New Year, New Start

Happy New Year to you.

I have been absent for quite some time now, the result of accumulation of ill fate or perhaps just life’s events and the consequential physical, mental and spiritual fatigue on my behalf.

What I thought of the result of other factors was in-fact the Schmallenberg virus which affected my herd of Boer goats in the late summer of 2014. It first shot through my head when my kid “Frances” was feverish and lethargic whiles others where still skipping about and eating. I tossed this thought aside, as I never heard or red much about this disease after the initial surge in the UK 2011/2012 and the odd rumour that this ruminant illness would be about.

When my goats started to abort, losing their foetuses, I asked vets and the AHVLA (animal health department of the government) about the possibility of Schmallenberg which they negated.

Kidding time came and it turned out to be the dreaded Schmallenberg virus, which showed its ugly head with mis-formed, crippled, blind, weak and seemingly healthy kids which started fiting after three days of their short lives. Vets and the AHVLA where not interested, both referring to the other, saying it is not their business. Admittedly nobody could have done anything, but it would have given me some kind of acknowledging support. I basically was alone with all the questions of the world and a loss of 80% of the herd’s birth rate average.

Not very good for mental health I have to admit, and certainly not very good for business health either, especially just trying to re-establish after the move to this place. I had seven live kids instead of the expected 35 or so, three of which are female and one boy was partially blind.  Luckily I had some growers from the previous year to sell as meat, but I had to keep the head fairly low instead of pushing for sales.

With all this I had to find myself a job outside the farm gate to pay the bills and keep going until things would perk up again. I had a lot of help from some friends whiteout which things would have been quite bleak. Micro businesses and or small scale farmers are not note worthy and dismissed as hobbyists with no hope of support. In the mean-time in the West Country some investigating activities are ongoing, so maybe the future will be a bit brighter for those who will be hit by this horrid disease. It is very depressing to watch and I have plenty of questions about the long term effects of the virus nobody wants to answer so far, maybe time will help to tell.

For the moment last year’s kid are growing well and the does are looking good also. I acquired a new buckling who was busy and I can’t wait for the results coming March. 🙂

some goats resting in shed

Siesta for some


buckling looking through gate

new boy Bowen @ 11 month

I spent a little time to do some thinking between external and goat-work and I planned quite a few changes this year after my kidding season.

My terrier Gerald found a badger and got battered quite a bit, he needed some patching up. For economical and sentimental reasons, he is on a curfew now. After dark, or even before he has to go on a lead. Thing was, Gerald slipped through a fence and Pinto my Lifestock Guardian Dog (LGD) and I couldn’t follow (we are too big!), we had to go the long way around!

Pinto does his work, because of the set-up here his job is a little unconventional, but he is on patrol at night keeping his eyes on the land and potential trespassers (2 and 4 legged) are warned off.

We had some frost, the weather was fairly kind last autumn and it has been said that things will be better this year. I do hope so, especially the weather, I am a little excited to implement my plans and using some new skills. But for now I will be pursuing my external job and keep things ticking over until the spring…

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