine Environmental Health visit earlier this week.  The lovely ladies from Maidstone and Swale Borough Councils braved the pouring rain and farmyard mudbath to trot along and inspect us closely.  Seems that we are behaving ourselves!

The goatie girls have spent much of their time indoors this week as the weather has been so disgusting.  And even when it dried out a little bit, they were still reluctant to get their feet wet.  One evening during milking they were all just standing about outside, not wanting to go out in their field.  I suggested to David that he should open up the gate to the other field to see if that would tempt them outside .. after all, a field with a closed gate is much more interesting than a field with an open gate!

So, here we go ... the noise in the background is the milking parlour running.

And finally ... our lovely Marlin has been appearing quite a lot on various Twitter feeds:

She is one of triplets - Mora, Marlin and Margot.  All over 9 years old now and still in the herd.  They came from our friend Mary as tiny kids many years ago and have produced masses of milk between them over the years.  Tonight they all came into the parlour together, one after the other, and so I had to take a picture for the 'old goat' album!

Shame they were all too busy eating to look up for the camera!

Saturday 12 September 2015

Colourful markets and demanding old goats

Tell you what .. it's getting rather chilly and very dark when I get out of bed these days!  And so it was up to the dairy for the customary early morning start to pack up all the goatie goodies into cool boxes ready for our Saturday markets.  Joe arrived at 5.30 to load up for Borough and, having waved him off on his way, I loaded my van up ready for a day at Balham.

Today I had the pleasure of being next to Brambletye Fruit Farm - a wonderful biodynamic farm in Sussex.  They have the most wonderful fruit and veg and probably the best eggs in the world.  The stall is always really colourful and today it was made even better by the display of edible flowers .. fantastic!

On our stall, I was thrilled to have our delicious kid meat back on sale again after a short absence.

We only have a limited number of meat boys and we used them all up rather quickly last year due to increased demand.  This year's kids were not quite ready and so we had to take a break from the meat for a couple of months.  But we should now be able to keep ourselves going again for a while!

It was a steady day at both markets which are starting to get back to normal after all the summer holidays.  Sadly, the traffic is also getting back to normal .. and it took me quite a while to fight my way back to Kent through the various extra traffic lights and road works on the way.

David was already milking when I arrived back at the farm, but seemed to be distracted by Footsie goat who kept demanding to have her head rubbed ... She could quite happily do this for hours!

Thursday 10 September 2015

Life goes on ..

So a week has passed since we lost our lovely Daramac and Hugo seems to be settling down without his friend.  He is now 'head boy' above Fenn and Clark, so he is busy keeping everyone in their place.  He is very patient with all the youngsters and his sons all seem to love their dad!  Anita captured Hugo and Daramac a couple of weeks ago, all settled down with their babies around them:

And here is Hugo enjoying his morning hay with some of his young sons earlier this week:

It does seem rather strange in the boys' house without my huge white boy around.  But, life goes on ..

Hop picking season has started in earnest here in Kent and I am fortunate enough to live right opposite one of the few remaining hop gardens in the county.  The hops are just beautiful this year ..

Every night I can see the glow in the oast house and hear the low roar of the diesel engine that runs all the drying machines.  Only another week to go and then virtually all the hops will have been picked and packed.

Goaties have been enjoying the gorgeous weather this week, although they were a bit reluctant to get their little goatie toes wet in the morning dew this morning.

There was lots of standing about ... And not much else!

Thursday 3 September 2015

Hugo loses a friend

Bathed in sunlight and with best friend Hugo nearby, our handsome Daramac slipped away to the big goatshed in the sky yesterday afternoon.  He had been suffering with bad arthritis in his front legs for some time but over the past week or so, his poor old back legs had also started to get worse and he was spending more and more time lying down or on his knees.  Although eating well and still very much the 'head boy' it was clear that things were not going to improve and, with colder weather approaching, we decided that it was time to say goodbye.

He was over 5 years old which is a pretty respectable age for a working male.  And boy, has he worked!!  Daramac has sired more of our kids than any other male we have had, so his memory lives on in the many beautiful daughters that he has left behind.

He came to us as a young kid from an organic, biodynamic herd in Sussex.  

His mum was black and white (hence some of the coloured kids that he produced) and, at the time, was one of the highest producing milking goats in the country.  I went and collected him with our friend Mary and he actually spent the first few months living at Mary's to keep her young male company.  But when Gus died, Daramac came back to us and quickly fitted in with the other boys.

He grew quickly but, despite his size, was always slightly nervous of people.  But he was a bit of a mummy's boy and he also loved his Goatie Auntie Anita.

On his hind legs he was much taller than me (and I'm no midget at 5ft 10!) and, as you see, loved to get treats to eat.

Several of his sons have gone on to work as stud boys in some of the big West Country goat herds and so his genes are spread far and wide in the UK dairy industry.

Here he is with a couple of his young sons last year ..

And of course, his most famous son was our Handsome Humps, young Humphrey goat who spent much time on our blogging pages ..

He was a beautiful giant of a goat who stank beyond belief when he was working!  But he was always his mummy's boy and I loved him dearly.

RIP Daramac my handsome boy.  Hugo and the boys will miss you.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Lovely weather for moving cows ..

Well, what a lovely weather we had this weekend!  Bucketed down with rain and turned everything to mud.  Perfect for moving cows around!

Yes indeed, the Gracie Moos have moved down the road to another field which had lots of lovely green grass just waiting for them to arrive.  Neil the bull was collected by the real farmer Neil and has gone back home for a rest after working hard (we hope!) for the last few weeks.  The Gracies were then moved in stages to their new field and only when everyone had arrived did they start to skip about.  Then it was 'heads down' to the serious business of eating all that luscious pasture ..

Meanwhile, the goaties have been staying firmly indoors, munching their way through endless bales of hay and haylage while the rain came thundering down ..

And it's apple season!  Old goats Betty and Wilma were thrilled to find a bucket of windfalls in the parlour tonight, all chopped up and ready to go!  

I am pleased to report that our 'hospital' pen of special needs babies is almost now obsolete. I have just two little chaps left who require that extra bit of tlc every day.  They really enjoy their bottle of milk each morning ..

And this year's prize for the most ridiculous ears has to go to this little chap ..

Ready for take-off!