Baling Out

Cheeky Chaps - easy to see how accidents happen.

Cheeky Chaps - easy to see how accidents happen.

Whilst it didn’t start raining here again until late afternoon,

I have still – alas – been baling out.  But not water (thank goodness!)…. 

The day started with a raw, cold feel & inhospitably strong North-West winds although we were at least blessed with a tremulously clear, watercolour-blue horizon.  I was debating whether to turn the sheep back out when the clouds began to crowd the skies with their grey-befuddled huddle; & soon miserable curtains of misty rain were sweeping across the valley once more.  So, rather safe-than-sorry I left said sheep cuddled up again, indoors….albeit they’re using up precious bedding & extra feedstuff that I really could do with reserving for any more immediate emergency.  However: my decision – my responsibility; & whilst Camilla’s little lamb is much improved it would appear that Daffodil has overdosed on Jelly’s rich milk & is scouring (i.e. has a nasty case of diarrhoea).  And as she’s the smallest-of-small lambs, I will not take any risks – for her tiny sake.

The day passed relatively quietly, for a change; thus it was a chance to catch up on the usual sinking raftload paperwork interspersed with an entirely different-but-complimentary raftload of bottle-feeds, milking, checking-up etc.  Nobody lambed; nobody kidded.  All seemed to be benignly peaceful, until….

Heading into the Dairy Complex to do the early-evening hay feed, I became aware of a muffled but distinctly-panicked bleat.  

I paused. 

Where on earth had this emergency call, come from…?  I just couldn’t work it out. 

All the (goat) kids appeared to be still enjoying their collective siesta, cuddled up in sleepy heaps either in the Mums’ Pen (where they were meant to be) or dotted in various nooks & crannies about the wider ranges of the Dairy Complex (where they weren’t).  Doing my utmost not to disturb the sleepy kids I commenced a thorough search of the building. 

Another muffled bleat. 

I was mystified.   

And then it dawned on me…..surely not, though?  A kid couldn’t possibly have managed to get stuck behind the sturdy stack of humungous-&-impossible-to-move-by-hand (& I-don’t-have-a-Manitou…!) giant square hay bales, on which they love to play….?   Or perhaps, I’m wrong??

Oh, dear. 

Grabbing our powerful torch (a perfect Christmas gift from Mum & Dad) & clambering with considerably less grace than a gazelle (or even a goat kid) onto the bale stack, I eased myself to the far edge & shone the searchlight’s bright beam down into the gap.  Sure enough I could just make out a pathetic little chocolate, white-tipped, floppy-eared form, firmly wedged between wall & bale.  Actually it looked quite cosy in there; however by this time the little lad had missed a feed, was evidently missing his Mum & his mates, & was generally feeling pretty sorry for himself.  

Offering soft words of encouragement I lay down & crawled on my belly as far over as I could, reaching down into the abyss.  He was, evidently, well-&-truly stuck.  With difficulty I managed to ease my hand beneath the delicate ribcage, & gently lifted the tiny chap  in such a way that I could gain a carefully firm hold of his front legs.  Having already abandoned the torch so that I had both hands free, I managed to swiftly hoist him towards me with one hand & whilst sweeping upwards, immediately support his bodyweight with the other; before slowly but surely extricating him up-&-out from the constricting bales. 

On returning thankfully to terra firma I carefully checked him over for any sign of injury.  Apart from being a little shaken – which a cuddle soon cured – he was otherwise completely unharmed; the ‘V’-shaped gap down which he’d slipped had effectively slowed his fall & of course, he’d landed in soft hay, anyway. 

Ahhh, kids: not a care in the world...

Ahhh, kids: not a care in the world...

It actually reminded me so much of my own wonderful childhood: bounding breathless with laughter along precipitous bales, stacked so high in Reg’s barn; David, Craig & Alex – all of us, enjoying such fun, such freedom, such wild happiness.  We were kids ourselves, back then; & never for a moment considered we might get injured or hurt during our daring exertions…..

Happily, there never were any accidents other than the odd bruise of course;  but then even from an early age we were all fully sensible & alert to the many dangers of farming – after all, we were well taught & well aware.  Health & Safety legislation simply didn’t exist in those halcyon hours of our well-spent youth: but would it really have been neccessary…..?  In those days we were all suitably disciplined; & were served a healthy dollop of Common Sense along with every scrumptious supper. 

And of course, we spent endless hours outdoors – rain, shine, snow or blow; never blinkered by the lure of computer games.  If I misbehaved & was sent to my room as a punishment I would weep at the frustration of not being permitted to play in the sun-soaked fields beckoning with cruel enticement, just outside my window; all I wanted was to be outside rather than stuck in my stuffy room. 

Yet these days I suspect a modern-day ‘me’ would consider the worse punishment to be sent outdoors & into the dread ‘fresh air’; rather than cosily cosseted indoors with their choice of Playstation, X-Box, flat-screen mega-plasma TV, DVD, CD, Internet, wii, IPod, plus mobile ‘phone for comfort in their misdemeanours….& that ‘gadget’ list – doubtless – goes on. 

How sad.

Nowadays, children would never be allowed to even contemplate having the freedom to play on any farm, that we did; let alone learning valuable lessons about agriculture, animals, & about working with  – let alone for – nature: Health, Safety & Paperwork simply would not allow it.  In these litigiously-troubled times, if we have customers/visitors/guests/friends & family here for even the briefest of encounters; we have to pepper the place with a plethora of bewildering Warning Signs – not to mention providing escort duties so closely monitored, that the Secret Service would be proud of our efforts.

So; after suffering the sky falling on my head the other day when an errant goat kid literally ‘dropped in’ to whet her whistle at Jo’s Milk Bar, Tony joked that we need to include in our already weighty tome of a Health-&-Safety-Brief for Visitors, that “Hard Hats Will Be Provided & Must Be Worn At All Times”. 

But has such an occurrence happened, before….?  Scouring my memory I must admit that well, actually, it has; & in fact increasingly, it does.  Some of you may remember that during those ‘halcyon’ childhood days, I was privileged to enjoy the wonderful opportunity to work with a wonderful semi-tamed kestrel whom I rescued, Saxon; however in spite of my most dedicated efforts he would as often land neatly on my head or shoulder, when called; rather than come to the fist, as initially trained. 

And then we have Silli.

Ghost-grey enigma of a Maine Coon cat, she’s an elusive spirit who – once you share your life with her – is a beautifully bittersweet one-eyed individual, whom you cannot help but fall in love with; whose unhappy ‘party trick’ is to snatch swooping swallows clean from the air; yet in the next instant she can prove so fragile, so tender….in spite of that ever-watchful glowing, gold-green jewel of a baleful eye.

Every morning, whilst I’m scrubbing the sleep from my own two eyes & clumsily attempting to brush my teeth she sits, tail twitching, imploring, on the carefully-closed loo seat in our tiny bathroom (we know what our lot, are like…!) before launching herself neatly onto my shoulder at my most-vulnerable, gum-debilitating; moment; inserting crampon-like claws into my back & snuggling, beguilingly into my neck; whilst crooning in soft tones, for her breakfast. 

Oh, how endearing…. *ahem* especially when her paws rub proverbial salt into said wounds whilst I consider the hefty number of hours before I’ll have a snatched chanced to bolt down my own breakfast – no such five-star service, no such leisurely pace.

But….

 I still wouldn’t change this life, this wonderful life.

Heartache or Headache? - Devilish little Angels....!!

Heartache or Headache? - Devilish little Angels....!!

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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, Anything Goes, Diary, Farming, Goats, Life, Livestock, March 2009, Sheep, Smallholding. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Baling Out

  1. paula says:

    That’s just a wonderful photo Jo!
    I’m so glad nothing untoward came of the little kid behind the hay bale – they are the greatest explorers aren’t they.
    You should nearly be through the kidding – or have you got a handful of hangers-on who are going to keep you on your toes for another couple of weeks yet?

    • LittleFfarm Dairy says:

      “Typically – being goats –

      we’ve got the inevitable hangers-on. Tango, Tippy & Koo look like beached whales; but as their udders aren’t doing anything yet I’m not going to hold my breath…!

      Thankfully all the first-timers have kidded (bar one, whom I suspect didn’t ‘take’ this year, which is fine; as despite being the same age as her siblings she isn’t quite as mature as them – even though our policy is that they never go to the male before 18 months of age, anyway. All of the ‘new girls’ managed to squeeze out their babies whilst I wasn’t around; & although one or two had to be taught the rudiments of motherhood the majority have proved extremely adept, thank goodness. But I’m especially proud of them as these are the first of the goats to kid that we bred, ourselves.

      Mind you I am having to bottle-feed the tiniest kid I’ve ever seen, as young Wenna gave birth prematurely; I’d say the sweet, snuffly silver little thing only weighs around 300g, which to give you an idea is roughly the same as a packet of plain chocolate digestive biscuits (so you see I do occasionally spoil myself…even if it’s not the longed-for Thornton’s!).

      Admittedly though I am getting tired of the little hooligans…because they are exactly that, hooligans! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to re-stack the mangold heap; they’ve broken into Tony’s toolbox & spat screws everywhere; & even torn open a bag of dry cement (it’s no wonder some of them are starting to feel so heavy). Thankfully the boys are off to their new home where they’ll be looked after another professional goat -keeper a few miles away, on Sunday; meanwhile the girls will move into their new Playpen – so that I can get some peace & quiet as the ‘serious’ work begins….at last. Same long, gruelling hours but at least there’s less danger of the sky falling on my head, for a change!”

  2. casalba says:

    In that last photo, they do have a bit of a devilish glint in the eye, but I still want to cuddle them.

    I was also lucky to have an outdoor childhood in the countryside and I wouldn’t swap that for anything. How very lucky we were. Not wanting to sound like that Monty Python sketch – I walked 3 miles to school – alone at the age of 5. No 4X4 for me. And, 3 miles home again, but more often than not, I’d take a short-cut through the woods and fields to make it only 2 1/2 miles.

    We took our 15 year old nephew on a long walk halfway up a mountain – his response: “Aunty, you’re going to pay for this!”

    I loved the story of your goat rescue in the hay bales. You’ve got to have eyes and ears all over the place with these guys.

    • LittleFfarm Dairy says:

      “I remember walking up Mount Vesuvius a few years ago.

      I was still in the RAF; & the party consisted of mainly supposedly fit young men. I strode on ahead & they just couldn’t keep up! Not sure I could set such a cracking pace now, though….that trek certainly isn’t for the faint hearted.

      And I know what you mean about the long walk to/from school – Iused to walk a simliar distance home before going out to help do the evening feed of the cattle on the local farm; as well as caring for & exercising my pony. Then it was time for supper & homework…! Mind you I was in my teens; & I would sincerely hope that any teenager could walk that sort of distance without difficulty.

      Incidentally though we did live in a shoebox in the middle of the M25; & had to lick grit off’t road wi’ us tongues….aye; we were lucky.

      But I do think the phrase “kids don’t know they’re born, these days….” sadly does hold true *sigh*.”

  3. casalba says:

    I should add: I’m in my 50s. If I had a 5 year old now – there is no way I’d let him or her walk that distance alone. Sad, isn’t it?

    • LittleFfarm Dairy says:

      “It IS sad –

      but I have to agree. Has the world really become such an evil place…? I’d like to think not; however there was a time when you could leave doors & windows unlocked with little fear of burglary, assault etc; & let children walk to school without the worry they’d be abducted – no more, alas.

      Is it just that the media headlines scream so much more loudly, or are these truly more dangerous times? Regardless, any parent these days who let their child trot off to school unaccompanied would probably be prosecuted for gross irresponsibility.

      I wish I knew what had happened to society, if it really has degenerated so much…& what, if anything can be done to return to those halcyon times we remember so fondly.”

  4. Tony says:

    Yup
    Children locked in their rooms where parents think they can ensure their safety. But, ironically, the children are open to all types of Worldwide threats from those evil types on the internet.

    Less exercise, more sugar and fatty foods is leading to obese people- at least Lovespoon gelato is a healthy alternative- only 7% fat- compared to 18%+ for ice cream!

    • LittleFfarm Dairy says:

      “Hello, Cariad!

      Yes, it’s such a shame. But it seems it’s not just parents being protectionist, which keeps children in their rooms; it’s the children themselves. As you rightly point out, with all the fancy gadgetry they now have access to (provided by the parents, of course), it is perceived there is less stimulation in being outside.

      Ironically of course you can now get gadgetry like ‘wii fit’ etc – which I suppose if the weather is appalling outside at least encourages family fitness indoors – however there’s nothing like a breath of clean, fresh air! I simply cannot see the attraction of staring at a screen whilst running on the spot, waving my arms around when I could be outside; scuttling & waving my arms around instead, hopefully employed in some genuinely meaningful activity (usually in hot pursuit of, or by, errant sheep/goats!).

      Nevertheless most of the technology-based activities seem to be couch-potato based, which is truly sad. And as you say if that is the sole stimulation for a child it inevitably leads to unfitness & obesity – not to mention the dangers of being exposed to the nastier elements of the woldwide web. But so many parents haveso little time, these days; & it’s considered convenient to allow them to ‘keep themselves amused’ indoors, without having to worry about where they are & what they’re doing.

      Mind you I don’t think ‘Lovespoon’ is the sole panacea (although thanks for the plug – & don’t forget it’s also lower in sugar than ice cream as well as being made from only natural ingredients, too 😉 ). Whilst it’s obviously a more ‘healthy’ treat than the majority of ice cream (which in itself is considered to be a better snack than chocolate or crisps – & don’t forget that at least ice cream – like gelato – contains vitamins & calcium, vital for growing youngsters) there’s simply no substitute for an all-round balanced diet; served with a good dollop of healthy outdoor play, activity or sport; depending on the child’s preference.

      On a more heartening note, the other day I caught a brief part of a garden makeover programme – with a difference. The parents wanted to turn the entire back yard into a wildlife garden – a wonderfully stimulating project which not only put the children more in tune with the natural world, but also got them outdoors, exploring & learning through play. Inspirational stuff – if only more parents thought that way….”

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