03 November 2009


Seeing these two goats at Mudchute reminded me of conversations that my friend and I used to have about our favoured goats one winter in Cornwall. Those letters reminded me of those conversations when she used to slyly ask me what goat I would keep if I could. She kept British Saanens (the white ones) - the wonderful Peonie, not the prettiest goat but a great milker; her daughter Pipkin, just like her mum; and the divine Strawberrie, the prettiest goat, beautiful conformation, neat little udder, frequent winner of best in show at the then Cornwall Dairy Goatkeepers Association. We used to take the goats out for walks over "the dumps", the area of mine wasteland up on the slopes behind the goatshed, she leading the way (very important that she established her authority apparently) , occasionally showing her superior knowledge of poisonous vegetation to her kidlings by spitting on it and stamping an angry foot. I don't think anyone other than me and the goats witnessed these demonstrations. Fortunately.

The goatkeepers of Cornwall were a lovely lot. Some of them lived on remote farms up in the misty wet hills with granitey fields, perfect for goats to caper on. My friend used to take her girls off in the back of a landrover to be mated with the hardy, bearded boys of good breeding. (The tough little Freelands Caesar 's line of descendants is probably longer than that of Abraham.) These goatkeepers did know how to party - any wine contributed at the annual Christmas party, home made or other, was put in the punch. It was strong stuff. And the raffle prizes were very desirable - a bale of hay, a giant pumpkin, a giant bunch of root vegetables. I won the pumpkin.

There is very little opportunity to use my scant knowledge of udder cream and goaty conformation to profitable use these days. But when I see the Mudchute goats, I still rather fancy having a little Anglo-Nubian (the one on the left in the picture, smiling for the camera), for these were the goats I fancied most, with Toggenbergs a close second. I don't think my friend ever quite forgave me for the betrayal.


Rattling On said...

Ahhh, now I'm for the uppy ears on goats. Along with fancy chickes, goats are the things I'd love to keep.

monix said...

It would be a Toggenberg for me, purely on the basis of the prettier face!

It is good to see that more people are keeping goats nowadays. When my son was a baby (30 years ago) he was allergic to cows' milk and it was very difficult to find goats' milk. My friend, who kept goats in Gloucestershire, used to drive to Portsmouth with a monthly supply for my freezer. Now, you can pick it up in any supermarket.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

I used to have a shopping bag with a picture of two Anglo-Nubian goats on the side.

Their features disconcerted me. They didn't look exactly 'goat like' . . . can't put my finger on it but . . . anyway, I kept potatoes in it rather than carry it about. Very useful!


Val said...

When I was a child I lived in a small hamlet in North Shropshire and before I can really remember the smallholding owned by Old Mr and Mrs Goodacre was sold to a Lady and her daughter who bred Anglo nubian goats, 'Goodacres' became 'Taveners' and the field opposite was brim full of inquisitive, elegant, curious creatures and I've had a fondness for Anglo nubians ever since.