Well, it's that time of year, yet again. You know the one. It's that time of year when you start cutting back the ladies' protein and replacing it with fiber in an effort to dry up their milk supply. You do that, too, right? :)
It's a bittersweet time, indeed. I enjoy milking -- the quiet rhythms of familiar routine surrounded by animals that I love. I also enjoy the things the milk provides. Still, there's a bit of a deep exhale when the milking is complete for the year. Our leash to the farm can become a bit looser as we are able to enjoy more free time -- some of it off-farm. During the milking off-season, there are certainly still chores to be done, but without milking they are easily completed and farm helpers can step in once in awhile to allow us some freedom to roam for the holidays.
And, of course, we dry up our ladies to allow their bodies to rest and build up energy stores for pregnancy and delivery. We're hoping that Honey, Nutmeg, and Razz are all bred and will begin to look for kids in March. (Blood tests next month will hopefully confirm their pregnancies.)
Last Saturday's final farmer's market of the year and the end of milking season certainly mark a change of season for us. This new season is the season to clean the barn, take inventory, and begin planning for next spring when everything will be bustling and brimming with new life again.