“Wow! Today I get to visit famous people!”
The Dutch vet perched his glasses on the end of his nose, & gazed at us with quizzical amusement. “I was leafing through the pages of ‘The Observer’ magazine yesterday, & who should I see…? Great publicity!” He enthused.
“Well, you’re in for even more of a treat today then, ” I smiled. “It’s our official christening of the Dairy Complex – the Milkforce have moved in, at long last.”
“Fantastic!” Wim scooped up a handful of syringes for the Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) tests he was about to conduct for our Guest Goats, & strode purposefully into the pristine new building. And it looks fabulous, even more so now that the ladies have taken up residence. All these weeks, months, years even; of planning, working, striving, saving….& finally, the Dairy Complex rings with the cheery calls of happy, healthy milking goats.
Having carried out the tests, Wim paused to contemplate his veterinary charges. “They’re in great health; a credit to you,” he observed. I could have burst with pride. He’d already exclaimed with delight about the Complex: a golden-coloured, sturdy & ecologically-friendly wooden building being both healthy for livestock & with good ventilation & temperature control – cool in summer; warm in winter – unlike steel, which can, alas, prove to be the opposite. But the goats evidently already love it. Airy, light & roomy, there are hay & browse stations; a separate ‘breakfast bar’; & the (we’ll see) allegedly goat-proof cast iron drinkers provide a flow of fresh, clear water for our thirsty Milkforce. Even the height of the bowls has been carefully calculated to allow the ‘average’ goat (if there is such a lass) to comfortably take a long, watery swig whilst also unable to empty her bowel into said bowl – which has proved a problem in the past. And refilling & carrying 15-20 large aluminium water buckets every hour or so soon proves less of a joking bellyache than a nagging backache when you’re doing it from 05:30am to 11:30pm each day, seven days per week, 365 days per year…..ouch. My ‘tennis elbow’ (not that I’ve ever played!) certainly suffered with the constant strain, which left me less able for other tasks.
So whilst we still have Merson & Co (our handsome Stud Male & his largely impotent ‘lackies’ : eunuch guest Brian, barren resident Virginia along with a couple of other “give-’em-yet-another-chance-as-we’re-so-v-v-soft” girls who unfortunately didn’t kid this year, now moved into the Kidding Shed along with the Hooligans (last year’s female kids, who occupy the bottom pen which has a lovely view of the mountains) with buckets to top up, the change in workload is already significant. And once the milking parlour is fully operational we’ll doubtless notice the difference even more…..
…..because tomorrow will without doubt, be our most challenging so far: the day we teach the girls the new parlour routine. Since moving here, they’ve only ever lived in the Kidding Shed; so today’s move, although conducted carefully, calmly & two goats at a time was doubtless stressful enough.