Tuesday, 7 February 2017

New Twins for Nanny

Nanny and the new kids, not yet 48 hours old here, under the
IR heat lamp.
A text from our good friend Carolyn tells us that her 'Nanny' goat has just landed twins. The timing of these new babies is correct for full term, going off the dates Carolyn has in her diary for when 'Billy' (they do like original names over there!) was with Nanny but they are tiny. Charlotte, currently working full time in Dublin (missed the birth again, Char'!) , juggles some holiday entitlement and races down to assist. One (curiously the larger of the twins) is struggling a bit, is very sluggish, breathes huskily, needs help getting onto a teat and starts to 'scour' (diarrhoea).

Those 2 kids.
They are put under a heat lamp to keep them warm. The vet is called in a hurry and the kid gets 2 injections, an anti-scour dose and electrolytes. 48 hours on he is much better - a bit 'drunk' but trying to do some clumsy bouncing around. Mum is doing a good attentive job but is (understandably?) very wary of cleaning the poo-ey end of the scouring one.

Charlotte steps in to clean him up a bit but Nanny seems to be thinking of abandoning him; Charlotte guesses that it is the new, cleaned, human smell off him putting her off so she smears a bit of the local Nanny 'flavour' back onto him and Nanny re-adopts him. Phew! It's all go in that Maternity Unit. As I go to 'print' everyone is still with us and it's all looking hopeful.

Sibling bonding. The twins nuzzling each other.
Followers of this blog who were with us a year ago will recall that this 'Nanny' is the same goat who spent last winter with us while C+C were moving house and were temporarily without an adequately fenced field to house the pregnant Nanny and her new beau Billy. Nanny gave birth to the big singleton kid 'Henry Óg' under the trees in our East Field. Billy was not, in that case, the sire. Nanny had been pregnant when purchased and collected by Charlotte and I from over by Kiltimagh (Co. Mayo). During the course of 2016, the humans sorted out some field fencing and we shipped the goats to their new home in the summer. Nanny is a lovely, sweet, animal and we have kept 'in touch' with her since, so we are delighted that she has now kidded successfully again.

Meanwhile a new venture for us, trying to organise a bit of a get together of the members of the Facebook group "West of Ireland Smallholders" of which I am co-admin. Pictures in this section have nothing to do with that event; they were just pretty frost scenes from our recent cold snap. Once a 365-er... always a 365-er? Anyway, there are 250 members in the group but these are spread very thinly right up the western half of the country, all the way from Buncrana (Donegal) down to Baltimore (Cork) - a distance of 600 km, or 8 hours driving. It was never going to be easy to get many of them together; would you drive 4 hours to a pub in the middle for breakfast and a chat, then 4 hours home? Nor would I.

Ewes with frosty backs get a bit of breakfast
In a post/thread on the group which was originally about still-born goat-kids some posters got into discussing how we on the group should meet up properly in 'real life'. This happens a lot on the Internet and can sometimes be easy enough to organise but our lot seemed to be fluffing around in "we should do lunch" style and nothing concrete was being set down. I decided to set up a 'straw-man' with a suggested date, time and venue which people could then either accept or argue with different suggestions. I went with today at 11 for 11:30 at Hester's 'Golden Eagle' (pub) in Castlerea which is easy to find, and sells very good, honest "pub grub" and breakfasts at comfortable prices.

Frosty bog-land view to the North from our East Field
My suggestion met with the expected mild flurry of interest as well as a smattering of counter-suggestions and some apologies for, as expected, distance, lack of transport, prior engagements, livestock issues, busy-ness etc. There were enough positives, though, for us to go ahead - we thought we might get a few takers even if there were last minute blow-outs, which there were - one poor friend had fallen badly and smashed a knee while racing to rescue laundry from a hail storm and another had "emergency dentistry" scheduled for the very time we were getting served our breakfasts.

Our willow tunnel. 
In the event, it all went off rather nicely. Half a dozen of us sat down for a chat at 11 am over tea and coffee before segue-ing gently into ordering breakfasts or sandwiches according to taste while the tea and coffee kept coming. It was lovely to meet the new faces and to put real 'people' to the Facebook versions and the chat meandered in a lively fashion around goats, pasture improvement, Tr*mp, Br*x*t and a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, pension arrangements, newspapers and even music. A very pleasant morning's event. Hester's had done us proud (as expected) with the food and drink.

We are not sure where we go from here. Should we make it monthly and see if the numbers build? Should we start to move it around the patch - let someone from a distant corner of the 'West' organise one and start to get a network going? Should we possibly say that, No, we only attracted 4 people so there is not really a demand for this even though people talk a 'good game' on the net? My instinct is to sit back now and see if there is any ground-swell of support asking for a repeat and promising to come to another one. Watch, as they say, this space.

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