Quite a French thing to do on a Saturday afternoon; driving along with a goat in the back of the car, a Jack Russell terrier in the front, a trailer load of hay towed behind. I found a Poitevine goat for sale and she ticked all the boxes; young, healthy, in milk, no horns. It was an eight hour round trip to get her; France is a big country with lots of gaps in between things, we’ve discovered.
Poitevine goats are dark brown/black and white, with long hair, and their milk is prized for making cheese. Nellie, our new goat is called, and she was being sold by some lovely English people who were giving up goat keeping. When we arrived we were given a glass of Nellie’s milk — the best milk imaginable, sweet and creamy. We had also arranged to buy their very good hay, hence the need for Nellie to be transported home in the car instead of the moutonnière as we needed to use the ordinary trailer. A long day, and one given a slight edge by the fact that on the way there our car did something funny with the accelerator, and at one point we simply ground to a halt on a steep bit of main road. Fun! Graham’s an intrepid soul and pressed on regardless, but we were soooooo relieved to get home again. By the time we arrived it was dark and raining, so there was a difficult hour or so while we decanted the new goat in with the others, got the hay under cover, shut up the chickens and fed the goats, dogs and cats.
The goats will soon be moving for the spring and summer into the old bread oven building which is almost ready after some fairly grim clearing out of all the rubbish. Zephirine and Rose have been out in our newly fenced field most afternoons. The solar-powered electric fence unit we bought is a success. It’s my job to test that the fence is working each day, by holding a blade of grass on the wire; this just gives a little tingle, unless it’s been raining and I touch the wire with a big raindrop, in which case I shout and swear a lot. This seems to afford Graham a certain amount of amusement. Actually, you can tell the fence is on by the little red light on the energiser; but I like to make sure.
So … chickens are safely housed, goats pretty much sorted. Now we can get back to the orchard and potager, and finishing the chainsaw work on the boundaries. We are really looking forward to getting everything up and running for a productive year.
Some time later …that Nellie is a right little madam. Within 24 hours she had made it abundantly clear that she would be in charge of the goat department. Zeph and Rose are in total awe. As for milking, well, it’s been a while since I milked a goat and we had rather a lot of hoof-in-bucket the first time. But there is now a bottle in the fridge containing fresh goat’s milk. Brilliant.