Oh, What a Night….

Please Note:

Today’s Open Afternoon visit for the South West Wales Goat Club unfortunately had to be CANCELLED. 

This was due to the fact that a Severe Weather Warning was issued for the neighbourhood, with a forecast of gale force winds gusting 80-90mph accompanied by torrential rain.  So yesterday evening, after long discussions with several members of the Club, the regrettable but necessary decision to postpone the event was made.

The day broke with tranquil blue skies & the sun casting soft golden rays over the valley; & I felt extremely disappointed that it appeared the forecasters had got things wrong & we’d cancelled the event for nothing – especially as Tony & I had put in so much hard work preparing for the event (although as he was flying today I would’ve been ‘singing solo’ anyway). 

The first visitors were due to arrive at midday; but all was quiet so I assumed that the message of the cancellation had successfully been passed around.  However, whilst emptying sacks of feed into the big metal bins in Dairy Complex (& not exactly dressed in my best) the first vehicle soon trundled carefully down the driveway. 

Anxious not to disappoint visitors who had clearly travelled a fair distance for the event, I offered a ‘consolation’ guided tour of the Dairy Complex.  During the visit to the Milking Parlour yet more guests arrived; so in the end I was occupied for a good couple of hours.  However, it was lovely to have such interested visitors; & all-in-all it was a thoroughly agreeable (if bitterly cold) afternoon.

As we walked around the facilities the clouds piled in; & the wind stirred with increasingly threatening unease.  As the last of the visitors departed it was growing decidedly gusty; & I anxiously abandoned my feed bin filling & instead conducted a hasty ‘health check’ of the farm to ensure that everything was safe & secure. 

It was just as well that I did; for within the hour the wind was roaring like a lion around the buildings.  I scuttled out to give my charges an early supper, providing plenty of extra hay (for goats, sheep & ponies) & corn (for poultry) to ensure everyone’s digestive systems would continue to function comfortably throughout my potentially prolonged absence. 

An abrupt crash on the roof of the Dairy Complex sent both me & the goats scattering in alarm; however on tentative investigation I was relieved to discover that only a smallish beech branch from one of our two massive, ancient trees had been hurled onto the roof, clattering noisily downwards (hooray – more much-needed kindling!). 

Having closed all the livestock housing doors & checked the ponies (already in a field with high hedges for protection against the weather but also no trees) I thankfully shut myself in our warm cottage with a sigh of relief,  just as the icy rain started to sting with a vengeance. 

And yet, even with all my care, I watched in dismay as some of our sturdy wooden garden chairs were picked up as if by an invisible giant hand & hurled towards the veg patch (thankfully missing the duck house en route), the slats smashed to matchwood. 

Domestic animals & humans alike, forgot their cat-&-dog differences; & huddled together with storm-fearful solace in front of the woodburner’s welcome warmth, a feeble attempt to shut out the wild weather outside.  Oh, what a night….

"What do you mean, cancelled...?!"

Vine: "What do you mean, cancelled...?!"

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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, Dairy, Diary, Environment, Farming, Food, Goats, Ice Cream, January 2009, Life, Livestock, Local Area, Local Produce, Locality, Nature, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Oh, What a Night….

  1. okathleen says:

    You’ve got to be kidding!
    http://www.okathleen.wordpress.com

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Ho ho ho!!

    Alas, no we’re not kidding (the girls will be doing that for us hopefully, in March!); everyone locally is now preparing to weather the storm, especially with what’s to come on Monday…..yah boo hiss.

  3. Ah, and she obviously just had her nails done…

  4. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Indeedy she had, HDR!

    Actually several people who hadn’t got the message regarding the cancellation, did turn up; not wishing to disappoint those who had travelled a fair distance I gave them a guided tour.

    By the time they’d left the weather was getting decidedly blustery; & I hurried through the rest of the chores in preparation for the storm. And sure enough, just after 2.30pm it did get worse….& raged on for a good few hours.

    Thankfully so far I haven’t found any major damage here on the ffarm; however I certainly would have worried about anyone who’d had to travel back across the mountains towards Pembroke, so I think we were wise to postpone the meeting, after all.

    It is a real shame though, as I’d prepared an interesting programme; & had made sure I had plenty of drinks, snacks & cakes for our guests. We were also going to do a major tasting session with the ice cream….but hey, the bitter cold was only exacerbated by the wind & by the time I’d finished the tour we were all freezing; so hopefully by doing something a little later in the year, the whole thing will be more enjoyable for everyone, anyway.

  5. paula says:

    I never knew the storm was coming – too preoccupied – arrived home to find the house full of smoke…no not a fire, well not really, the woodburner was belching smoke and flames out of every orifice, smoke alarms shrilling, eyes and lungs suffering. Nothing we could do but wait, stopped after a couple of long hours, now house is wreathed in a black greasy film and stinks! Otherwise only a few branches down – snow yesterday!

  6. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    My sympathies, Paula:

    our wheezy old Rayburn coked-&-choked up, last Winter; so our house is still darkened with the heady clouds of disgusting, oily soot from when she finally belched what we then assumed would be her last.

    So fear not; we grimly (or is that grimily?!) keep telling ourselves, that said soot helps to enhance the ‘olde-worlde’ atmosphere of ‘rustic charm’…!

    Thankfully being the faithful stalwart ‘Old Fat-Arse’ is, this formidable kitchen matron has – remarkably – been fully resurrected, & looks – & cooks – better than ever; but then it takes a helluva lot I suspect, to finally extinguish a cast iron stove…!

    Her remarkable makeover has been achieved with expert assistance from our artistic slate-carving friend, Jez; who not only completely rebuilt the “Old Gal’s” chimney (which as it turns out had not merely been obstructed by slops of cowboy builders’ concrete in the 80’s; but also had her external chimney access hatch – which had for some unfathomable reason been completely sealed – painstakingly reinstated, this time INSIDE the house!) but he also added a gorgeous new hand-carved Welsh Slate surround to hide where tiles needed to be chipped away for the installation of the new kitchen stack.

    Since then we’ve also been ably assisted by our venerable Rayburn engineer, Iori – who appears in the blink of a Dragon’s eye & somehow always comes up with not only effective but also highly innovative stove-fixing solutions, to any seemingly insurmountable problems.

    And although now in a seniority which challenges many of his cast-iron clients this fine, dapper chap still puts us ‘youngsters’ to shame when dancing the night away at the local Country & Western ‘Twmpath’ every Saturday evening (& it has to be said, frequently into the wee small hours of Sunday morning!).

    Meanwhile we thankfully lost only the odd branch – well OK, tree; but nothing-I-can’t-cope-with down here, during Saturday’s storms. There was snow here this morning too but far less (thankfully) than was originally forecast.

    It may look pretty; but I suspect that folks who simply think it means a day off from the office & don’t have diverse livestock spread over many acres to care for, realise just what a challenge/threat, it can actually be!

    Keep warm & well, dear friend. And I truly hope we can get together next time you’re in Carmarthenshire…albeit I sincerely pray, it’s under far happier circumstances than your last visit.

  7. So what do you do with all the milk from the goats (sorry if this is a REALLY dumb question)? And, any suggestions as to how to breed my gals? I think one of them is in heat, and I’ve just located a buck. I’ve never done this before. Advice appreciated.

    cheers,

    HDR

  8. LittleFfarm Dairy says:

    Hiya HDR –

    it’s planned the milk from our goats will all go into crafting our lovely gelato; although if we do get an excess we will use it (in the first instance) to rear kids; for home consumption & for cheesemaking; alternatively I could sell it to a local cheesemaker or another local goats’ milk goods producer as there is a high demand(although I might have a dabble at making soap this year).

    However we may end up with a surplus, at least initially. As ours are well bred dairy goats, they produce pretty high yields. Because at present we are having to work from Food Centre Wales whilst we establish our own on-farm premises but can only use FCW’s facilities for 2 days per week, we simply will not have the capacity to work with the amount of milk the girls can produce. It’s very frustrating but we’re hoping to rectify this unfortunate situation, ASAP – especially now the orders are flooding in.

    Regarding breeding, goats are usually quite clear about when they’re in season. They’ll generally be a lot more argumentative & may squabble amongst themselves; also there will be a lot of circling & tail-wagging going on (very typical behaviour) plus the vulva will appear more red & swollen than usual. Also they do sometimes mount one another, an additional telltale signal.

    If she’s in season you will need to either get her to your chosen male or vice versa, pronto. The male will either be led to the female or sometimes they’ll simply be turned away together whilst you go off for a discreet cuppa; we find this the most uncomplicated & relaxed method. Also the male can mate her several times, as necessary. It’s worth remembering that as a rule they do not ‘take’ on the first day of heat, anyway.

    If the mating has been unsuccessful she will come back into season in another three weeks. If I’m milking our ladies I tend to pop our senior boy (Merson) in with the girls just after the breakfast milking up until lunchtime; then remove him to avoid any potential for milk taint (& to give the girls a break!). The males can spray themselves with musk during the mating season; & some can get quite, errr, pungent.

    As your goats aren’t milking you could always ask the male’s owner whether s/he’ll let you leave your girls with him for a few weeks, & pay livery as well as the stud fee (remember to take some feed & hay for your goats if you do so though, in order not to upset their rumens through too swift & radical a change to their diet).

    If the male is valuable I doubt their owner would allow him to come to you for any length of time; nor would I recommend it if you have no prior experience of handling a stud male goat as they can be at their most volatile during the breeding season (even little guys like yours can pack a whack!). Also it’s worth checking the health status of the male – & ensuring yours are likewise clear of any potential STDs (yes goats do get ’em…!).

    As a final point to note I’m not sure during which months the breeding season falls in your part of the world – & it does also differ quite markedly between breeds of goat – but I’d advise getting her ‘seen to’ sooner rather than later, or you might miss the caprine boat for this year.

    But follow these guidelines & hopefully you should be assured of a happy & successful pygmy pregnancy – & then the real fun begins….!!

    Hope that answers your questions – & don’t worry, there’s no such thing as a daft one (although I’m sre during my time I’ve asked loads!).

    I’ve been snowed in for almost a week with the usual rubbish of shovelling, chores, burst pipes, shovelling, chores, floods, shovelling, chores, collapsed guttering etc etc so haven’t been able to post on the Blog as a bit too busy; but will hopefully catch up in the next few days & will start to post up pics of our ladies as their pregnancies progress so you’ll get a step-by-step guide in advance of your wee ‘uns popping out anything. Let the games commence….& good luck!

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