Of course, my most exciting news this month is that the baby goats have arrived safe and sound. Lolly gave birth on Friday 26th to a boy and girl, Pak and Choy, and Blossom on Sunday 28th, just before the Grand Prix, to Jensen and Paprika. Their deliveries and subsequent caring for their babies couldn’t have been more different. Lolly delivered hers in the rain on a rocky hillside and seemed very uninterested in them for the first day. She fed them rather halfheartedly and then went walkabout. If they cried she’d bawl up the hill to them in a rather irritated fashion – all mothers will know the feeling. I had to remove Blossom from their field as she was ready to take over and kept trying to pinch them and clean them. Blossom delivered her babies in the sunshine on a bed of deep grass and cared for them from the word go, even to the extent that she nibbled their umbilical cords off. Lolly’s two are still dangling little biltong cords. However, as soon as Lolly saw Blossom’s two she had a change of heart and, quite literally, ran back to her babies and has been a good mummy ever since.
Somehow in my mind I had pictured the mummy goats curling up in the stable with their babies (only thing missing from this picture was the baby Jesus in a manger, cue angels singing) but the mummies sleep outside and all the babies sleep in a pile in the shed.The first night with all four babies and mums was a bit hairy - we only have one properly closed shed where we were happy to leave them all and the the two mummies wanted none of it. They kept head butting each other and one another's offspring until in desperation I strung up the cover from a speed boat (another Harrod's find) across the middle of the shed to separate the two families.(All this was done by torch light at about 9pm). This helped with the impasse between Blossom and Lolly but the bigger babies kept sneaking under the plastic to visit their new cousins. By the following morning the plastic had sagged a little and I arrived with their breakfast in time to witness Lolly glaring at Blossom over the impromtu divider because Blossom had just headbutted one of her (Lolly's) babies out of her(Blossom's) side of the shed. Lolly's hair was up all down her spine and you could just hear her saying "HOW DARE YOU HEAD BUTT MY BEAUTIFUL CHILD!". Thanks heavens that after a day out in the sunshine with the children all playing together the two mummies forgot they were enemies and remembered they were sisters - peace reigned again.
The kids are delightful- growing rapidly and remarkably intelligent, much brighter than sheep. They see or do something once and then remember it. Yesterday I watched them wake up, play for a while (mock head butting and kicking their heels up is big as well as standing on mum and leaping into the air) then go in search of their mothers who happened to be sleeping in one of the bottom fields, out of their sight. Although they’d only been there once before they wandered down through all the correct gates and around all the right corners until they found their mums and awoke them from their blissful reverie, remember they were only 4 and 6 days old respectively. So – I’m a very proud Ouma. There are photos of the babies under the gallery - My family and other Animals.
The new arrivals have provided us with a steep learning curve- not least in the goat milking department. I had said that I didn’t want to get into milking the goats as it becomes a bind but both Lolly and Blossom were so milk bound the first few days that I had to as the kids couldn’t get a grip on their swollen teats. We have neither a milking manual nor facilities but my neighbour assured me that ‘you just slide your thumb and forefinger down the teat – it’s easy’. The goats did not approve of having their sore udders fondled and took off for the hills so milking generally went like this – Andre and I, laden with a wooden stool, a sterile bowl, a tub of udder cream and some or other goat delicacy to entice them would arrive at their stable, cooing sweet nothings; they’d take one look at us and flee. For the next little while we would stalk a goat until we had her cornered, Andre would grab her horns, I’d insert the stool and sterile bowl somewhere close to said goat. By this time my tub of cream had rolled off down the hill, I’d fall off my stool trying to reach it. By the time I’d creamed my fingers and crawled back to the goat (through heaven knows what) there’d be a kid standing in the sterile bowl trying to get in on the action, the goat would be swiveling her end around to get away from everyone and the other goat would be trying to eat my hair. I’d eventually have to just shove my head against the goat I was milking to hold her still whilst I milked her. Once the process was under way the goat would relax enough to chew the cud or poo on my head – hmm, not like the bucolic scenes one sees at the movies.
It’s been a busy month – early in August I did a talk and demo at the Hartenbos NaaldewerkGilde which was fun and then another talk and demo at our Outeniqua Guild meeting. I enjoy doing them but it’s always a lot of preparation. The group that meets at the Pinkhaus once a month was very busy the last time. We had some visitors who live far away but have ‘second’ homes in the area and a few new faces including some ladies from Friemersheim who were very keen and managed to make a nearly complete patchwork handbag whilst they were here. My sewing room looked like a bomb had hit it when everyone left! The ladies from Friemersheim very kindly brought me a big basket of lemons and something I had never tried before – custard apples. I have only ever heard bad reports about them so was a little dubious but when we tried one it was absolutely delicious – it’s always so nice to discover something new to eat!
I also did a course in town with the Museum Craft group – something I’d never tried before which was such fun. I have no idea what it’s called but essentially you ‘plaster’ a board with acrylic paste, cut a design out of aluminium shim which is then inserted into the paste creating a tiny ridge around the pattern. Into that you pour stained glass dye – oooh it was lovely, all the colours gently flow into one another. I did three simple flowers in slender vases and will post the pics next month because it still has to dry properly and I need to finish the border.
My biggest sadness this month came from having to have Jack put down. It was tough but my vet agreed it was the best thing to do – the house is very quiet without him. Still – life goes on and we are keeping our eyes open for a suitable new dog who will fit in with our lifestyle here. Since Jack has gone we can now walk in the fields with Ben as he is very good with the livestock, in fact he takes guarding the kids very seriously, lying at their gate and coming to tell me if anything is wrong e.g. if one gets stuck in a fence. The kids inspect him through the fence and he licks their faces.
Spring is knocking at the door and we have some beautiful warm days for working outside now. The Red Bishops and the Butterfly birds are starting to put on their mating plumage and look so pretty dotted across the fields with their entourages of brown speckled wives and the fynbos is still flowering profusely.
Melanie Brummer arrives in under three weeks to run her week long Textile Dyeing and Printing class so we are busy getting everything organized for the guests who will be staying here. Tomorrow is market and auction day in Groot Brak so – the bakkie is packed with all my fresh produce and I have to be up at the crack of dawn. I’m off to bed!
Till next time.