Thursday 19 January 2017

Spiced tea and Ivanhoe's hairdo

Well, it's been rather a glorious week for goaties!  Hard frost and sub-zero temperatures have meant that all that horrid wet ground and squishy mud has gone hard ... great for little goatie feet!  And so, for the first time in ages, most of the herd went running outside yesterday morning to enjoy the winter sunshine.

Plenty of people in the field..

Some playing up their mountain ..

While others took advantage of the peace in the barn to tuck into that delicious haylage..

A bale of pea straw ..

Or the freshly scattered barley straw ..

So much choice!  No wonder there were a lot of fat goatie bellies tonight!

Our oldest lady, Tammy, often trots round to the back of the milking parlour hoping to be let in and given a treat.  Like many of the older girls, she is very partial to the odd banana but lately she has taken a liking to spiced black tea for some reason.  She has tried to help herself to my cuppa on several occasions and I have lost a couple of nice mugs as she brought them crashing to the floor.

So, this morning when she started hunting round for her morning brew, I made her a mug of her own. Nothing like warm spiced tea on a cold January morning ..

David has been away at a farming machinery show for a couple of days, so I have been milking solo in the evenings.  On the whole, the girls were pretty well behaved, but there was the odd naughty person who took full advantage of a single human.

The empty stall has been vacated by a naughty goat who jumped off ... So, only natural that the girl next door has to check out if there is any food left over ..

Finally, I would like to introduce one of our little stud-boys-in-waiting .. Ivanhoe.

We decided that we would keep 2 youngsters this year - Ivanhoe and Magellan.  They are growing well and hopefully will be ready to work next year with our lovely Hilton.  Ivanhoe was quite nervous to start with but, as you see, he is now very friendly and keen to come across and see you.  He has quite an interesting hairdo going on .. I need to get a good photo of it .. Sadly easier said than done!

Friday 13 January 2017

A night of weather

Well the weather certainly came in with a vengeance last night!  Part way through evening milking the snow began falling quite gently .. and then within minutes we had a raging blizzard. Unsurprisingly, those goatie girls were very reluctant to go outside and milking did become a bit of a battle towards the end.  Once out of the parlour, the girls have to run up the outside of the barn (very briefly) to get back inside .. not happy.

Inside the barn, the snow was blowing in and there was a lot of consternation and ear-pointing going on .. As David and I battled to shut all the doors, block gaps and clear drifts, the goats gradually settled down into their cosy beds for the night ahead.

Fortunately, it did not last more than a couple of hours.  Sadly for David, it did not last long enough to warrant getting the snow plough going ... Which was a shame as we have a brand new shiny (and bigger) one this winter ..

This morning was very icy and driving up to the farm was interesting to say the least .. even with 4 wheel drive!  As the sun rose, the fields glistened and it was all rather pretty:

And I just love all those little footprints around in the fresh snow.  Looks like the rabbits were busy picking up little bits of barley last night!

Our two new arrivals, Lara and Zenobia are bravely venturing into the parlour every day now.  Lured in with buckets of food, they are happy to stand and eat while everyone else is being milked ..  Notice how they are careful to place those enormous ears outside the bucket!

Some girls continue to find the whole milking experience too much like hard work and just prefer to stay asleep as long as possible before they have to come into the parlour.  Coco goat curls up next to her much naughtier sister Beanie while they wait until almost the very end of the session ..

And for those of you who have been missing Husky in action .. she still prefers to drink her water straight from the tap ..

And, back for the winter, the Gracie Moos are content in their yard.  Oodles of lovely barley straw and fresh hay .. beats standing in a field in the cold and snow!

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Happy New Year!

And a very Happy 2017 to all our readers!

I trust that everyone had a wonderful festive season and New Year ... Life continued much as normal here at Ellie's Dairy - the goaties don't stop producing that delicious milk, so their humans don't get a chance to stop either!  But it is a little less hectic for a week or so, once all the Christmas cheese chaos is out of the way.

Christmas morning was much like any other morning ..

As always, the Ellie's Dairy team worked their little goatie socks off for several weeks to make sure that we had as much delicious cheese as possible for all our customers. Joe and Julie worked particularly hard and were both absolutely exhausted by the time we all drove home on Christmas Eve .... Julie also made a couple of guest appearances at Borough Market with Joe:

Whilst I was entertaining the lovely Phil the Elf ..

And yes, I am bending down!!

Borough looked wonderful as usual with decorations and twinkly lights .. all very festive!

As our milk is seriously limited this time of year, we did run pretty low on some things .. As I always say, when I am Queen, I will move Christmas to around June or July when we have loads of milk and unlimited cheese!  But the stall looked wonderful and I think we put on a great show for all our customers

The Borough Market Evening of Cheese was unbelievably busy.  Joe and I struggled to keep up with customers and we used our entire weekly stock of cheese in less than 3 hours!  Apparently, the event made the national papers and came in for some criticism as so many people had attended.  I think that next year, things will be considerably different!

I spent a happy Boxing Day making more cheese ... a table full of Shaggy's Beard camembert and bags of fresh curd draining ready for the weekend ..

Enough about cheese!!  What about the goaties?

Well, just before Christmas, we adopted a couple of lovely Anglo-Nubian girls.  Meet Lara (lying down) and Zenobia:

Big and beautiful and pretty stroppy!  They came from a lovely old goatkeeper near Canterbury who is sadly suffering with dementia and is now not able to look after her goats any longer.  It is the same place where our big chap Hugo came from a couple of years ago.

These two lovelies spent a couple of weeks in their own pen, meeting all our other goaties through the fence .. and then we let them loose into the main herd.  We need not have worried - they are more than capable of standing up for themselves!

Having only ever lived in a very small, quiet goat shed, our herd is a bit of shock to the system and they are still quite nervous of us.  But, they are getting gradually more trusting and now appear at the parlour gate at milking time.  Lara has been brave enough to come in a couple of times but Zenobia is still not too sure about things.

Chaos still reigns at milking time and I do wonder about my sanity sometimes ... One particular night had Shares standing in a bucket while Husky was drinking water from a tap behind her ..

It's all just like a circus ..  Where the goats all just do their own thing and the humans have no control!  But at least they are happy and that's all that matters.

The end of the year also sees me sitting down to bring all my goatie paperwork up to date .. and it's always a sad task to flick through all the 'pink slips' for our dear girls and boys who have passed away to that big goatshed in the sky.  We have lost quite a number of our older ladies and I have a feeling that 2017 will also bring some sadness .. but, as our herd gets older, it is only to be expected.  I have already given Tammy (14) and Betty (13) a serious talking to ... they are not allowed to get ill and they have to live forever.  So that's all sorted!

Having moved the Gracie Moos back to the farm for the winter, the front field is now empty and so David spent a happy time yesterday ploughing it all up ready for reseeding.  He thoroughly enjoyed himself and did a pretty good job of ploughing, even though it is not something he does very often.  Here's a little clip of the man at work ..

And so, on we go into 2017 .. We have a few projects in the pipeline and hope to bring a few more new products to you this year.  Fingers crossed and watch this space!