We never intended to be quite so populous at Achray. But one thing leads to another and we now have a small and mostly growing menagerie of producers and produce.
We have just had the first proper frost of the season, first-year autumn squash and veg are collected and tidy-up for winter continues, interrupted by a variety of beasts; the most recent arrivals have been the goats.
Pan and Ria – both dairy milkers and with the calmest of temperaments. They arrived from Linlithgow last month and are consistently delivering 3+ liters a day each.
Milking started slowly, and at ground level, but with the collection of a milking stand from a handy Sheffield visit backs are less sore and goats more content. There is still some shenanigans but Nicola is becoming a champion milker. The white stuff is creating a small lake (or iceberg) in the freezer prior to new skills development (more later), medicinal use and feed.
Delightfully they are also fans of the rushes when out in the field, so after debilitating the apple trees we are getting some land strip grazed finally.
Three new troublemakers arrived at the end of last month as 8-week old weaners. Way more boisterous than our first two Oxford Sandy & Black they have also been rather thrown in at the deep end. No cosy barn or dry sunny days for these hardy types, and hence goats milk supplement to feed is very, very popular. I think they have learned to suck it up without breathing to ensure competitive consumption.
After several days of finding the wee guys trotting round the farm, we have also managed to block small holes and reinforce electric fencing, though it’s only a matter of time before they are big enough to create the next problem.
The tiny runner-duckling we hatched and highland friends imported from Ardersier have all grown into beautiful birds. Autumn has brought a close to open season on the pond and Bianca has been seriously ill – probably with Gape Worm (don’t Google Image search if you are squeamish!). Panacur (for rabbits) along with 1:1 overnight vigils, warm baths and a fortnight in the house in front of the woodburning stove has brought her back from the brink a couple of times (image below from earlier in the summer).
Our new point-of-lay hens have taken an age to actually lay but in the last couple of weeks our egg ratio has increased from 8-a-day to almost a full-house from 26. We lost one to the awful Gape Worm before diagnosis and treatment could be effective and so have now invested in treated feed.
Vulpes Vulpes has been spotted trotting across the track and we have found two piles of tail feathers in the grass – amazingly the hen count is complete, but we know it’s a dangerous time of year.