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 .. 









Thursday, 21 July 2016

Babies safely delivered!

The hottest day of the year was forecast for Tuesday - exactly the same day that I was due to take the second and final lot of kids to their new home in Herefordshire.  David had also intended to come with me but reluctantly decided to stay behind to make the most of the good weather and get the rest of the hay baled.  When the sunshine comes, you have to get harvesting!

Initially, we had reckoned on me leaving around 6am so that I would be with Andrew and Diane by lunchtime.  But the hotter the forecast got, the earlier my departure time became!

And so, around 2.30am on Tuesday morning, the babies were woken up in the darkness and gently loaded into a trailer.  There was great excitement as we set off and all the little heads poked out of the side to see what was going on!

Sunrise was somewhere around the M40 and we finally reached our destination just after 8am as the temperature was beginning to rise ..


We unloaded them all into their great big new house ..


And they were soon tucking into their breakfast and investigating the new spaces under the hay rack!



They settled down very quickly and looked like they had been there for ages!

These girlies (and 2 stud boys) are very lucky people to live on this farm as they will be well looked after, along with all the other goaties that we have taken there over the past couple of years.

It was fantastic to see their massive new barns and see how all our little girlies have grown into lovely big milking goaties.


 

The girls are all very well looked after and Andrew cuts fresh grass for them all every morning ..


It is such a beautiful place .. would love to live there myself!


Saturday, 9 July 2016

A day out with the Rackers ..

This week saw our annual visit to Rackspace Green Fayre near Hayes to see all those hardworking teccies.  We set up in our usual space on the grass ..



One of the Rackers, Els, had brought two of her lovely chickens along as well.  They were really happy scratching around on that perfectly manicured grass!


I had taken our 4 youngest babies out for the day.  They were a little nervous at first but soon came trotting out of the trailer to explore the big wide world ..


It didn't take long for people to start coming to visit and soon there were bottles of milk being handed out ..


Some people just loved to get close to those cute little people!


But the excitement was all too much and eventually everyone collapsed in a heap .. and they slept all the way home!

 
Oh .. and congratulations Serena! From someone who was named after you ...







Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A race to beat the weather

Keep calm, it's only harvest season!!  When tempers flare, engines roar and bales are stacked higher and higher around the farm ... Today was no exception as the weather forecast did not bode well and, with two fields mown, David was getting nervous about getting everything done in time.

A bright sunny morning gave way to fog and drizzle.  But it soon cleared and David managed to get one field baled.  Phew!

But, with storms forecast to hit around 9pm, the bales needed to be wrapped and the other field was still down.  I started the evening milking as David prepared for a marathon session .. He managed to get the wrapping done fairly quickly and then moved round to the other field near to the parlour where I was able to keep an eye on progress as I did battle with unruly goats.

So, at 6.20pm the race was on!  


Off he went to rake the grass into rows ready for baling ..


With the sky still blue, the rows were ready ..


The goaties were gathered outside the parlour to watch what was going on:


And Cilla was particularly anxious - standing up on the gate ..


A quick change of outfit for the tractor .. and the baler appeared in the field, gobbling up the rows of grass ..


7.30pm and the sky was still blue.  But in the distance, the storm clouds were gathering ..


Goaties were getting increasingly nervous .. after all, this would be their food for the winter ..


The best view was up on the mountain ..


But they needn't have worried .. Baling was complete at 8.40pm .... David jumped out of one tractor and into the other one and set off with the wrapper in tow ..


The light started to change ...
 

And as the clouds gathered and raindrops started to fall slowly, the last bale was wrapped!


Hurrah!!!  Well done David!


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Husky the ornamental goat

Frequent visitors to our little blog will recall many posts about our dear Husky goat.


We have followed her antics since she was a baby, through her stroppy goatling year (remember us having to quarantine her to stop her jumping in with all the boys?!) and then as a responsible parent to Monkey and her siblings.

Although she is a valued milking member of the herd, she is also something of a special goat and everyone at Ellie's Dairy has a bit of a soft spot for her.  And boy, does she play on the attention!

But our dear Husky has had a traumatic few months and, now she is safely out of trouble, I thought it was about time to tell you the tale ..

Husky kidded in early March and had 2 beautiful little chaps


But, a few days after kidding, Husky fell seriously ill and we had to fight to save her.  After a couple of horrendous days, we pulled her through but she was left with a very nasty gangrenous mastitis in one side of her udder.  Things did not look promising .. we have seen this only twice before and, in both cases, we have lost the goat.

I won't dwell on the details but it's all pretty nasty - basically, a large part of the udder turns black and cold.  Then it dies off and falls away.  We called our lovely vet Peter in to help us make the decision - should we continue to fight or would it be kinder to send Husky to goatie heaven?

Totally impartial, Peter said that he thought it was worth fighting for her.  Smiles all round from us and the vet students who had all been expecting the worst!

So, we carried on ... a lot of care and attention was lavished on Husky.  Bucket loads of special lavender and olive oil cream carefully applied by a succession of vet students, endless cleaning and checking, constant monitoring and lots and lots of bananas!!  We also decided to leave the boys with her for company and to keep her stimulated.  Also, as one side of her udder was perfect and full of milk, it was better to let the boys feed rather than put her through the trauma of having to be milked twice a day.

And so, as the udder progressed through this stage (the blue colour is anti-bacterial spray, lavishly applied by David!):


Eventually, it all dried up and fell off.  Imagine my surprise when I found this in the straw early one morning!


And, a couple of months later, everything has completely healed and Husky's rear view now looks something like this ...



A perfectly formed half an udder!!

But we have decided that once the boys are weaned, she will be dried off and will never be put in kid again.  She will retire from milking and will become a purely ornamental goat!  And we are certain that Husky will be very happy with this arrangement as she will never have to work again!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Who feels silly now then?!

As we have already seen, Shares likes to bring her little chaps into the parlour for their meals.


They generally wait by the wheelbarrow while she goes up the ramp to be milked (not that she has any spare milk for us - she gives it all to the boys!).  Growing in confidence every day, they are starting to get a little more naughty ..

So, tonight, they were skipping about near the wheelbarrow when this happened:


Oops ... 'beached whale' springs to mind!

We were laughing so much I could hardly keep the camera still!  



Completely stranded, he had to be rescued by a human .. How very undignified!

Fortunately, it was only his pride that was injured .. and he skipped off quite happily with his brother!