Today was a day for not only bidding farewell to the old, but especially ringing in the new;
the old being removal of the final vestiges of our original milking parlour, with the new being not only our modernised setup but also the arrival of five new (albeit temporary) residents of our ‘Caprine Hilton’.
Tony was again up early & after dragging myself up & out of bed to furnish him with a tasty breakfast of eggs & bacon, I tackled the washing up & helped with the chores whilst he continued with the other miscellany of work in the Kidding Shed, having set up a new working area in the relocated parlour.
Although by this time I really had succumbed to the dreaded virus & was feeling absolutely rotten with a banging headache, blocked sinuses & shiveringly aching to the core I continued work, carrying out the important task of carefully checking through our comprehensive veterinary medicine chest to confirm we have all the essential supplies required for lambing & kidding; I’ve decided to do this earlier than last year so that not only are we fully prepared for any unexpected new arrivals, we also don’t join the general stampede to raid the shelves of the local farmers’ shops & then find we’re ‘caught short’ in terms of lack of essential items. Thankfully it would appear the only things we’re lacking are new aerosols of umbilical spray & foot spray (the girls all have a nice pedicure post pregnancy; we don’t like to do their feet during the later stages though as it would be uncomfortable for them). Then came the laborous job of restocking the cabinet in its’ new location – & making a mental note of where I’d put everything so that should there be an emergency I can immediately locate anything I need (last year I couldn’t find the lubrication gel during one awkward lambing – ironically, I found the missing gel today – only ten months too late!).
Whilst Tony finished dusting & sweeping the newly-cleaned pens I went into the house to do some tidying & cleaning in preparation for our visitors, as well as compiling a formal contract outlining prospective loan terms for the goats. Whilst we’re the ones caring for the goats on ‘loan’ (their owners are moving to Portugal & of course want to ensure everything is ready for their animals’ safe arrival – but until they’ve sold their UK property they don’t quite know when this will be) & normally the livestock owners would themselves set out the terms of an agreement, past experience has informed us that it’s a good idea to make sure that a formal contract between everyone involved has been drawn up so that all parties know exactly where they stand & are happy that everything is completely fair.
Then it was time to move our 2007 female babies from out of the stable they’ve shared for the last few months & into a vacant pen in the main Kidding Shed along with everyone else.
The new goats – five lovely British Toggenburg & Herd Book caprines dubbed Tango, Thistle, Pudding, Babe & Brian – arrived after their long journey from ambrosial Devonshire at around 3pm; & were immediately offloaded from their trailer & tucked up safely together in their new pen, much to the inevitable curiosity & excitement of the rest of the residents!
Once safely installed & with troughs full of their own hay & water from their old home (goats can be prone to travelling stress so to minimize the disturbance we tend to keep them on their own rations for a while to help balance their sensitive rumens) we all retired to the house for a much-needed, warming cuppa & to go through the usual raft-load of paperwork which took quite a while; so unfortunately Kay & John had to return to Devon to see to their horses & sadly could not tarry for the meal I’d cooked. But it was lovely to meet them; & we do hope they’ll come to visit their caprine friends again, soon.
After they’d departed we returned to the pens to check that everyone was well & happy; & they were all contentedly munching their hay. We gave everyone their supper & finished off the rest of the chores, before turning out the lights on another busy day – the last, of 2007.
By this time we were both so jaded & weary, & feeling so ‘knocked for six’ by the virus, that we reluctantly had to admit defeat & it was with a heavy heart that I had to ‘phone Boo to tell her we would not be able to make it to Maes Y Derw for their New Year’s party. Instead, we sat quietly in the house listening out for fireworks; & this year there was quite a substantial display a couple of valleys, away – so we did our usual torchlight patrol & checked all the animals were not unduly disturbed by the noise & flashes. Thankfully there were no casualties this year, although the ponies certainly seemed relieved to see us. After that we retired indoors & found it hilarious to discover that this evening’s TV entertainment was in fact…..Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”! Although we assumed it must be a training video on how to look after our new goaty pal & resident wether male, Brian, it turned out to be nothing to do with those of the caprine kind; as ever though, a well-loved, classic comedy.
We finally popped that champagne cork to see in what was in fact our first New Year here together, on the Ffarm; & with the fireworks blazing out from the London Eye, we toasted with great happiness & anticipation what we hope will be a very exciting & wonderful 2008…….