Sunday, 28 January 2007

New Kids on the Block!

It was in May 1994 that we acquired the first of many animals. Through the ladies at Travail Manuel I met a goat breeder, she made cheese from her herd of goats so always had kids for sale. I bought two sisters at 5 days old. Our grandchildren named them Isadore and Figaro, which soon became Issy and Figgy. They started on bottles 5 times a day then as soon as possible graduated to milk in buckets 4 times a day. Over the coming weeks this was reduced to three times then twice a day and eventually they were weaned off milk and onto pellets and grass at about 3 months of age. The photo was probably taken at about that age. They were absolutely adorable when small but quickly established strong characters.

We had bought them to help clear land round the farm buildings, goats love brambles and other weeds and are an excellent environmentally friendly method. However they do have a fundamental drawback, they cannot differentiate between weeds and flowers, scrub or garden!!!

We soon realized that the only way to keep them where we wanted them was to keep them chained up. This probably sounds worse than it actually was, during the day they would be on long chains close enough to see each other but not be able to get tangled up, at night they were loose in a good size building. And on many occasions they were left to roam free in the wood. All in all not a bad life, especially as they would have been fattenned for meat if we had not bought them. They made a visible impact on the land round the buildings and saved us a great deal of hard labour. They were however probably the most difficult of all the animals we have kept in terms of keeping them under control and quite hard to leave for other people to look after. When fully grown they were quite a handful and if you are not used to dealing with horned goats then they were a bit scary!!!!!!!!

We never bred from them but Figgy provided us with milk on several occasions which is very unusual, normally they need to have a kid before milk production starts. I used to milk her by hand twice a day and we got quite used to drinking goat's milk. I dried her off whenever I was due to be away as I was the only one who could milk her.

Figgy died from natural causes at the age of seven and Issy lived to the age of ten when we had to have her put down as she had very bad arthritis and was having dificulty in moving. I think on the whole they had a good life.

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