The Billy Rag

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So we've had one really rather upsetting setback this week, which Neil took on the chin and ... well I took it on the chin but then fell over.
It took me a day to regroup and then I just knew that we had to get back to being us. More us than we have been in years.
Yesterday's list included starting work on a hedge, and dealing with the unpregnantness of our goats.
First stop, the field, armed with sundry tools, to do some 'siding out' on our native hedge, which quite possibly reached an age worthy of cutting and laying this year, but unfortunately we haven't, so the least we can do is side it out. This is where you  take a machete (given the current circs not sure if it is wise for me to do this!) and take all the side growth of the hedge plants, thus encouraging thicker growth from below.
We drove into the field, said hello to the two Oxford Down rams who were skipping about in the dandruff effect we lovingly refer to as 'snow' and started work.  We got about a metre cleared. You have to clear dead weed growth, remove old tree guards and canes, saw off any branches which were actually stopping you doing your job - then, side up!
One tree in, we realised that one ram was lying down expiring.
Change of plan.*
Built a pen, got him in, gave him a shot of antibiotic and a dose of vecoxan and then set off to gather hurdles to make a pen for his brother.**

Then we set off to Pewsey to see a man about a billy rag. A billy rag, dear reader, is a bit of cloth which has been lovingly wiped all over the smelliest bits of a boy goat.
When you have girl goats but no boy goats, it is notoriously difficult to spot when they are in season. So the way you go about it is, you go and get a billy rag, and then you waft it optimistically at your girls on every encounter and when they get all unnecessary you chuck them in a trailer, and you take them to meet Mr Billy Right.

I love goat people. A nicer person you could not have hoped to meet. A young man in (I should say) his middle twenties, cheerfully mucking out his goats. And his mum and dad's goats. And his sister's goats. Apparently, his goat - well his and his wife's - was a wedding present. Well played, mum and dad, well played.

On a true smallholding, not far from the epically wonderful village of Pewsey, close to which we lived when we first moved to Wiltshire and which will always hold my heart, lives this mum and dad, with their goats and their pigs and their vintage John Deeres and their Landrover.  Father and son are carpenters by trade. As you can tell by the purpose built goat boxes.

We were introduced to goats and their pedigrees, we chatted about mutual goaty friends, and we enthusiastically wiped a large section of Boo's pyjamas from about six years ago all around the nether regions of a rather smart billy boy.***

The snow was falling and despite a tempting offer of a cup of tea, we set off for home, feeling just a little bit better about living where we do, and being where we are. Thank you, Ed, for being just an absolute top bloke.

*The hedge remains unsided out.

**The sorry ram is still indoors, he's perked up a bit , but sometime sheep will do that to you, just to lull you into a false sense of security before fulfilling their true life calling of dying.

***According to Neil, as yet, Linen and Lace have looked at the pink pyjama, but not tried to chat it up in any way.

We're completing the application forms to tender for a County Farm.
Chances of getting it = vanishingly small.
Hopes and Dreams = unbeliveably vast.


mel said...

oh dear re: languishing ram. fickle beasts sometimes, sheep.

chuckling over the billy rag...i'm envisioning the girls giving the pj's an eyelash-flutter.

after a particularly trying day at work this morning, i found my mind once again returning to goats and self-sufficiency and leap-taking and other sundry escapist musings.

what is a county farm, may i ask? i think hope outdoes the reality and therefore shall win out.

goat/sheep/vegetable/cow/fruit/poultry people are the best sort.


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