The Colour Purple

Purple, purple everywhere; yet not a mo’ to think……

ahhh indeedy, today passed in a heliotrope haze; from the moment I sleepily pulled on my magenta sweater; to the sun rising over the old, grass-banked walls where delicate mauve clusters of wild primrose flowers peep shyly from between their vivacious yellow cousins; to the unfearling of the glossy amethyst petals of pouting plump crocus blooms beneath the silvered apple boughs bending low in the orchard. 

Up early as ever, I persuaded Tony to join me after a restorative cup of strong, milky tea; as help persuading the kids to feed at this early stage in our new routine, is much appreciated.  Next came Day Two in the Milking Parlour for the new girls; & although a couple of them still required a fair bit of persuasion to take to the stands, it was certainly less of a battering, exhausting trial than yesterday.  

After cleaning the parlour & all the equipment we finished the rest of the chores; then Tony caught a hogget whom I’d noticed had split an ear by somehow managing to rip out his tag in the hay trough during the night – it appeared to have bled quite heavily & although it’d scabbed over, evidently would still benefit from treatment.  The young wether was having none of it, however; & in his wriggles & struggles we both got liberally spattered with bright purple ‘Septi-cleanse’ spray.

 Having completed this messy but necessary task I did my regular ewe count; & noticed to my consternation that our favourite girl – Jelly – was missing.  Summoning Tony I hurried down the steep slippery slope to the furtherst corner of the field, where I had an inkling I’d find her.  And I was right: there she was, tucked in against the hedgerow, evidently thinking about going into labour.  We gently encouraged her back up the hill & into the lambing shed to enable her to give birth in peace & comfort. 

Thankfully where Jelly’s concerned, if you waggle a feed scoop in front of her she doesn’t take much persuasion; although at one point she did have second thoughts & it was only Tony’s bravely determined rugby tackle that halted her – although he did end up skidding several metres down the hill in sitting position on his backside, legs outstretched, heels digging furiously into the wet grass for purchase whilst clinging for grim death onto Jelly’s ample woolly rump (a manoeuvre any Welsh boy would be proud of…& err, Tony’s Welsh… hmmm, I’ll have to watch him around that ewe from now on…!).  But the muddy tracks he left in the grass, would have made a Western horse proud; such was the magnificence of his sliding stop.

With Jelly safely tucked up in the adjacent pen to Headcase & Crosswort, peacefully munching hay as if she had no cares in the world, we popped into the farmhouse for some breakfast.  After making a much-needed cuppa Tony trudged back out to the lambing shed to check on Jelly whilst I cooked – then the intercom trilled, with a surprised Tony advising me she’d already given birth to a ewe lamb!  Having checked mum & baby were fine Tony came back in, convinced there were no more lambs on the way as she was looking decidedly hollow.  However on going out to spray the lamb’s umbilical cord after breakfast he discovered that she had already sneakily popped out her second – a ram lamb; with both in good health & already up & suckling, & Jelly with her head characteristically stuffed greedily in a bucket of grub.

At Tony’s request I unearthed the heat lamp we normally use for rearing young poultry; it has a ceramic bulb so although it proved expensive we’re far happier using it unattended, as it’s safer both in terms of fire prevention & from shattering, than a conventional bulb would be.  Tony wanted to set up a ‘warm room’ in a corner of the kids’ stable, with the intention of penning them up to give them some much-needed comfort; as the threat of plummeting temperatures & possibly even snow, overnight was gloomily forecast.  Meanwhile I cleared out the forward haystore in preparation for the next load in between further bottle-feeds & monitoring of all our little charges.

By the time evening chores & milking were underway, we discovered that Anthemis – our last goat from stud male Merson’s Phase One matings – had kidded, whilst I’d been sorting out the sheep & Tony was feeding the kids. It must have been a remarkably quick & easy birth; & thankfully she’d had twin girls, Brythonwen & Buddug (pronounced Bithig) – the latter given the Celtic form of the name of the indomitable Queen of the Iceni; as by morning the poor creature already looked as though she’d been in the wars with Mum cleaning her delicate little ears so vigorously that she actually bit into one & drew blood!

And then Aloe – the One-Horned Wonder – managed to somehow knock off said headpiece just as we were abut to start milking (probably through scrapping, knowing her); which of course sent fountains of blood spurting everywhere…. However whilst the first time it happened (to Merson, incidentally) it had been so alarming that we’d put out an emergency call to the vet, convinced the bawling goat was going to die; after a few other incidents we learned how to calmly deal with the problem ourselves, dreadful & frightening though it always looks initially.  I recall when one poor little kid knocked off a horn bud & by the time we’d stemmed the flow looked like an extra for the movie ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (I assume anyway – having never watched it as I cannot stand even mildly violent films to be honest).  

So back to ‘bleeding’ Aloe – it was out with the trusty little pot of Potassium Permanganate crystals…& with Tony holding her steady, I carefully shook them over the bloody stump to stem the flow, which incidentally it does very effectively after only a few seconds (unless, I suspect, if you’ve hit an artery in which case I’d say you’re in a spot more trouble…).  And Aloe shook her head as of course the poor girl didn’t like the sensation – liberally scattering me with showers of wet, violaceous crystals.  Urgh.  I was so glad I’d put on a fresh, clean, unmarked sweater to work in, this evening.

Respraying all the newborn navels – both lambs & kids, as inevitably the mums had licked all the spray off after I’d applied it – I got even more liberally soaked in purple spray as the wretched nozzles on not one but two umbilical spray cans, clogged up & wept the cheerfully bright, plum-coloured liquid absolutely everywhere whilst stubbornly refusing to actually come out of the aperture & physically spray any (darn) thing.

So purple ended up on hands, faces, clothing, bath towels, tea towels, furniture….in fact everywhere, it seemed, but on the parts of the goats, kids, lambs & hogget that I wanted it to be!  I was beginning to see red, or is that – ???!  Aargh, don’t say it.

Exhausted by the end of what was a very long & eventful day, I crawled upstairs to bed where an already slumbering Tony was snoring peacefully from deep beneath the duvet.  Carefully, by the muted amber glow of the bedside lamp, I gingerly prodded the myriad new bruises I’d accumulated during the day’s extertions….to find they were already turning a lovely dark shade of purple


About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Animals, Anything Goes, Diary, Farming, Goats, Humour, Life, Livestock, March 2008, Nature, Sheep, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

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