As you know, we try to do things around here in a natural way. It makes for healthier, happier critters.
We've bred 5 goats and are expecting babies to begin arriving the last week of February. Two of those expectant mommas are currently providing us milk. But, as they reach the final months of their pregnancies, they need to put their calories and energy into growing healthy babies rather than providing us milk. So, we will give them a milking break beginning next week.
Our regular milk customers have, of course, known this was coming for quite some time and have made plans to allow for this break in production.
As I prepare to "dry off" Nutmeg and Honey, I'm trying something new this year. Beginning this week, I changed up their diet to prepare them for drying off. I've reduced their protein and upped their fiber in order to slow their milk production. I've read about how this can ease the discomfort involved with stopping milking and reduce the risk of mastitis and engorgement. And, so far, I've been amazed at how much this diet change has reduced their production.
The ladies are NOT pleased with the change. Nutmeg, who is big and slow and old and wise, just kind of looks up at me from her bowl, as if sighing and saying, "beets again, huh?" Honey, all spry and crazy, jumps up on the milk stand, and acts surprised by the food offering every time, though she's had it for 8 meals in a row now. She roots around in the bowl like a crazy critter, searching for the good stuff and flinging all this other crud out of her bowl. Ugghh. I love her despite it all.
I will miss my quiet mornings on my milking stool. But, I am looking forward to the babies that will arrive soon and am thankful for a little bit of a milking break. It seems that the natural way of things is for winter to be a season of rest. The days are shorter, the cold encourages us to warm ourselves indoors, and the animals require rest that gives us rest in turn.