by Max Akroyd

Today’s weather made a slow transition from very rainy to merely overcast and the forecast is promising for the remainder of the week.

Despite the muddiness, I completed the strawberry bed I’ve been working on. I needed something to fill the twenty metres of trench, and the need to clean out the goat house offered excellent potential in this regard. There ensued a circular process whereby the contents of the goat house floor were collected, emptied into the trench and fresh straw taken back to the goat house. Half-a-dozen trips and the trench was full, the goat house clear and the goats completely mystified as to what the point of the exercise was…

I like all our animals, but the goats are the most interesting characters. Pigs, say, are fun, and familiar because they’re clever like dogs are. Goats are different: they have a watchful intelligence and a gentle spirit. They can be infuriatingly stubborn though, and from a practical point of view we’ve managed to acquire a pair of questionable utility.

They are a breed which is, I understand, unique to Brittany and Normandy: Chèvres des Fossés. I can’t find much information about them except, as the name suggests, they were used to clear ditches in days gone by and to provide a little milk for peasant families: ‘enough to raise two children’ apparently. This is our one year old posing in her new straw:

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Today, on our afternoon stroll, we met this guy!

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The photo doesn’t do justice to his stature. He must have been nearly two metres from toe nail to the tip of his horns. Suffice it to say, I didn’t hang around to debate the merits of the breed…