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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A roller coaster of ups and downs

I am so sorry for the longer periods of time between posting, but at the moment it seems like one thing after another along with the workload and the list of jobs that need doing ever increasing.

Well he new girls have arrived the ones I have been hinting about for the last few posts. A friend of mine offered to drive me to close to Burgas to go and get them and after an uneventful journey we arrived late in the evening. Fortunately my neighbour had already put Millie and Tilly to bed in the back room of the goat shed so it was quite easy to get the new girls bedded in for the night. I have always been keen to get Anglo Nubian goats to hopefully improve milk yield with a higher butterfat content to enable me to make cheese in the winter when things in the garden slow down. Duchess and Naya were fine overnight, but in the morning Naya as she has only recently been weaned started yelling every time she saw me. There was I thinking Milly could not be surpassed, but Naya bless her all in all was a little scared of the larger goats as she had been bottle fed in a creche system. Fortunately it did not last long and now she has settled into the herd fully, the only problem being she is very adept at limbo and manages to get through a tiny entrance designed to give the chickens and ducks access to their feed without any risk of the goats getting to it so preventing them getting bloat. So fir the time being the poultry feed has now been placed into the chick pen as the young ducks and chickens have now been successfully integrated with the main flock.
The Duchess

Naya (Hindi for new)

When it came to integrating Milly and Tilly with Duchess and Naya it put me straight back to zoo keeping days when integrating new animals into existing herds. Surprisingly after a good hour and a half of head butting and exaggerated posturing Milly has lost her crown as herd leader to Duchess. Milly tried to use Tilly and me to try and avoid conflict with Duchess during the last stages to the dominance tussle. No major fighting occurred and in the end Duchess just followed Milly around to show she was boss.

Milly is definitely pregnant and will be due to give birth at the end of July and as I am currently milking Duchess will have a good supply of milk at the end of the year to enable me to make cheese. I am potentially looking to get Duchess and later Naya mated using artificial insemination as a company north of where I live imports semen for Anglo Nubians and other breeds from the Netherlands, but that will be a while yet.  


Until Naya is a little larger none of the goats are going out with the goat herd and as Tilly has now fully recovered from her miscarriage and that all the girls are now settled I am taking them all out for brief excursions for grazing and browsing in the nearby fields. Again it one of those situations where an extra pair of hands are needed just to get them all out from their enclosure and through the garden. Subsequently many times the roses, hydrangeas and chrysanthemums have been pruned as the girls walk past, even when I have the three adults on leashes. During the walks I am keeping Duchess on a lunge line as she had decided after a couple of days when I had let her off during feeding to want to go the other way and with her being the boss the other three decided they were going with her. Hopefully by the end of next month I intend to get them to go out with the goat herd, but will initially go out with them to keep a check on the situation and collect them earlier due to Naya's age




  .  Goat walking pics

As already mentioned the young chickens and ducklings are now integrated with the main flock, but hopefully will be sold in the next couple of weeks. The broody duck is still sitting and there are Indian runner ducks eggs in the incubator due to hatch at the beginning of June.



  

In the garden other than continuous hoeing due to the sporadic showers and thunderstorms the weeding scenario is like painting the Forth Bridge scenario, you just finish and then you have to start again, but the veggies are coming on a treat with tomatoes, courgettes and cucamelons all setting fruit.
 Tomatoes
 Courgettes
 Tiny Cucamelon
                                         Blackcurrants but not enough to make a pot of jam.
 James Grieve apple again not enough for the now famous brown sauce

 My neighbour decided I need fifty pepper plants

The peonies have pretty much finished flowering, but the roses are now coming into their own. Sara loved her roses and after a period of rain always was out trying to capture raindrops on the petals of a freshly opened up flower. I am experimenting at the moment drying the petals to make potpourri, well it will make a change from incense sticks. 




I have now started harvesting some produce, namely peas and strawberries. As I do not have enough strawberries to make jam I will be buying them from the weekly market when prices are low as now I am getting regular orders for jams and chutneys.

 Freshly picked and podded peas
Strawberries

Sadly just as I beginning to get to grips with my life without Sara and adjusting to my new work schedule for each day the end of last week brought another major blow in my life as our beloved Labrador Bonnie had to be put to sleep. Over the last few weeks her mobility had got worse and all she was doing was sleeping which can hardly be expected for an old girl of nearly thirteen. I had got Bonnie for Sara when her horse Tosca that she had for twenty six years suddenly died to give Sara a purpose in life and Bonnie was always 'her girl'. On Thursday when Bonnie got up to let out for her morning toilet instead of coming back in she just lay at the door. The previous two days she had not eaten, the last time when she ate I had to feed her by hand and so things were not looking good for her. I have always felt it is important not to let a pet suffer for your own emotional needs, but broke down in floods of tears as I knew Bonnie's days were drawing to a close. As she lay there I encouraged her indoors where she staggered to the water bowl and she drank its contents. I refilled it and she drank another half bowl. To try and make sure what I needed to do was the right thing, I took her for a walk along the road, but unlike normal days where she would waddle ahead tail wagging she just staggered behind me whilst Bella ran ahead. As a final try to encourage her to show some of her 'joie de vivre' I took her to her favourite haunt the river, but as she lay on the back seat of the car not wanting to move I realised she had had enough and so the painful decision to take her to the vets had to be made. I had previously called them to discuss the situation and so sadly I drove to Veliko Tarnovo with Bonnie and Bella. Upon arrival at the vets I asked if I could to bring Bella in with me so that she could say her final goodbye to Bonnie and in the hope that maybe should would understand where Bonnie had gone. The vet confirmed that I was making the right decision, but still it was a very hard decision to make. With tears streaming down my face and an assistant vet holding Bella, Bonnie left me. As she took her final breath I whispered to her "Go find Mummy" a saying I would always say to her when I returned from a walk as we entered the gate and she would run to find Sara. 
                                     One of the few photos I have of my two girls together.

That evening as I went to Sara's grave, my daily ritual, I took Bonnie's tennis ball and placed it on Sara's grave and think to myself they will be together again both free of any pain, but my pain is still raw. I will continue on facing the daily challenges that lie ahead of me generally keeping myself occupied with work, but to provide me with a little 'down time' a time that I can remember my days with my girls I have constructed this in memory of Sara and Bonnie as Sara particularly hated the heat of the day and getting bitten by mosquitoes in the evening. As I light the candle in the lantern that my painted for me I will look up to the stars and hope that my girls are looking down on me.

                                    My 'down time' zone for remembering the good times
  
Anyway sorry to cut it a bit short, but I have a bellowing goat saying "come on grub time and I need to be milked". Don't you just love routine and no time to get bored. Take care everyone and live your life to its fullest.        

28 comments:

  1. Oh such a happy post with new additions and so sad with the departure of Bonnie, had me in tears, it is almost a year since we lost our lovely Kara an old school black lab she crossed rainbow bridge at the young age of 8, I love your down time zone :-)

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    1. Many thanks Dawn and sorry to hear of your Kara. Sadly I cannot use my down time mosquito free zone when I go out in the garden in the evening to pick produce and at the moment I am being eaten alive, so out with the tea tree oil to calm the bites.

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  2. I agree with Dawn, but I do think you did the right thing with Bonnie.

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    1. Many thanks Gill. having Bonnie for so many years like many other pet owners you instinctively know when things are not right with your buddy..

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  3. Hugs, so sorry - so soon but the right decision to make. they always tell you when they have had enough. the firsts are always the rawest - but at least you still have Bella. Dogs are the loveliest companions to have around so understanding so trusting all unconditional love when you need it the most. Had me in tears too. If truth be known "No time is the right time for us" but its not about us. Its about you and them. sounds as though you are carving a niche for yourself. If you want any recipes let us know as I have a whole stash of preserving books with a whole load of different variations. think you need more than three blackcurrants though to make some jam! I have been given some fresh rhubarb today by one of the girls at work for a small donation to a local charity. that for me is a win win a bonus in that I have fresh home grown rhubarb to stew and either eat with ice cream or to turn into a crumble. My garden has been stripped now to sort it and get it prepared for growing a few things. A productive garden is a very special thing. I used to grow a while back but in reality probably will not get too much done this year as long as I get it turned around for next. glad you have a special place to retreat too. take care. Tricia (aka Pattypan)


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    1. Many thanks for your words Tricia. I am hoping to go with my Bulgarian neighbour to a friends house where they have masses of blackcurrants (Sara and I went there last year) so hopefully not too long before blackcurrant jam on the jobs to do. I have masses of rhubarb, but am not a greet fan of it and whilst rummaging around the freezer found some Sara had frozen.

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear about but she will now be happy with Sara. It sounds like you are so busy with the new goats and the garden. Do you have any time to do your art work or is that more of a winter activity? Your special your 'down time' area it looks very peaceful for you.

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    1. Sadly Janice painting has been put on the back burner at the moment as I still try to work out what is important and worth doing (financially viable). At the moment if I tried to do any painting I would just get stressed about the jobs I am not doing. In the inter the plan is to utilise my time cheese making (well practicing/learning).

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  5. Thanks for posting, you write with such feeling, I'm sure it is beneficial in you time of healing....a problem shared etc. etc.

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    1. The only thing I get hung up about with writing is the time between postings and getting stressed of the jobs I should be doing so most times I write when the weather is not good and ultimately bulk it out with photos. Whatever not only does it help with my grief by letting my emotions out, but makes me happy that through my writings Sara's spirit lives on.

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    2. Thanks for the reply Dave. No problems at all with "photo bulking" you know what they say about one being worth a thousand words ;-)

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  6. Everything in the garden looks lovely and healthy Dave. We are miles behind you. Nev has all his stuff planted now in his little veg patch, we have a couple lots rhubarb up to now. Love your chill out area, hope you get time to use it. We were sorry to hear about Bonnie but her time had come and it is the best thing to do. Lots of love XX

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  7. Thanks Cindy - as you say the kindest thing for Bonnie. Overrun with rhubarb here and I am not overly keen on it (don't have time to make any puddings) so may use it to make some chutney. Take care guys xx

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  8. Soooo sorry for you and the loss of Bonnie, my darling ginger cat is coming to the end of his days, if he makes it ..in comfort..he will be 19 in August, it will be another break from the past, and the loss of my husband. though ten years ago sounds a long time it really isn't, However, like you, I try to take some pleasures where I can.One of my said 'pleasures'is reading your blog and seeing your photos. Thank you Teresa

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    1. So glad my ramblings give you pleasure Teresa. Nineteen is a very good age for your moggy and I must admit this year seems to be racing away. Take care

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  9. So sad your dog died but good to think of her playing catch in heaven with Sara. I like the memorial canopy, it looks like a place to catch a cool breeze and to keep mosquitoes out.

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    1. Indeed Terra, sadly at the moment no time to sit under the canopy as too much to do.

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  10. Thank you for posting Dave. It lets Sara live on in our lives too :-) So sorry to hear of your loss of Bonnie. You are incredibly stoic, you do Sara proud. Goats have such peaceful faces, I'm not sure their natures always match.

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    1. Thanks for your message Curly Club, at times it is really tough to keep going, but I do and the goats definitely keep me on my toes.

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  11. The new goats are lovely. So sad to hear about Bonnie, once again I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. You did the right thing though. We can't let our pets suffer. Sara would be so proud of the way you are handling everything from the animals to the garden to the produce for the boot sales and not least for keeping the blog going. You don't need to worry about the time between posts, we are all happy, I am sure, to wait for the next update. You are doing great.

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    1. Many thanks for your support Carol with you and many others enjoying the read when I get chance to write at least makes it all worthwhile and as many have said Sara lives on through my writing. Bless her.

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  12. Dave, I love your 'mozzy tent'. I bet they would go down a storm in Scotland. When you are sitting in there with a nice glass of hedgerow wine eating a chunk of your own goats cheese Sara will be smiling down on you with her lovely doggy friend by her side. They aren't gone love. Just out of sight.

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  13. I enjoy reading about your way of life, we don't have goats etc just a thug of a cat. We grow a few veggies and garden for pleasure / sanity. I love the insights into life in Bulgaria.

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  14. Looks nice. I Think the houseprices are still good in Bulgaria?

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    1. There are some bargains to be had her, but depends as to where you want as a location and what you want in aspects of house/land and realistically ideal if you are retired and have a good pension so you do ntot need to worry regarding money.

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  15. Just popping in to say I hope you're okay. I'm sure you're in full summer busy productivity mode but my family are rather attached to you and your late dear wife so we keep popping in for updates and send you are warmest wishes from a rather chilly Australia xx

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    1. Sorry for the delay in updates but as you can imagine things are a little hectic at the moment what with weather conditions and garden and new ventures. I hope to try and get an update put on this week when I get chance.Thanks for your concern Curly Club.

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    2. Absolutely no need to apologise Dave. You should blog if and when you feel like it, you've got quite enough on your plate. We are patient fans LOL. Take care.

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