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Wednesday 5 July 2011

Last week I seemed to have slipped into some sort of mid-winter stasis – lethargic and unmotivated. Perhaps I should take more vitamin D. I’ve plodded through the usual outside chores and kept up to date – just – with the marketing work and WWPG necessities and have tried to unburden myself of the Cradoc abbatoir campaign.

Mid-week I collected four more goats from Cygnet. Once again I found myself driving for miles along a winding coast road not sure where I was going – but at least this time it wasn’t in the dark & Luke was safely in school. I’d thought I was buying three Boer-cross does, but it turned out there were four & all a little smaller than I’d hoped. Anyhow I bought them for what I think was the right price & they obligingly followed the bucket of pellets into the goat float. The seller is a local character with whom I’ve chatted before re pigs and goats & is refreshingly laissez-faire re his animals, letting them wander at will across his property.

I should have foreseen that this habit would cause me problems. After clipping the goats’ hooves, drenching & vaccinating them & fitting them with new collars & ear-tags (two books of baby names bought from the Margate tip shop has greatly relieved the stress of naming new animals), they were released into a paddock with the two new does from the week before. The next morning they were out & half-way up the steep hill behind our house. Having loaded up with goat food, I chased up there with the Suzuki & Luke (who wanted to ‘help’ before going swimming with Dad), managed to grab them one at a time & rope them to the back of the car, before towing them back to their pen at a fast clip. Once I’d disconnected the other paddocks (I’m trusting that the main herd won’t realise & go walkabout) their fence rose to 9.6kV. As each goat was unroped, I stuck its nose against the fence (getting heartily zapped myself in the process) before releasing it to feed. I also cut down a load of blackwood and wattle branches for them to browse upon. That was two days ago & so far they remain very wary of the fence – although I’m still not confident about connecting up all the paddocks & thereby dropping the voltage on their paddock.


The Cradoc abbatoir continues to be a concern. The deadline of 30 June came and went without a firm sale. Several people were interested but either could not meet the deadline or raise the finance. Because I’d written letters to various local papers and also started an e-mail campaign to raise interest in the possibility of a consortium, I think I was being viewed as a potential saviour. However, I haven’t the skills to facilitate a co-op buy-out nor the time or energy to pursue it. I’ve therefore turned over all the information I’ve so far gathered to the Council & am hoping they will ensure there is a satisfactory outcome to this issue. I can see several possibilities – there are people who want to run & operate it & others who can raise a substantial part of the purchase price; therefore if the right combination of these people can be brought together we might have a solution.


I’ve begun feeding the piglets in a small temporary yard within the weaning pen, hastily constructed yesterday from two gates and a sturdy metal bed-base (also courtesy of the ever-useful Margate tip shop – said bed-base generally in use as a hay rick for the bucks). The plan is to shut them in this small yard, so I can select the ones destined for slaughter & transfer them to the goat float. I’d planned to haul the float down to the weaning pen this morning but that became impossible since last night the weather turned foul with a vengeance - I tossed & turned all night listening to howling winds & lashing rain - fretting about the animals & whether the tracks would remain negotiable to the Suzuki. Not only was the ground underfoot sodden, but was coated with a layer of sludgy ice. It started snowing at around eleven o’clock this morning & kept on most of the day, occasionally settling, often blowing horizontally & keeping temperatures down to around three degrees centigrade

I was satisfied that all the animals had shelter & plenty of bedding except the three bucks who were trying to fit into two small huts. Since Charlie the poison-dwarf Boer is due to be sold, I thought he should be the one to go elsewhere. The trusty Suzuki was roped into action again to tow him to the shipping container in the veggie patch – the only other place I could think of where he could be tethered and sheltered, well away from the young does. I had to haul him by hand across his paddock & then at the other end across the veggie patch, because in Charlie’s usual way he was stubborn, uncooperative & suspicious. He’s done rather well really as the shipping container is dry and full of hay & he’s got access to a grassy bank outside on which to graze. However, he confounded me instantly by managing to get himself tangled when I would have thought it impossible.

The forecast for the rest of the week is pretty awful. Wet weather I can cope with, but when with wind-chill the temperature is also close to zero I struggle to keep hands and feet warm. Gloves are always getting wet & drying in front of the wood-burner, the house is hung with dripping waterproofs, the dogs are bored and miserable and the laundry floor is awash with mud & wet newspaper. Only Murphy the Cat is smugly content in front of the fire.