<![CDATA[BILBERRY GOATS HERITAGE TRUST - Blog]]>Tue, 14 May 2024 15:03:44 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[BIRTHING]]>Thu, 04 Jan 2024 23:26:22 GMThttp://bilberrygoatsheritagetrust.com/blog/birthing
It was a cold and windy morning as I made my way over to the Rock. King Puck was looking down the cliffs. I was missing a foxy coloured and white nanny, that I called Sarah. I knew she was about to give birth soon and wondered where she was. I searched in the small coves of the Rock, where there was shelter, but there was no sign of her. Then I went back to where I saw King Puck standing and there she was, grazing down the cliffs. On either side of her not far away, were two male yearlings.

I learned throughout the following days and weeks that whenever a nanny went down the cliffs to have their kids, King Puck always sent down two male yearlings to accompany them.  This was to protect the nanny at a vulnerable time against predators.

Their intelligence and caring attitude to one another amazed me.

Sarah had one kid, a little female who was the image of herself. She stayed down the cliff, nursing her kid for two weeks and then brought her up when she was strong enough, to introduce her to the herd.

Sarah was a 'direct line, true to type' nanny of the Bilberry Goat Herd.  
<![CDATA[tHE rUT]]>Thu, 04 Jan 2024 23:23:57 GMThttp://bilberrygoatsheritagetrust.com/blog/the-rut
The Rut
All the goats were on Bilberry Rock today as I made the last check on them at around 4pm this evening. The wind was westerly, blowing my scent away from them so that I would not be detected. There was a lot of activity going on with the goats.. It was the ruting season. I stood behind a blackberry bush to observe them.

King Puck was with four junior pucks (his lieutenants). He was organizing a fight between the junior pucks to pick the strongest of the four.  Standing on one side, away from them was Queen Nanny, with the rest of the nannes and kids. One male yearling broke loose and ran to join the puck fight, but he was quickly ushered back to his place by Queen Nanny. King Puck bleated loudly. 

The junior pucks head butted with their heavy handlebar horns. Every head butt reverberated through the air. King Puck was the referee and each of the four pucks were put through their paces. At the end of the fights, each puck was pared off with a nanny. King Puck did not fight. As leader of the herd, he could choose a nanny of his choice. He went missing for three days and I wondered where he was. One of the senior nannies was also missing. Leo, security man in the brewery  contacted me to say that King Puck was with a nanny at the back of the brewery and both seemed to be ok.

It was a privilege to see this goat ruting ceremony taking place. It was fascinating to observe and it gave me a greater understanding of their social behaviour. 

The following spring, King Pucks offspring was a strong and  sturdy little brown and white male kid. A future leader of the Herd. 
<![CDATA[mICROCLIMATE]]>Thu, 04 Jan 2024 23:21:12 GMThttp://bilberrygoatsheritagetrust.com/blog/microclimate
​Bilberry Rock and environs has a microclimate. It is an elevated site, open to prevailing winds. It is also beside the River Suir. Wind speeds of 100mph have been recorded in the area.
The Bilberry goats down through the centuries have lived through these climatic conditions and adapted to them.
As a result of the weather conditions on Bilberry Rock and environs,  it means the vegetation in the area is greatly reduced, due to the severe cold winds/rain in the area.  The Bilberry goats habitate down through the centuries extended from the Brewery behind Bilberry Rock to the old Red Iron Bridge, which is two miles up river. This habitat is needed as it   includes a wider range of vegetation - herbs etc. even in wittertime, which has vital  noutrients for the Bilberry goats. 
<![CDATA[Diary of a Bilberry Goat Welfare officer]]>Mon, 10 May 2021 15:32:55 GMThttp://bilberrygoatsheritagetrust.com/blog/diary-of-a-bilberry-goat-welfare-officerPicture

​Christmas Day 1997

It was Christmas Day and the weather throughout that week was extremely bad. Hurricane winds and incessant heavy rain. Winds up to 100mph. I could not get to Bilberry Rock to feed the goats all week.

On Christmas Day the winds were still very high but the rain had abated a little. I knew I had to make an attempt to bring feed to the goats, as I could not sit down to Christmas dinner with the thought of those poor animals starving on the Rock.

My thoughts were with the nannies/doe's who were due to kid at any moment. My heart went out to them. The urge to help them was strong. Emotion probably overruled my head regarding safety. My family were totally against it and I got a berating from them.
I packed three large bags with hay and set off towards the Rock. The winds tearing at the bags, trying to pull them from my grip. It was a struggle just walking and keeping upright. I prayed with every step that I took for protection. A five minute walk turned into a twenty five minute journey, as the winds came against me and I could not catch my breath.

Finally, I got to the Rock, the high pylons rattling as the winds screamed  through them and I hung on to the chainlink fencing surrounding the electricity compound, for dear life. I looked down at the river, it was fast flowing, grey and angry looking. There was no sign of the goats. Panic set in. I had come so far and I could not turn back now. I had to find them or at least let them know I was there. I called out with as much force as I could muster. Then, one by one, they appeared over the Brewery wall. They ran towards me bleating. They were starving and seemed to be so glad to see feed. They gathered around me as I dispersed the hay by pushing it into the gorse bushes and chainlink fencing, while crawling on my knees. It was rough and I was terrified of being blown off the cliff.

I stayed for a moment to watch them feed. My focus was drawn to the scrawny animals before me, with the heavy clumps of hair clinging to the sides of their coats (which is a sign of bad nutrition). They were wet and cold and in need of care and attention.
I gave a sigh of relief as I made my way home. At least I showed them that someone did care.