Thursday, 27 March 2008

High on the hill was a lonely Goatherd, yo di lay yo di lay......

As most of you reading this will know that I hanker for the 'Good Life'. I was brought up with potatoes, carrots, peas, strawberries and even gooseberries growing in the garden. I even think we had a grape vine growing over a trellis but I don't think it ever amounted to much. We kept chickens for a time on a fairly large scale in a back garden and I loved it!! I can even remember a time when we had no car and caught buses and trains or walked everywhere. We didn't have a lot of money but what I did have was a very full childhood with lots of different experiences. I don't think that I lacked anything but I did have tough times for different reasons, which I can only fully appreciate how tough they were now and what a lasting effect those things have had on me.

But on the whole I had a happy childhood. Living simply and making do. Re-use and recyle were second nature to us and we didn't know any different really. We appreciated things when they were given to us. We certainly didn't have the clutter problem that we all talk about so freely these days! We had paper rounds and Saturday jobs when we were older and learnt the value of money.

Now you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this when the title of this posting is a song from The Sound of Music. No, we're not going turn ourselves in to a modern day Von Trapp family! Nor am I about to go on Stars in their eyes as Julie Andrews!

No. It is simpler than that. Well, maybe.

We are thinking of getting a dairy goat!! (or 2 as they need company of some sort!)

I have always loved goats. In fact I love most creatures with possibly the exception of Turkeys and maybe geese!!

Now there will be some of you gasping in horror at our outlandish behaviour! And others who are oohing at the cute little kids we will have to bring up! ;-)

But we have chickens, successfully bred and hatched 'our own' eggs and are increasing the vegetable plot in the garden while I work out how to get my hands on an allotment! So why not a goat? We must go through 8 pints of milk a day!! The boys drink it like water, we make custard and yoghurt and cheese sauces and it costs us a fortune!!!

Why can't I be Barbara from The Good Life and have a goat called Geraldine and take it for walks to browse the hedgerows and grass verges? Well maybe not the walking it as there are regulations these days because of Blue tongue etc, but is it such a difficult animal to keep and milk twice a day and make butter and cheese and things from it?

So I started doing research on it in earnest, although I didn't have to try to convince my husband or any of the boys, as they are all as keen as me when it comes to my crazy schemes!!!

I started by reading the section in John Seymour's Self Sufficiency about goat keeping, the bit in Home Farm by Paul Heiney and then dug out my back isues of Country Smallholding which bizarely enough had an article about Keeping a goat in the town!!

Then I went on to the internet and looked at breeds. I have always had a soft spot for the ones with Roman noses and floppy ears. They are a dairy breed called Anglo Nubian. As luck would have it I found a website for a breeder near Stratford upon Avon and emailed her to ask if she would mind us coming to see her herd.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Holdbrook Herd. Mel is lovely, and her son also spent the time wth us talking about the goats. They had lots of kids there to make a fuss of. She let them out from their stalls in to the barn so they could run around was lovely. Even my littlest one was loving it!! Mel showed us how to trim their feet and gave up an hour of their time not to mention her knowledge. I was so interested in everything she had to say and so taken with the goats that I completely forgot to take any photos! So the 2 pictures here are ones from Mel's website by kind permission.

Aren't they just so adorable!!!! I want them!!!

But we will make an informed decision by visiting other breeds and herds before jumping in too quickly. We would have to get a holding number from Defra, but I don't think that is too difficult on such a small scale. Goats as pets not for business.

So are we mad? That remains to be seen. I think we are a little crazy but not certifiable....not yet!!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Do schools kill creativity?

I saw this link on one of the Yahoo groups this evening and felt compelled to add it here. It is a 20 minute video so grab a cup of tea and make yourelf comfortable, it is well worth watching/listening to!! Actually, forget the cup of tea, you'll only end up spilling it on your computer as you laugh out loud!

Here they all are!!!

I have lots to post about but thought I would quickly add a picture of the babies that a friend took with her camera while she was visiting our new arrivals! They are between 1 and 2 days old here. Aren't they just so adorable?!! They have already changed so much. More pictures soon!!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Webmeester

As promised a link to my son's website!
He has just showed me how to do hyperlinks so expect lots more from now on!! Aren't they fab!!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

I found one!

I found a photo better than the Alien one of yesterday of the first 2 chicks. They are about 5 hours old, I think.

And I remembered the other thing that I wanted to blog about. Websites. Html. How many of us know anything about how to make a website? I for one know very little and although these blogs look very good to the uninitiated, they are just a template that you upload words and photos to.

But my husband has just built a website for his employer from scratch. Self taught and in the public domain!!! Wow! But the best bit? He showed my eldest son briefly how to create a web page and he has done just that!!! With drop down boxes, moving text, links to other pages and a gallery etc. Excellent. Maybe I'lll try to put a link on here to it one day.

For now, here is a pic of one of his technical lego Landys!

Long time no news...

Yes i know, apart from yesterdays Alien like photo I have been pretty quiet on the blog front. This does not mean however that life has been quiet, oh no!! Quite the opposite as most of you reading this can relate to.

I have just settled myself down upstairs in the comfort zone with a cup of coffee to catch up on what has been happening with us, when, lo and behold, the USB cable for my digital camera has just broken.....the end has snapped off. AAAAAh!! So instead of being able to load the photo of my new babies that I have just taken specially to upload here, I will just have to tell you how cute and lovely they are.

All 11 have hatched now...they are from our own chickens in the garden so you could say they are home grown!! We put 12 eggs in the incubator 3 weeks ago, 6 from each of our lovely hens, Buffy and Brownie. Sadly one of the eggs died in the egg at about 10-12 days I think. I didn't do anything about it until day 16 just to be on the safe side and then we took it out and cracked it open to see what it looked like. A very tiny 'embryo'(?) in its sac. It had eyes and feet and you could just see the fluff forming. So very sad.

And just to add to the nightmare I managed to leave the incubator switched off that afternoon for nearly 7 hours!!! In our room which is like an ice box (no radiator and 3 exposed external walls) so I was petrified that they would all die through getting too cold.

But here we are with all the other 11 eggs hatched and cheeping away!!! Its so eggsciting (sorry, couldn't resist that!) and we have all been standing over the incubator for the last 36 hours wataching them all hatch, oohing and aahing and totally transfixed by the miracle of egg to chick in 21 days. Pictures to follow soon , I hope.

And what have we been doing for the last 4 weeks or so?

Well, the boys did a night hike and camped overnight along a disused railway cutting, and woke up to frost on the outside of the tent!! They left at 6.30 on a Sunday evening and were home by about 9.30 on Monday morning! They walked about 5 or 6 miles in total. Here they are just before setting off!

Yes, they are night vision goggles David is wearing, but he decided to leave them behind at the last minute!!

A good time was had by all, although very little sleep was had by my husband!

And here we have William out in the garden when I had just dug over part of the veggie beds ready for carrots. He just loves to be outside. In the Eglu behind is the cockerel that has to be shut in when William is out in the garden following the 'attack' a few weeks previously. We were all out in the garden in the sunshine and Tom and Will went down the side of the house to give the chickens some bread, and managed to corner them which made the cockerel very protective of his girls and lash out at Will. It was quite scary and Will had a nasty cut just below his eyebrow which had to glued at the doctors, but it didn't stop him from going out in to the garden and poking at the cockerel through the wire!!!

We have booked Tom's flight to Australia for the end of April and returning at the end of July...he is so looking forward to it. The family that he will be staying with are over here at the moment so we have managed to get the boys together a couple of times and also hope to spend the Easter weekend with them in Wales.

We've had a real turbulent couple of weeks these last few weeks. As some of you will know, David, my 7 year old decided that he might like to give school another try!!!! No one could have been more shocked than me, as it was only the week previously that I had had 'one of those days' and threatened to send them all back to school. This was not received well and was followed by panicked expressions, cries of 'NO! I'm NEVER going back' and then a mad rush to go and tidy their rooms etc So you can imagine my surprise when he calmly asked if he could go to school again. I decided immediately that I had to let him make the decision for himself or I would have it thrown back at me in later life!! I must say I initially felt quite upset, and wondered what I had done wrong but I soon realised that it was more for the playground 'socialising' , invitations to tea and talking about star wars and all that commercial consumerism stuff that I hate.

So we went to visit the local village school and he started the next day, Thursday. The first morning we had the nervous 'I don't want to go' which passed as soon as he got dressed and ready to go. His teacher is lovely, his class has lots of summer birthday children, and her own son is an August birthday so it all looked promising. A small village school with smallish classes and lots of support. But despite all this and their giving him a free ride, it wasn't long before he felt inferior and frustrated that he couldn't read and write like most of the others. We took him out of school because of the whole pressure to read and write before he was ready, and the stress that it caused, and it didn't take long before the old stressed David was back.

And then it happened.... he refused to go one morning. 8 days back at school and it happened. Possibly sooner than I anticipated but I knew that he wouldn't last long. So the second morning that he refused to go, I went to the school and spoke to his teacher and the Senco lady. They were lovely. Really understanding and helpful. We talked through some options and they offered him a space in the Year 2 class until the end of the summer term. This is what I wanted in the first place, but I'm not sure that David will go for it now as he may feel like he is losing face by going down to the Year 2 class having started in Year 3. I have given him until Monday to decide and then we will go to school together and talk to them. That is 4 days off and maybe that will be enough for him to think about whether he misses it or not. We actually saw his class yesterday as we were walking to the farm shop, and they all waved and shouted 'Hello David'. Very sweet and I think David was touched by it and it made me think that he would enjoy school if he can get over his difficulties.

Oh, and Will had his second birthday!

I'm sure there is so much more but that's enough for now.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Our new baby!!!!!!

Lots to catch up on but had to load this pic....this little chick hatched just about 5 mins ago!!! Update lateer on!!! 1 down....possible 10 to go!!