You may recall that last year our friend Pietro brought some of his horses to graze on our land at Tre Cancelle, to help keep the grass short in the olive groves. Pietro has about 12 horses in all and has a small farm surrounded by the Aurunci mountains where he also keeps a herd of goats, some chickens and sometimes a pig.
We have taken to visiting him often as we are keen to learn about keeping livestock.
Pietro’s two teenage boys are amazing, they willingly help him with the daily chores on the farm, they are so hard working.
Each afternoon after school the boys, Mirko and Matteo, take the herd of goats out for a long walk so they can graze freely along the hedgerows.
One of our first visits was in January, while Emma and Aneurin were still here.
Aneurin was totally fearless amongst the goats.
I, however, was a little more hesitant as I can recall visiting a farm zoo as a child, and becoming most upset when one of the goats started to eat the buttons off my coat !!!
However, slowly I am becoming braver. Each one has a different character, apparently some have horns and some do not. They are very inquisitive, but they don’t really want to do you any harm.
We were surprised to see that a young puppy was living with the goats in the barn. He is a beautiful Maremma sheepdog, an ancient breed used for guarding flocks of sheep or goats. As the dog grows up with the goats a strong bond develops and they become very loyal to the flock and will protect them against danger.
Pietro told us that before long the pregnant goats would be giving birth. We returned a week or two later to see some of the babies.
When we arrived many of the mother goats were out on their constitutional walk so the babies were left bleating in the barn on their own. They were so cute !!!
This mother had only given birth a few hours earlier.
Soon we could hear the clanking of bells signalling the return of the flock and the babies bleated eagerly awaiting their mothers.
At first there seemed to be great confusion but we soon realised that the boys had already learned who belonged to who and deftly began pairing up each mother with its offspring, latching them on to their mothers’ teets. The boys then helped put fresh hay into the racks for the adult goats to eat.
We returned a few weeks later, and my how the babies had grown !!!
They skittishly ran back and forth from one end of the barn to the other.
Now they were no longer totally dependent on their mothers’ milk. Pietro said he would soon think of making some fresh Marzolino goats cheese.
Here are some of Pietro’s cockerels and chickens.
Hopefully before too long we will get around to getting some chickens of our own !!!
And I may have talked Paul into getting a few goats to graze on the hill and amongst the wood !!!
Thank you Pietro for being such a good friend and for sharing your invaluable knowledge.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott
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