Thursday 22 September 2016

There's a new boy in town

As the evenings draw in and the temperature starts to drop, those goatie eyelashes start to flutter and those little goatie tails are starting to wag.  Yes, dear readers, mating season is almost upon us once again.  The air will soon be filled with the unmistakeable aroma of male goats in season and there will be much gobbling noise and flapping of tongues!  Don't believe me? Well, when it all kicks off, I shall be sure to take a little video for your enjoyment.

Our main problem this year was our lack of male goats .. we have two little stud boys in waiting, Magellan and Ivanhoe, but they are far too tiny to work with our stroppy old milkers yet.  Of course, we have our big old Hugo but he has been busy for the past few years and is just kept on now for a few very special long-eared ladies!

As the years pass, there are fewer and fewer pedigree breeders around and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good male goats.  But, with some persistence (and a lot of luck!) I have found a lovely brown boy - from the same breeder as our dear Fenn.

So, today I whizzed up to Cambridgeshire and picked up our new boy ... Hilton.

As I pulled into the farm, I think the girls must have been able to smell him as there was suddenly a great deal of interest in my direction ..

He will need a few days to settle in, so he he has his own house round the corner near to the other kids and the other side of a gate to the milkers.  As you see, it didn't take him long to spot all those lovely ladies!

 He is a lovely young chap and seems very keen to start work!

Saturday 17 September 2016

Back in the land of blogging!!!

Well, it's been a while but here we are again!

It's been a good few weeks of long solo evening milking sessions for me while David has been frantically hedgecutting, trying to keep ahead of the farmers harvesting and re-sowing their crops.  To be honest .. by the time I've been getting home at night, I haven't had the wits to string two decent words together for you ..

Added to the fact that my trusty old laptop crashed .. terminally ... some weeks ago.  I have commandeered David's laptop but have had to rebuild it with all the software that I need.  And then discovered that it didn't have an internal Bluetooth adapter .. so I couldn't transfer my photos onto it.  And, let's face it .. what's the point of blogging without piccies?!

Anyhow ... having dredged my old IT memory banks and remembered how to do all this stuff, I think I am almost there and now have an (almost) working laptop again.  Hurrah!

So, here we go!!

The last few weeks have been utterly glorious .. if a little too hot in places.  There has been a lot of lying around panting, although some girls do enjoy catching some rays after morning milking .. Here's Campie soaking up the sunshine!

But generally, those goatie girls don't like it too warm and have been pretty grumpy recently.  Much happier when the weather cooled down ..but then it rained and they were grumpy again.  No pleasing some people.

Babies are growing bigger and noisier every day.  Only a few left on bottles of milk now as most of them are all weaned and grown up.

Cheesemaking and milk bottling has all continued apace ... It has been lovely to have all our staff back fighting fit and working hard!  We have been busy at Borough Market and all our farmers markets throughout the summer ... and it's really nice to see all our customers returning refreshed from their holidays!

Sadly, we have lost 3 of our older ladies over the past few weeks.  As time goes on, we have an increasing number of 'oldies' and so it is inevitable that we will have to say goodbye to more of them .. But it never gets any easier, especially when they are girlies we have known and loved for many years.

So .. RIP to our beautiful Foxglove (one of our first goaties) who left us recently, aged 11 years ..  Here she is as a younger mum a few years ago.  Beautiful girl.  We think she had some kind of stroke as we found her collapsed and unable to stand one evening.  Emergency call to the vet confirmed that there was nothing to be done and so she drifted off to the big goatshed in the sky.

And last week we said a planned goodbye to Margot and Kim who were both getting very unsteady on their feet.  Both around 11 years old, they have suffered with arthritis since last year and were starting to struggle a little bit.  With the cold and damp weather just around the corner, we took the tough decision to send them to sleep before they suffered too much pain.  Our lovely vet Peter sent them away together side by side on a beautiful hot sunny day, surrounded by all their friends.

Kim was a particularly sweet girl - she came to us as the eldest of the 'Mary' goats only a few years ago.  She was barely in milk when she arrived and has never kidded with us .. she was just a beautiful, loveable old lady who has enjoyed her last few years in retirement.

As David finished our own harvest some weeks ago, he also managed to acquire a few bales of pea straw.  The girls have never experienced this before so, as it can be a bit messy, David decided to erect one of the old round hay racks in the field and put a bale in there for the goats to try ...  Took a few minutes before they all piled out there .. but it seemed to be very popular with everyone!

Shares has been looking after her young chaps very well and they have grown hugely since you last saw them ..

Dear old Betty is still going strong .. grumpy as ever ..

And we still enjoy seeing double as Cleo hangs out with mum JoJo ..

 And finally .. managed to snap a rather lovely pic of Gilly as she was waiting patiently to come into the milking parlour yesterday ...

Don't forget that you can always catch little updates and piccies on Twitter (when we can get a mobile signal!).  Check out our feed @elliesdairy.

So, it's lovely to be back.  I will do my best to keep you up to date with all the goatie news from now on!

Night all ..