One fine day, Kevin and I took our trusty ute (pickup truck) to the local quarry to pick up a load of gravel. Our cunning plan was to get several loads of gravel, and drive them up the hill to the site of the proposed cow shed. We’d then spread them on the site to avoid ending up with a muddy bog once the cows started walking over the ground near the shed.
Once the small scoop of gravel had landed in the bed of the truck, however, the plan didn’t look quite so cunning any more. The back tyres were obviously under a huge amount of pressure from the weight of the gravel. Kevin was concerned that the tyres might blow out on the trip back to the Farmlet. We drove home very slowly and carefully, and inched our way up the bumpy driveway. So much for our plans! There was no way we were prepared to risk taking the truck up the hill (over quite rough terrain) to the shed site with all that weight on the back. So, now we had the truck parked in the driveway, with a heavy load of gravel on the back, and no idea what to do next. It didn’t take us long to decide that walking up the hill to the shed site with little buckets of gravel just wouldn’t be worth the effort. The gravel looked too coarse and sharp for dumping on the driveway, and we couldn’t think where else to put it.
We wandered off to attend to some other chores as we pondered the dilemma. Eventually, inspiration struck. Plan B: Kevin very gingerly backed the truck partway down the driveway to the gate of the upper goat paddock. After laying down a piece of plastic pipe to form a culvert, he began to unload the gravel into the ditch between the driveway and the gate to the goat paddock. After a good deal of shoveling and spreading gravel, there it was: A Grand Goat Entrance, where before there had only been a damp, muddy ditch. This ditch had irked human and goat alike when coming and going from the goat paddock. We had planned to improve the entrance eventually, but with all the other jobs to be taken care of around the place, it wasn’t a high priority. We never thought that we’d have such a fine goat paddock entrance so soon!
This was a sobering lesson in respecting the limits of our machinery. We think we damaged the front ball joint during the exercise, and were lucky not to blow any tyres. On the positive side: Even though our plans for taking the gravel up the hill fell through, at least something worthwhile was achieved from the whole debacle.
And what do the goats think? Well, frankly, Daphne and Lulu are not very pleased with life just at the moment. It annoys them that we’ve fixed the fences around the goat paddocks such that they can no longer escape and trash various trees around the place. They also dislike the damp and cold of winter, and when the rain starts they bleat pathetically at us as if we are personally responsible for their misery. Since this is their first winter, I wonder if perhaps they can’t even imagine that the cold damp weather will end one day and spring will come again. Poor goats! I’m keeping lots of fresh, dry hay in their goat house, so that they have a cozy place to shelter, and trimming their hooves extra vigilantly to prevent foot-rot setting in as they tread the damp ground. We are also taking them extra fodder whenever we can. Today I pruned the herb garden and one of the olive trees, so they enjoyed sage and tarragon prunings, along with some nice olive branches. Both grunted with delight as they devoured bunches of sage.
The goats are growing up. They are eight months old now, and started going into season a couple of months ago. Now, as well as bleating about the rain and the wet grass, they are also periodically crying out to any passing billy goats. What a din. Just as well our neighbours don’t live too close! We hope no billy goats will respond to their call, since Daphne and Lulu are still much too young to be getting in kid. We need to wait until they are fully mature to breed them.
And yes, Daphne and Lulu do seem to appreciate having a nice gravelly entrance for coming and going from their paddock. They never did like having to put their dainty goat hooves into the damp ground in and around the ditch.