….And so, occasionally, do their owners!
This afternoon there was a gathering of the South West Wales Goat Club, held on member Judy’s lovely smallholding situated in the hills above St Dogmaels & overlooking picturesque Cardigan Bay. A poster in the local Farmers’ Co-op had advertised the open afternoon; & we were very keen to attend as whilst we are of course members of the British Goat Society it’s proved difficult to find an active goat keepers’ group, nearby. There is the Welsh & Marches Goat Society; however their meetings are unfortunately generally held too far away for us to attend. So we decided to take the plunge & indulge in a rare afternoon out – but with the opportunity to meet with like-minded folk at last.
We experienced a rare snatch of summer with blue skies & warm sunshine, therefore the demonstration was held outside. As we managed to lose our way in the maze of narrow, twisting country lanes we missed the first part of the meeting; however we did catch a very interesting & informative tutorial on injecting & worming caprines – with a warning to drench for liver fluke as it’s been such a horrendously wet summer (apparently it’s officially the wettest on record, with a staggering 40% more that the average expected rainfall). There was some uncertainty as to whether goats require one or two doses of BTV vaccine: one was recommended although I’ve spoken to three vets now on the subject, all of whom have advised us that a course of two vaccinations is preferable – vets & experienced goat keepers alike, generally follow the principle of administering medicines to goats as you would for cattle & NOT for sheep. Interestingly one of the exceptions to this rule is in the use of the wormer, Eprinex Pour-On: use double the recommended dose for cattle. Another point to note with regard to the BTV vaccine is that it is not recommended that clostridial vaccines such as Lambivac or Heptavac are used in conjunction with it; as there is uncertainty regarding how the two vaccinations might react to one another & could cause damage to the animal concerned.
There then followed a demonstration on foot trimming, modelled by one of Judy’s lovely Toggenburg goats. The need to trim the rear of the foot more than you would for sheep, was stressed; & there was an interesting debate as to whether the levelling of the foot should be finished off using a hoof knife (however none of the attendees, did – nor have we ever done so).
After the demonstration & once the goats had been safely returned to their pen, tea & cakes were served; & we donated a Napoli of ‘Simplicty’ gelato which we served in our lovely Welsh Dragon-branded cones – just the ticket for a warm summer’s afternoon. We’d brought along the ‘Simplicity’ to demonstrate that goats’ milk ice cream doesn’t taste at all “goaty” (‘Simplicity’ is our purest type, consisting of only goats’ milk, cream, sugar & egg yolk so for the sceptics there’s absolutely nothing which could potentially ‘mask’ any caprine tang). However of course, today we were rather preaching to the converted! But there were a few people present who drink goats’ milk as they suffer from dairy intolerance & so were especially delighted to have a rare treat of genuine ice cream – & of course we were delighted when they returned for second helpings!
As the Dairy Complex is now open for business we’ve agreed to host January’s meeting on the farm to show people around & explain how we designed the goats’ accommodation, & why. It would’ve been nice to have hosted a Spring meeting; however by that time we’ll be right in the thick of kidding, & of course up to our eyeballs in crafting the gelato for St David’s Day & the Easter market. January is our quiet time…if there is such a thing, these days…!
On our way home we popped in to visit the beautiful ruined Abbey at St Dogmaels, which has just opened a stunning new Visitor Centre. Unfortunately it was closing time so we missed being able to wander through the Abbey grounds; we’ll have to leave that for another day. But it was a beautiful evening; & driving home the view across Poppett Sands with the sunlight dancing on the dazzling azure sea in which Cardigan Island seemed to float like an ethereal jewel, was a memory to treasure.
We’d like to thank the members of the South West Wales Goat Club for extending us such a warm welcome; & especial thanks to Judy, Diana & co for their kind hospitality – we look forward to seeing everyone here on the Ffarm, in January.