It’s been an eventful day.
After a morning’s farming & the usual gloomy round of paperwork we headed out to Crosshands, to attend the business launch of Castell Howell Foods’ new distribution hub. We went along in the hope of being able to speak to someone regarding delivery of our cheese to save us the additional, burdensome expense of leasing or buying our own vehicle (at least for the time being); however it transpired to be more a showcase for the producers who retail their produce via Castell Howell, than a viewing of the new premises. So apart from a disposable sanitary products stand catching our eye (we need mundane but necessary items such as soap, paper towel & loo roll dispensers etc), there wasn’t really anything to catch our eye; so we departed, somewhat disappointed at not achieving the aim of our visit.
Next on the cards was our inaugural meeting with our local Environmental Health Officer, with whom we’d discussed our processing plans in principal but which had not thus far been examined in more significant depth. Tony was enormously relieved to discover she was not only satisfied with the qualifications we’ve mindfully achieved; but also approved his outline design of our Dairy Complex, which he’d spent so much painstaking time compiling (I can’t quantify it in terms of hours, days, weeks or months – as it’s been loads, loads & loads more still). So after a very rewarding meeting, we headed for home, which was just as well…..
The evening was initally peaceable enough; with the usual round of chores & the dreaded but necessary catching-up-on-paperwork. After supper, lack of sleep owing to the eternally lively loudness of the (watch-this-space) Kidding Pen’s baby monitor & Tony’s relentless, rip-roaring snoring slipped me into a much-needed slumber…..
I was gently startled from semi-somnolent oblivion by the melodious notes of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’; at first I couldn’t fathom their etherial source. Their increasing volume & incessant urgency however, implied I might like to stumble, bleary-eyed & weary, down to the goats’ cosy barn. Tony’s abrupt call for help confirmed my asumption: Anchusa – or Koo, as her name has inevitably been shortened to, was starting to go into labour; Tony had heard the telltale straining sounds on the baby monitor & thought he’d better check what was happening. The other maidens in the pen, were completely unconcerned; so we gently guided the groaning goat to a well-strawed, comfortable corner & let her get on with it. Having gone into labour at around 9.45pm, her first kid – a little boy – was born at 10.10pm; followed by his brother 25 minutes later.
Both boys were standing within fifteen minutes of birth; so I took a little colostrum from Koo to give the boys their first feed via the bottle, as this makes them much easier to hand-rear once they’re taken from their mums. Also, we can be certain any waxy teat plugs have cleared; & that the babies have definitely had a measure of that vital first milk. Koo manwhile was given a bucket of warm, molassed water to quench her thirst after all her exhuastive efforts (there’s a sink supplying hot & cold running water in the kidding barn – a ‘luxury’ which I now wouldn’t want to be without). Once we were satisfied that all was well – the boys had been cleaned off so we’d been able to spray their navels with an umbilical-protecting iodine solution, & they’d found their way to the ‘milk bar’ successfully – we headed back to the house for a celebratory cuppa.
So croeso, little Cariadfach Bedwyr & BartiDdu! Bedwyr – a beautifully-marked, very correct little male the colour of high-quality milk chocolate, is dubbed with the Welsh version of the name of one of King Arthur’s Knights, Sir Bedivere; whilst BartiDdu – almost black, his coat is so dark & a solidly-built, stocky chap – is the soubriquet of the notorious Pembrokeshire pirate Balck Bart or Bartholomew Roberts, who terrorised the high seas during the early 1700s.
Sadly, being boys, it’s hard to predict what their future will be. Last year we’d had high hopes for our boys as we bought the very best foundation herd to ensure the offspring are all top-quality, pedigree stock; however whilst some found homes the majority, sadly, had to – ahem – ‘go to work in a swanky London restaurant’ owing to the export bans imposed by the Foot-&-Mouth (FMD), & Bluetongue (BTV), outbreaks. The market was subsequently saturated with males of equally salubrious background but from older, more established herds; so as the breeding season arrived we had to do something – especially when one young male escaped & got in with his sisters as even at only four months of age, male kids are remarkably sexually precocious. So they had to go…..
Ironically of course, the ‘phone didn’t stop ringing thereafter with people belatedly wanting young males – but we’d had to something; & thus is the oft all-too-bitter pill of farming which we have to swallow. So ironically a Government-originated FMD outbreak forced us not only to have some of our precious, carefully-reared livestock slaughtered; it probably cost us around £1800 in lost revenue, as well. But we won’t get a penny, of course….more indirect & therefore unaccounted victims of the outbreak.
After all that excitement, after a much-needed mug of steaming, smoky lapsang souchong tea I completed the necessary records of the births, satisfied that the boys were tucked up in their lovely snug straw beds; & collapsed into our own lovely warm bed, hopeful of sleep; any sleeeeeep……