Hi everyone, I am so sorry for the delay in posting and thank you for recent messages from some followers enquiring if I am okay as it has been a while since I last posted.
All in all things are ticking along fine, well that is more of an understatement as much of the time it is more like speeding along, it does not seem that it has been over six months ago the day my beloved Sara died in my arms and now face the future alone albeit with her memories in my mind and her spirit by my side. I feel I like I am coming to terms without her and my loss, the weight I carry of her passing will always be there, but gradually I am building the strength to carry that weight. Some days I still stumble and trip so that the weight is heavy and other days my inner strength enables me to carry it as though it was as light as a feather, but that is the process of greiving I suppose. There are days when the slightest thing can trigger an emotionl meltdown of which there have been quite a few recently as the post will highlight and other days where I can almost feel guilty at feeling happy, yes happy which has been a long time coming. So now for the update....
First of all there will be only a few photos as sadly my computer decided to go up in smoke, literally and so before going on I had better apologise to those who also follow me on Facebook as many photos will be from posts that I had placed on there. So were to start.
The goat herd increased with the birth of two kids, sadly both billy kids. Pretty much on cue Millie gave birth to them at 6am in the morning just as I was about to feed the chickens and ducks before dealing with the goats. I had an idea that she was due to kid as the night before as she could not wait to get into her stall with Tilly. As I went out I heard her give an almighty bellow and there was the first kid, named Eric on the deck with mum cleaning him. Having kidded before (Tilly being her daughter) she knew exactly what to do . In the time that it took me to feed the poultry she then delivered the second kid Ernie all in a matter of five to ten minutes. The event was exciting, but also tinged with sadness, one that both were billies, but at least they were healthy and strong, but the thought of wishing Sara had been here to see the event and the kids. By the end of the day both kids were feeding regularly and all was calm in the stall and with Tilly taking no notice of them during the day.
In just a month they have grown at a phenemomenal rate and spend much of the play sparring with each other or getting up to miscief.
Millie and her kids on the day they were born.
Eric and Ernie growing on and causing havoc
One of the chicken houses as I have downsized the flock has now been converted into a seperate stall
for my billy Isaac as soon it will time for him to come into his own when he is in rut. I decided to house him in the furthest house as when he is in full rut he will be a little smelly. Already he has started urinating on his front legs and has a certain fragrance of his own. It is hoped by housing him seperate his smell will not taint the milk from the girls. During the day he is housed with the girls and given access to the enclosure which I need to divide so I can choose optimum matings times with selected herd members. I plan to get Duchess and Tilly mated at the end of September so kids will hopefully be due at the end of February and then Naya and Millie mated in February all being well. This will enable me to one, have sufficient room for seperate batches of kids and more importantly two, have a consistant supply of milk for cheese making. The Novo Nachalo Goat Cheese production is going at full tilt to the extent that I am currently buying in milk to cater for orders as Duchess is the only goat that I am milking at the moment and her yield has gone down too the extent in the next week I will stop milking her to enable her to bulk up a little before she is mated. By then Millies kids will have been weaned and I will start milking her.
Sadly a major loss occurred the other day with the sudden loss of Naya, I must admit my favourite goat. The day before she died she was playing with the kids Eric and Ernie and at feed time was following me around as normal at the end of the day wanting her feed when they are locked in. Wen in her stall she ate as normal and then started eating lucerne and checking the stall at 6am in the morning she was dead. Immediately I removed her and Ducehss from th stall and cleaned it out wilst I waited for our local vat in the village who helped deal with Millie when she had bloat to arrive to carry out an autopsy. On arrival she carried the autopsy out and confirmed she had ded of bloat!!!! This amazed me as she died so suddenly and showed no signs as Millie did. Talking to friends who also ave goats they fee that possibly the stress of the inital start of bloat caused her to have a heart attack which may seem likely as during the night I did not hear her crying out and that where she died in the stall was where she normally slept. A huge gap left in the herd as she was such a sweetheart and will sorely be missed and as a founder herd member for the Novo Nachalo herd an even bigger blow. There is a saying 'when working with livestock you occasionally have dead stock' but with the series of event to date over the year I had a feeling what is going to happen next. The rest of the herd are fine at the moment and so now there is a need to look for a new founder Anglo Nubian to reestablish the group for the future.
A sorely missed Naya
Well due to the continuous long spells of high temperatures being in the upper thirties constantly for the last six to eight weeks it has taken its toll on the vegetable patch. At th moment potatoes that have now died back and are still in the ground as my neighbour decided to give me a crate full. The pepper plants are producing well, but again my neighbour provided me with a bucket full of them, so now after placing some on the barbeque and char grilling them several have been skinned and de-seeded and placed in the freezer for soups in the winter. Others have been finely sliced and then sun-dried in a box covered with aluminium foil and stored in jars again for soups. The tomatoes and cucumbers have pretty much gone over now and although plenty of produce most of the tomates were small cherry ones, not the large tomatoes which are good for making the traditional Bulgarian Shopka salad. I could have bottled them as Sara used to do, but frankly I simply do not have the time or the inclination. I know placing everything in the freezer is like putting all your eggs in one basket, but many days for me start at 4.30-5am and I do not actualy sit down for something to eat until sometimes 9pm and the meal regularly is salad or omelette or simply a sandwich for as unlike Sara who enjoyed cooking and enjoying the fruits of her labour, eating to me is a means of surviving.
The amount of weeds growing in the garden is phenomenal and thank goodness my sister and her husband were over for the week and they avidly helped clear weeds and help out with other jobs especially help construct dividing fences so that I can seperate Isaac my billy gota from the girls as required to have him mate them at appropriate times so kids are not born when the weather is still very cold.
I have managed to construct a garden pond in the garden, a thing that Sara always wanted, but sadly I never got round to where at the end of the day I sit with a beer and contemplate and try to 'chillax' before going to bed. A friend provided me with a water lilly which will come into its own next year hopefully and will attract a bit of pondlife.
The dogs Bella and Grace are fine and during the heat of the day along with the cats Charlie and Spud are flat out indoors trying to keep cool and in the evening then are regularly playing in the garden with each other.
The chicken flock is gradually reducing in numbers as many are cockerels and now that they are maturing are causing problems in the flock. Many will end up in the freezer as I have had no buyers when trying to sell them and so next year I will not be breeding them. At the moment I have a broody hen and so purchased some Seabright bantam eggs to put under her so will be interesting to see what comes of them.
Goat cheese production is still going well and at the last carboot sale sold out of a new variety Chopped Walnuts and Honey (all home produced). The bees have not produced as much hney as expected after extracting it simply due to the long periods of heat and lack of flowers for food and so in order for them to prepare for winter they have been removing honey from the upper frames were te honey would have been extracted and placing it in the brood chamber.
Crushed Walnut and Honey Goat Cheese
Now where is that honey.
So as the year draws on I would be lying if everything is good. Some days I just want to give up and not exist. The hardest part of all of it is that before Sara died I had an incentive to do what we were doing for her as well as myself and now it is very hard on occasions to maintain that incentive. I have suffered from depression before in my earlier years where I felt alone and had no self value feeling I could not go on and so realise times where it is essential for me to avoid going to such places and no matter how hard it is I have to pull myself up and go on, but from recent events as already decribed and many more that lifting myself up can be very hard at times. Along with other ongoing issues that are out of my hands there have been times when I think to myself 'why am I putting myself through this torture' for at times that is what it is, but life has to have its ups and down for one to appreciate the good. I try now to not dwell on things that are out of my control and concentrate to the positives, but when at a low even such things as the dog not wanting its food can cause me to falter along the road ahead. I have become stressed because with the amount of work that requires doing and the ever expanding list of jobs that need doing continues to grow and I think when will I get them done, but slowly, but surely I have begun to accept that I have to let things go and that next year food production will be reduced as I cannot manage the garden alone and so half of the garden will be put down to lucerne for feed for the goats.
They say 'real men don't cry', but long hours, lack of sleep through worry of what lies ahead, limited funds, where should I go and what should I do along with missing Sara so much, crying for me is pretty much a daily event, but I question any man to say that I am not real or strong.
Whilst my sister and her husband where here we managed to temporarily put a fence around Sara's grave. The process of constructing it was emotional to say the least and I still go up there as rgularly as possible for a coffee and 'time out'.
So as this one man band continues on with life I also know that Sara will be with me as I struggle on through daily life for as frivalous as it may seem I have moi angel pazitel (my gaurdian angel) with me every day and know that she will be with me until the day I die.
God Bless you Sara
Take care guys and I am sorry for the delay in posting recent updates at Novo Nachalo Ranch.