Wednesday, 31 May 2017
We have our first chicks of the year hatched by natural means. No electrically powered incubator here, just a hen in a nest box. Three chicks hatched from 5 eggs. Sadly, two have died, but the remaining one is alive and well.
We have another hen on eggs which are due to hatch next week.
This is Whinnie, the baby billy goat born a month ago. We had to take him away from his mother Spot, when he was born, as he was too weak to stay with her. We have been bottle feeding him and keeping him in the house and the garden. For the first three weeks he was unable to walk. We were thinking we would have to take him to the vet to be put down if he was to remain immobile. He then discovered his legs. He's in good health now and has a good appetite for milk. He is starting to explore things to eat, including my papers left in our front room. He is smaller than his brother and his horns are less developed. We are however confident that he is pulling through. He goes to the vet on Thursday for a check up. And we are gradually integrating him into the flock.
On Saturday we had the heaviest hail storm I have ever experienced. The hailstones were the size of marbles, We ended up with some damage to the roof of the quail house. The kids were nervous but the adult goats took it all in their stride, spending their time in the main goat house eating grass which I picked just before the storm.
Monday, 29 May 2017
Where we are in Britain, elder normally starts flowering in early to mid June. This year it is a couple of weeks early, presumably down to the absence of any serious winter and the warmer than usual spring temperatures. It looks like I will be making elderflower champagne shortly.
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Whinnie, the goat kid we are raising by hand, was taken to the allotment last week to be introduced to the other goats. The aim is to gradually integrate him into our small herd. Most of the other animals had a sniff at him and then walked away uninterested. Pinkie however was a bit more aggressive, dragging him by his ears and at one point head butting him. As he gets bigger, he will be able to better defend himself but we kept him on the allotment supervised for about an hour before taking him home again.
I took him back a couple of days later but he ended up on the Whinnies Community Garden where the volunteers have taken a shine to him and are keen to look after him.
We will continue to hand feed him at home but we have already moved the 4am feed back to 6am and soon it will be put back further. The trick now is to get him eating solids. He's starting to explore the whole concept of eating by chewing on whatever takes his fancy. In the house that means paper and clothes. In the back garden it's plant pots and stones. We hope soon to get him eating bran and oats mixed in milk.
Friday, 26 May 2017
The Hop Garden in High Spen is a community run allotment and I've often attended events they have hosted in the past. On Sunday, I headed to High Spen to go to the garden's swap event. The currency at these events is anything produced on the allotment that is surplus. The idea is that people swap what they have too much of, for something they don't have enough of. I took 6 boxes of quail eggs and brought back tomato and pepper plants and a goose egg!
Sunday, 21 May 2017
The second goat kid born to Spot at the end of April was too weak to stay with his mother. When we brought him back home to bottle feed him and raise him by hand, we did not have high hopes of a recovery. The kid, named Whinnie by supporters of the Whinnies Community Garden where we keep our animals, turned out to be a bit of a fighter. Nevertheless, before today we had not been able to get him to stand on his feet. We had built him a harness but that didn't really do the job. Earlier this week, he seemed to be worse and I was contemplating giving him to the end of this week to see if he was going to recover or else we may have to consider putting him down.
Today, he managed to get onto his feet. He was very wobbly. He fell over a few times and he propped himself up against the settee a bit, but he was actually on his feet. We are not out of the woods yet but I am much more hopeful that he will make a full recovery.
And at that point we have a problem. He was breed for slaughter but we have invested so much time and effort and resources in keeping him alive and helping him to recover that sending him for slaughter later this year is not something we really want to do. We can't however keep him with our little herd of goats as we already have a billy. So we are looking for solutions and a possible new home for him.
Tuesday, 16 May 2017
We have had our first hen death of the year. Freckles was a bit special for us as she was the final hen we still had from the first batch of eggs we ever hatched, back in 2013. She had always roosted in a tree that overhangs the allotment, though she had to tolerate 3 months of confinement in the henhouse and fruit cage along with all the other hens over the winter, under DEFRA instructions, following the bird flu outbreak. Freckles was a cream legbar, a breed that laid green eggs. She however was a bit of an individualist. She laid brown eggs instead.
Thursday, 4 May 2017
Wednesday, 3 May 2017
On Sunday I got to the allotment in the afternoon to find that Spot had had two babies, both billies. One was strong and receiving lots of attention from Spot. The other was weak (though he had a strong voice) and lying on the ground, unable to get up. It was clear he wasn't going to survive without intervention from us. I took off my shirt, wrapped him in it and took him home. We had in store a sack of dried goat milk for kids so we made some and put it into one of the bottles we had bought ready for just such an eventuality.
We managed to get him to drink some of the milk but throughout the evening he was too weak to stand up. If we put him on his feet, his legs seemed to move in completely different directions. We persevered, feeding him regularly through the evening. We even put him in a box next to our bed and fed him at 4am, then again at 6am and 8am.
Through Monday, he remained noticeably wobbly on his feet and his legs still seemed to go in all directions. However, though on Sunday my expectation was that he would not survive, I became more confident that he would pull through. Tuesday saw further improvement and he certainly showed he has an appetite. Today has seen further improvement with his legs working properly and he is quite steady and beginning to skip around.
The problem for us is that Spot will not accept him as he was taken away from her shortly after birth and she will not have bonded with him. We are stuck with the job of bottle feeding him until he is weaned. He can't stay in the house for too long either or else he will make a complete mess of the place! We will need to consider how to reintroduce him back to the allotment and the other goats. I suspect it will be a couple of weeks yet before we can do that. In the meantime, he continues to be fed at 4am (and many other times of the day as well) and to sunbath in our back garden.
When we took on our Marley Hill allotment, there was already mint growing there. Mint, of course, is very invasive. It can easily take over. That is what happens in Marley Hill. There is always a battle to hold back the mint hoards. It does however mean that we will be making lots of mint sauce, mint tea, mint jelly and so on.
We have planted lots of beans and peas on our Marley Hill allotment. The beans are growing quite well. The peas are looking a bit unimpressive however. It looks like something has been at the leaves. We discovered an old packet of peas a few days ago. There was nothing to be lost by planting them though we put them on our Farside allotment rather than Marley Hill.
A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at the allotment to let out the animals and feed them. It took me ages to find the two kids. They were happily sleeping in a water butt that was lying on its side. We had a repeat performance today. A thorough search of the allotment and I eventually found them in an empty cold frame.
The large lovage plant on what is now our livestock allotment has been dug up and moved to the Farside plot as part of our decision to separate the fauna from the flora. We had tried to fence off the corner of the garden where the lovage, and other herbs, were growing but the goats eventually broke in and feasted on the lovage (which also made Georgina a bit ill though recovery was quick). The huge root system now appears to have established itself. Next winter we will split it up as it is now getting too large.
As we have decided to keep the two kids born to Georgina, we have hand them debudded by the vet. In effect, the stub of the horn is burnt off, effectively killing off the horns. The operation is done under an anaesthetic. It was carried out 2 weeks ago and appears to have been a success. There's been no growth on the horns.