Saturday 28 May 2016

In a previous life ..

Those of you who follow our Twitter feed may be a little confused to have seen this pic arrive in the last couple of days ..

Are we squandering your hard-earned cash on sponsoring a race car??!!!

Fear not ... this beautiful beastie is now the proud possession of our dear friend Andrew.  An extremely talented graphic designer based near Huddersfield, Andrew is the guru behind our logo and all our artwork.  Those of you who come to our markets will have seen the wonderful banner that we use as a backdrop for our stall ...

Many years ago BG (before goats), our very own David was a rather talented racing driver and that blue and yellow car was his pride and joy - an MG Midget with a very powerful engine and some rather wicked design features.  He raced it to victory many times at race circuits around the UK and was the Halfords Midget Champion.

A few years later, he built another car and we used to spend several weekends a year racing at some of the most famous and amazing race circuits in Europe.  For those of  you unfamiliar with the background to Ellie's Dairy, this is how it all began ... One rather drunken night in Assen, David promised that he would buy me a goat if he won the European Championship.

And then this happened ..

Three times actually ... So that was Betty, Wilma and Ellie!

David claims not to remember ever saying anything about goats .. but fortunately, I had witnesses.

But for many years now, the goaties have been our life and there has been no time (or money!) to indulge ourselves in frivolous activites like racing cars!  David also has a bit of a dodgy old back now as well ... may have something to do with hitting a concrete wall at over 100mph while racing at Le Mans ...

So, one race car was sold and the other has just been gathering dust in the grain store ..

Earlier this year, Andrew took it away with a view to getting it back on the track again ... And this week we had our first glimpse of the reincarnated beast ...  And doesn't she look amazing!

First outing at the annual MG meeting at Silverstone next weekend.  Sadly, we won't be able to go and watch but I am sure that Andrew will uphold our honour and do everyone proud.  So, Andrew, we all wish you the best of luck.  And as David would say - keep it on the black stuff and what's behind doesn't matter.  Enjoy!!

Thursday 26 May 2016

Those we have loved .. and lost ...

Kidding season puts a huge strain on humans and animals alike and, although it is a fabulous time of year for new life and beautiful babies, there are also the inevitable losses.  Every goat is precious to us - they are all individuals and every single one has a name.  Every death is keenly felt and it always leaves another small goatie-shaped hole in the herd.

As we started our herd 12 years ago, some of our ladies are getting a little older and more frail and so it is not entirely unexpected that we will start to lose more of them.  But, in my own tiny mind, goaties should live forever .. and so every passing brings great sadness, especially for those we have loved for many years.

We have already blogged about our lovely Alice and her sad passing ... This season we have also lost our dear Oopsie (she with the enormous udder):

Maisea - Earth Mother and adopted mum of little Rubbish (remember him?)

Laurel - one of younger and more naughty goats.  Entirely unexpected and very sad

Maggie - David's favourite goat and a real sweetie.  It seemed that her wish was to have her two babies, see them grow for a couple of days and then say goodbye.  She literally just lay down and died.

Thelma - one of our oldest girls.  Thelma and her friend Daphne joined us as kids right at the very beginning of our herd.

Chickweed - another older lady.  She joined us many years ago as a companion for her friend Cilene (mum to our dear Beamish)

But the major loss this season was our dear old Wilma goat.

 Regular followers may recall that she had been very poorly a couple of years ago but had rallied round and was doing rather well.  In the end, it was her dodgy old heart that gave up.  She was fine in the morning but took ill in the afternoon, grew weaker by the evening and died in my arms around 9pm that night.  We were at the back of the barn under the big hayrack, and all the other goats just left us alone in peace.  It was a heart-breaking night.

Unknown to me, her sister Betty was standing nearby and, when Wilma had gone, she walked over to nuzzle her and say goodbye.  It is always really important to us to make sure that a sister or special friend is taken to see a dead goat.  They are fully aware of what is going on and they need to have the chance to say their own farewell.  Those people who think we are silly and sentimental have never known the true nature of an animal .. they have emotions and feelings just like us.  Their feelings need to be respected and it is always very moving to see.

Farewell my beautiful girls.  I hope that you are all together again in a lush green field where the sun always shines in goatie heaven!


Wednesday 25 May 2016

Babies move house!

Cleo and Gilly are neighbours in the kidding pens.  And it would seem that Cleo's dinky little people like to sneak through the fence at night.  When I arrived in the barn this morning, I did my usual early morning walk round to make sure that everyone was alive and well ... and found this going on in Gilly's house:

Cleo's little Nubians all snuggled up in the corner next to Gilly's babies ..

As you see, Gilly was quite happy with this new arrangement.  Cleo, however, was not .. standing up on the gate shouting for her babies to come back home.  Poor Cleo!

This afternoon we hosted a visit from Hadlow College agriculture students.  A small group of enthusiastic students spent a couple of hours with us, chatting to the goats and learning a little about how the dairy works.

Some of them climbed in with the babies to have a little 'goat therapy' .. Here's Matt talking to some of our younger babies:

Most of them were also game for trying our delicious raw milk .. And it went down rather well!

Friday 20 May 2016

Kidding season draws to a close

Two blogs in two days!  Can you believe it ...

Well, Cleo hung on to her babies until a very respectable time of the morning as we were milking.  Interestingly, her mum JoJo stood guard whilst she was in labour and wouldn't let any of the other goats near her ..  Here you see Margot (the white goat) trying to have a look at the babies.  JoJo will have none of it!

 Cleo had two little females .. one is a little Mini-Me.  Spitting image of mum and grandmum!  The other little diddly one is a lovely brown colour.  Mum and babies doing fine!

Not to be outdone, Gilly then started off as well!  About a week early .. I think she just wanted to get rid of that enormous udder!  So, one female and one male for Gilly.

Needless to say, those two are faced with a bit of challenge to feed off mum so some human assistance is required (and a strong pair of hands!)

So, that's it for this year.  Unless anyone has a surprise up their sleeve ... Kidding season is officially over!

One more night in the caravan so I can keep an eye on the new arrivals .. and then back home tomorrow.  Marmite cat will be pleased!

Thursday 19 May 2016

Welcome back!

Welcome back to the land of goatie blogging!

It's been a while eh?  As the dust starts to settle and sleep is no longer just a distant memory, I am hoping that I will find time to write our blog once again.

What can I say?  It's been a tough kidding season this year for many reasons that I won't bore  you with.  But in a nutshell - an 'abortion storm' early in the season brought us the sadness of several early losses (for reasons which the vets still cannot advise), a number of our older ladies passing on (more about those in another blog as they all deserve to be remembered), dairy fairy Julie with a knee replacement (still recovering) and young Joe with a very sudden and serious illness (now back, almost fighting fit!) ... Lots of new babies to deal with, all that lovely fresh milk coming back on stream and tons of cheese to be made and packed .. and sold.  It's been a slog but hopefully we are coming out the other end!

As I write, we have just two girlies left to have their babies and then the season is over for another year.  Gilly still has over a week to go but is struggling with the most enormous udder.  We are wondering if we can construct some kind of goatie bra to take the strain off her back .. Dolly Parton, eat your heart out!

The babies seem to grow so quickly and the first lot went off to their new home in Hereford earlier this week to join many of our other goaties already living with Andrew and Diane.

Always sad to see those little faces peering out of the side!  David made it there in good time and reported that all the girls came skipping out of the trailer quite happily at the other end.

Shares, our gate-jumping goat, had two little chaps a couple of weeks ago.  Not usually the maternal type, for some reason she has decided that she does not want to be parted from her babies this year.  We returned her to the milking herd as usual after a few days with them but she kept on leaping over the gates to go and find them.  She refused to stay in .. And so, we moved the little chaps back in with her and the rest of the herd ..

She is a very attentive mum but happily wanders off and leaves them behind from time to time.  Several other goats have taken it upon themselves to babysit until she returns.  Minnie, Ladybird and Serena check that the babies are safe and follow them round to make sure that they don't get up to any mischief.  And sometimes, Milly just settles down next to them and everyone has a little nap!

Most of our babies this year were sired by young Fenn, but the last few belong to our dear Hugo and so we have a selection of those wonderful ears again .. Here's two of the latest beauties ..

The big man himself has just been taking it really easy.  He has put on quite a bit of weight recently and has taken to sitting on his bottom like a dog from time to time!

Very attractive!

And so it's time for me to return to my little caravan outside the goat shed for another night.  Cleo looks like she may be thinking about having babies so it could be a long night .. or she may just hold everything in for David to deal with over the weekend while I am out at markets!