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:


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


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…