An up-&-down, busy sort of day…..
….which began abruptly, at a quarter past midnight when odd sounds emanated from the Baby Monitor – a goat was evidently in the process of kidding! My first thought was that the only goat due to kid today, was Froggie: who last year had endured such a difficult, traumatic & painful labour owing (apparently) to her narrow hips, that it couldn’t possibly be her as this madam was not making an iota of the fuss which she typically does. However, to our suprise, it was indeed her; so poor Tony was scarce out of his work uniform, having just returned from Damascus before it was time to roll up our sleeves & attend to Froggie’s exertions.
But by the time we reached her, she’d already popped out a sweet little female kid, with thankfully no more to follow; however, she seemed just as surprised as we were; & subsequently showed no interest in her little one whatsoever, making no attempt to clean her despite our best efforts just wanting her due bucket of warm, molassed water & extra ‘munchies’; so we left her to it & quietly took the kid into the house to sort her out.
Frog kidded last year just after Wolfie did, on our wedding anniversary; fortuitiously also St David’s Day; & after Wolfie’s apparently effortless exertions & perfect, twin boy-&-girl kids, we were delighted – as these were the first-ever kids born here to our foundation herd. However our joy was short-lived when Frog went into an horrendous labour. Some time after 3am we managed to stagger to bed, exhausted, after having to assist in two excruciatingly difficult births.
Mind you, whilst dear Froggie really is also ‘two sandwiches short of a picnic’ her two kids more than made up for her apparent lack of brain; she didn’t like them, didn’t want to feed them – but they would literally lead her a merry dance – taking it in turn to goad her whilst the other one would grab a nifty drink from the milk bar; whilst the other would quickly swap over before she realised what was going on!
However, her lack of interest in her kids; plus her problematic self-suckling; plus being a ‘poor doer’ means her future as a professional milking goat, has to be under question. She does produce a reasonable amount of milk overall – certainly ample for an average household plus some to spare for cheese or yogurt-making, or whatever; but to be honest she’d be better off living on her own, as she is always being picked on by the other goats & just doesn’t cope. And alas, she really is aptly nickamed as she truly is, ‘mad as a box of frogs’. So I suspect that if anyone wanted a house goat, she’ll be up for grabs before long….& despite her quirkiness, she really is a lovely-natured girl with an extraordinarily diverse vocabulary, for a goat! I’d certainly miss her.
We retired to the house cradling the confused, wet little kid; & as is becoming routine took her up to the bedroom, placed her gently on a vetbed in front of the fire, after which we dried her off, treated her navel & made sure she got a goodly dose of colostrum which Froggie had generously donated in her daughter’s cause. So (once again, thank you Frog) somewhere between 2am & 3am, we tumbled exhaustedly into bed for a couple of hours…
I carried out most of the morning’s work whilst Tony slept in after his eventful day, yesterday; after which he joined me for the fun job of introducing some recently-lambed ewes (plus Allspice, who will kill herself I’m sure, if I leave her in any longer) back in with the rest of the flock. It’s always fun to watch the new lambs meeting their friends, & tearing round the field for the first time, leaping & tumbling as their long, springy back legs keep on overtaking the front ones!
However despite this apparent pastoral idyll, it seems the Grim Reaper is never too far away; imagine my dismay when doing the rounds to check the wethers & ram, when I discovered that Bogbean hadn’t made it through the night, having died after getting tangled in the brambles yesterday, beneath one of the massive beech trees below Caravan Corner. Perhaps he just didn’t venture back to the water trough as I’d hoped he would….? He had certainly appeared fine when I’d checked on him at twilight yesterday evening, & none the worse for wear after his ordeal. Dehydration; delayed shock – who knows? Suffice to say however he was stiff as a board when I found him – but completely untouched by night-time scavengers, thank goodness.
In the afternoon Tony wrapped him in sealed plastic sacks & bundled the sad little corpse into the back of the truck to take him to the incinerator, at a remote place high up over in the mountains – & the gloomy heap onto which he was added, shows the untimely toll of sheep farming (& especially at lambing time) in this area. Such a needless death is upsetting & frustrating even with the cold comfort that as I check them regularly & had already hacked back what I thought were the ‘threatening’ parts of the hedge, there was nothing else I could have done. But there it is…..
So a day of birth, death, sunshine & showers – all part of farming life’s rich pattern.