Another busy day, on the Ffarm:
and Yet More Kids (of which more later). I was rudely awoken in the wee small hours, by yells coming from the Baby Monitor. Not, however, of a goat giving birth; but of a lost kid. And it was to be the first of many Great Escapes, that night…..
Even though they’re only a few hours old, Bedwyr & Barti are already proving to be real characters. First Barti, having worked out how to use his legs, managed to carry out a successful ‘jail break’; scampering around the main pen in the middle of the night & bawling for mum at the top of his lungs. Fortunately the other goats ignored him; & woken by the commotion coming from the monitor, I managed to hurry down to the pen & scoop up the little scamp, returning him safely to bed before any harm was done whilst attempting to block up the tiny hole through which he’d exited.
And then it was Bedwyr’s turn. A couple of hours later he too was bombing round & round the main pen, bouncing on & off disgruntled, sleepy goats as he tried to locate his mother & get her to join in his game. However as Tony wasn’t woken by the kerfuffle (then again he never is) I again came to the naughty boy’s aid & put him back in the pen before dragging Tony out of bed to Do Something About It, shoring up the impossibly narrow gaps between hurdles & walls through which the little devils had absconded.
I must say Bedwyr is one of the handsomest kids, I’ve ever seen; lovely conformation, a tempting milk chocolate colour & with absolutely perfect markings, he really will be a star one day. And they’re adorable when they are this tiny; moleskin-soft coats, neat little ears & bright, inquisitive eyes; they’re fearless in exploration & enthusiastic in endless play. And they are exquisite when they curl up together for a quick snooze; before leaping up again & trying to surf on Mum’s back while she patiently attempts to ignore them & eat her dinner.
After reinforcing the pen’s defences against the marauding kids we busied ourselves with the chores, short of time today as a consultant was coming to discuss our requirements for the internal goat housing in the new Dairy Complex. As with everything on this build, we are anxious to get it right first time as not only can we not afford expensive mistakes; we want our goats to be as comfortable as possible. So we’d brought in an expert to advise us on the best way to organise things in order that large groups of livestock could easily be moved, single-handedly; that pens could be cleaned out using a tractor rather than by hand; & that the most efficient system of feed troughs & hayracks was employed taking into account optimum browsing heights etc.
However, just before Neil arrived, I noticed that one of the pregnant girls was getting restless; although to my surprise it was Aralia – a nervous little goat whose original Toggenburg genes show strongly in her shorter stature, prominent beard & luxuriantly hairy back (oh how attractive that sounds, on a young lady!). To be honest we were almost at the point of employing our foetal doppler to check she actually was pregnant, as she didn’t look at all broad in the beam as do the others; so I assumed Merson had covered her later, & she’d be due at the end of the month at the earliest. But her udders suddenly inflated overnight & now she was definitely showing signs of labour pains, although of course being the skittishest of skittish lasses she didn’t want to be handled; so we left her to find her own ‘spot’ before quietly going in to monitor her progress.
And as so often happens, at the eleventh hour as she was straining to push out the first kid, she turned to me for comfort, calling & licking my hands as I gently stroked her in encouragement; thereafter she’d prove a good mother & far less nervous with us, tractable to the point of being even obliging. It seems that in their moment of need when we present that first kid to the exhausted goat, they appreciate our calm help in their pain & fear of the unknown; which forms a bond of trust between us that they never forget – truly magical.
And so from going into labour at 1030am, the first kid – a little girl, whom we’ve named Branwen – was born with no complications after only twenty minutes; with her brother Bran born another twenty minutes after that. In fact little Branwen amazed us as only two minutes after being born she was already determinedly trying to stand up; & by the time her dam had popped out the second kid she was staggering around in search of the milk bar. She greedily guzzled the proffered bottle; & then promptly helped herself to more from her mum! And her little brother wasn’t far behind, either.
During the melee Neil – the agricultural fixed equipment specialist – had arrived; so I assumed the role of caprine midwife whilst Tony showed him around, close on hand in case help was required. Once I’d settled the little family with the usual protocols I returned to the cottage to join in the discussions; & after a fair bit of work we were very pleased with the provisional layout – now it’s just the thorny question of affording it!
Meanwhile a neighbour popped in to have a look at the new building; after which it was time for the next round of chores, checks & cooings-over the new kids, who were already learning how to annoy their mum as much as possible! I decided to cook Tony a simple supper as inevitably if I attemped anything involved, something would occur to reduce the meal to a blackened mush at the bottom of the pan; so I rustled up a plump, juicy grilled swordfish steak served on a bed of tender, peppery little speckled green lentils with a few sautéd leeks, some wild rocket leaves & a rich tomato & red onion reduction – not only did it it look impressive, it tasted spectacular, too – just going to show that the simplest dishes can often be the most rewarding.
We clinked our cuppas, satisfyingly exhausted after another eventful day’s kidding around on the Ffarm.