So a number of critical things needed to happen last week in order for us to be ready to finally bring goats to our small holding. Well, good luck was certainly on our side - the fencing was completed, the barn end doors (which are actually two cladded monster field gates) were hung, we both passed our exams to get our Certificate of Confidence which allows us to transport both goats and pigs AND we had another fab visit to Meg and Damian at Moat Goats to learn how to vaccinate and ear tag.
With the trailer duly hitched, straw bedding laid and picnic lunch prepared we retired early, ready for a very early start on Sunday morning. Whether it was nerves or excitement, neither of us could sleep so it was a bleary eyed start at 04:30. Poor Dave had to take the first driving shift whilst I periodically nodded off and I took over once we were over the bridge into England... my first time towing the trailer!
250 miles (ish) later we arrived at Puddleduck Valley in Devon and were warmly welcomed by Phil and Mel. If you ever fancy a family friendly holiday in Devon where you and the children can have a go at lots of countryside pursuits then take a look at their website: Puddleduckvalley.co.uk - it really is a lovely place.
We had written down lots of questions to ask and what to check - this kind of went a bit pear shaped thanks to Gloria. Gloria is an older girl and was not on our original wish list. Gloria however did exactly what our first Border Collie Tommy did when we saw him at Battersea (Dog and Cat rescue centre) - fixed me with quiet lovely eyes, leaned in and gently nuzzled... Gotcha! Fell for it hook line and sinker. Actually it's not a bad idea to have an older doe - bit of a matriarch to keep the youngsters in line and hopefully one to calm our nerves when it comes to kidding time.
We then chose a 2.5 year old Doe called Tiggy - so another who has already kidded. Then it was on to the youngsters - Buttercup, Fern, Speckle, Paris and Barcelona. Phil and Mel gave us an extra Doeling for free - Feather was a quad (it does happen) and is quite small so consequently does get bullied, poor little soul. How could we not bring her home?
With Phil and Mel's help we loaded the girls and set off on the long 250 mile journey home.. at a max speed of 60 mph. Dave took the first shift to get us out of the narrow lanes and I took over just before the bridge - my second time towing a trailer, this time loaded with livestock.. I'd class that as experienced (we'll brush over the fact that I can only tow forward!)
So here is the rogue's gallery!
We managed to get home just before the light faded, the girls very kindly unloaded in an orderly fashion, in our absence the piglets had decided not to attempt a break out and the hens didn't berate me too harshly for making them wait for their afternoon corn. By the time the goats, pigs, hens and dogs had been fed we just about managed to slap together some chip butties (you can take the girl out of Lancashire) for us and drag ourselves off to bed.. suffice to say, sleep came easily!
So all went perfectly and we are thrilled to bits with our starter herd.. I guess now the fun really begins!