Over the Christmas holidays we noticed that a few of the fence posts in the donkey field were looking nibbled, this is not something we have ever suffered from before but Farmer Nick was curious enough to take a good look around their field. Half way up he spotted one internal gate completely chewed away and another barely holding together. It appears our donkeys have a new passion in life and it isn’t our delicious orchard apples, the fine hay, maize or lush grass they have in ample supply!
It was time for drastic measures, with the first dry day in weeks we were keen to complete so many farm jobs that we had been holding off due to the weather, but suddenly moving the donkeys became a priority before they escaped completely to free range on the estate.
It was the poor old goats who had to sacrifice their field. They had only enjoyed their favourite winter field, together with Billy Goat Gruff, for a couple of weeks before they had to move back out again in favour of the donkeys. The goat field happened to be the only one with fence posts on the outside of the fencing and the gates made of steel.
Just that morning we had moved Sprout, our hand raised goat from the chickens in with the other goats, she was first out for the second move of the day, bless her I think she thought she was returning to her friends, the chickens, where she ruled the roost!
As goats have a clear hierarchy of social acceptance Nick put a divide up as he was worried Sprout might be rejected by the other goats and not allowed into the shelter, this way we hoped she could stay dry without upsetting those who think they are in charge. Sprout and Rocky, our two hand raised goats were with Nick and the boys the whole time this was going on taking first nibbles on the new straw bedding.
With the goats safely moved it was time to turn our attention to the Donkeys who were full of carrot and apple from the guests that morning
I wasn’t at all sure they would be interested in us after all their morning treats but they happily followed guy and Nick down the field in single file. From here it was head collars on and a short walk into their new nibble proof field where we gave them a quick brush up before letting them free.
Curious about this new found behaviour I Googled it to find that we are not the only ones having stables, fences and decks chewed. Amongst all the advise and theories the most common reason was boredom, I have to say in the vast field they have with trees and deer and sheep for neighbours it is hard to imagine they could be bored. Then it dawned on me, we had been closed for 6 weeks and they must have missed the daily fuss being made of them by our holiday guests, suddenly the boredom theory had credence. They enjoyed a wonderful Christmas holiday and we are now taking time to give them a stroke, make a fuss of them and groom them with my super new Slip Not Bentley kit whenever I can until we open again at February half term.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.