Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Drying Out Dahlia

At this writing the temperature is hovering at 33* - looks like not only will we have our first frost...but looks like we went straight to a freeze!

I hope these dahlias make it thru this cold morning!

You know what that means - any tomatoes that didn't get hauled in last nite are gonna be a squishy mess. I hope some of my herbs will be OK. And it also means that all this goat milking is over. You heard me, no one is happier than I am to finally get done with the milking season. No more screaming and complaining goats, no more buckets kicked, no more expensive hay to be bought. Done. Unfortunately that means the end of our "free" milk and all that lovely goat cheese comes to an end.

Dahlia, the world's most ridiculous goat.

To be sure this wasn't a great milking year. Nibbles was under-producing anyway probably because of all the babies she had. Debbie never freshened but has "milked thru" at below a quarter of her normal production this entire time. And if it weren't for Dahlia, the world's most ridiculous goat, we wouldn't have had any milk to speak of. We barely had enough milk for the house and the barnyard so we did not have a big cheesemaking year. This was very disappointing to me as I'm still carefully doling out the last of the hard cheeses from last summer.

Next year, with Debbie and Dahlia firing on both udders, we should be drowning in a sea of milk. But for now its time to turn off the tap.

Stunning.

As with everything else goat, if you ask a dozen goat people how to dry out your doe you'll get 45 different answers with varying degrees of insistence that their way is "right."  As with everything with me my answer is "do what is right for you."

Some people just stop milking their dairy goats with the theory that if the udder pressure builds up for five days or so then production will shut down. This cold turkey approach works, I'm sure, but frankly it gives me the heebiegeebies. And who wants to listen to their goat wail for a week?

So we take the gradual, step down approach. We dried off Nibbles over the last couple of weeks. First we stopped milking her at night...but slowly over time. For instance, I'd milk her half way out at night a couple times. Then I wouldn't milk her at all but let her come and eat on the stand a little. Then she just had to stand there and scream at the gate until the sad realization dawned over her that she was not getting an evening feeding. I do this for a couple reasons. First because small and mini goats really don't need a lot of bagged food if they have plenty to graze on and the weather is still good. Second, bagged food is expensive and its only for milkers. Around here "coffee is for closers."

Also, the first time I mistakenly fed her bagged food in the fall she totally chubbed up to the point that when I took her to the breeder the woman verily yelled at me, "WHAT DID YOU TO DO HER?" Mini goats have a dwarf gene so even a little food makes them fat fast. So Nibs is off bagged food until the babies start growing.

We used this same method for morning milking. I milked Nibbles for the last time late last week. In the mornings I only milked her about half way out for a couple days, then every other day for several more days, then ever third day. Then I gave her one last milking when it was clear she wasn't filling up her udder anymore.

I'm using the same approach with Dahlia. But because Dahli is such a heavy producer it will take a little longer. I milked her half way out for the last week for evening milkings. This week I'll just make sure that there isn't a lot of pressure on her udder and just give her a couple squeezes at night. By the end of the week I won't even call her to the stand.

I can tell she is making less milk because she is producing less and less in the the morning milking (I'm still milking her all the way out). I'll move thru the "half way out for a few days" this week and eventually turn off the tap within 10 days.

In the meantime I'm gathering all the milk I can from her and making small, fresh cheeses. I might be able to get enough milk for a feta but basically either I get that milk - or the little pigz get it.


I'd be happy to have a field of these dahlias. A field of Dahlias would make me insane.

So that's the story on drying out the goats. I'll be making arrangements soon for the ladies to go on "dates" with a local buck. Heaven knows there is no way I'm bringing a buck here.

Happy Monday everyone - are you drying out your dairy does?


5 comments:

freemotion said...

Not yet. I'm still getting almost a gallon a day (total) from my girls and need to get some soft cheese in the freezer and some milk for our use. I'll probably milk through December. *shivers* We had a low milk year here, too.

Chai Chai said...

At twilight on a still evening OFG and her dog clan hunkered down around the pulsing warmth of the wood stove to share a few crumbles of the remaining hard cheeses. During a pause in the revelry Zander's hackles began to rise and OFG waved a hand signal of warning. As they strained their ears in the deafening silence they could hear just the soft whisper of an echo of sound coming from the goat pen.

Princess Kai, who had the sharpest ears of them all, couldn't discern the individual voices but she began to translate the muffled words.

Seems the does were singing a song of longing and desire, a sad song of lost love and lusts long ago full filled. OFG noted that even Kia, a stone cold killer, had a crack in her voice as she repeated the sad lamentations that the chanting does cried into the cold emptiness of the dark.

OFG closed her eyes and picked up the tiniest hint of the rhythm and began to slowly sway from side to side with the haunting tune. The heat from the fire seemed to become oppressive and sweat bled down her suddenly reddened face - her temples pounding. A vividly real image forcefully imposed itself into her minds eye, OFG's eyes popped open as she lurched to her feet and two words tumbled from her parched mouth and dry lips...Too Short!

nancy said...

"turn off the tap", that's funny.

David said...

No does... but did pull in green tomatoes yesterday - got 5 lbs, seems pickles and fried green deliciousness are in my future. Enjoy your cheese!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Free - I'm not milking that ridiculous goat until Dec. ugh!

Chai Chai - say it isnt so NOT Too Short!!! i wonder where that guy is right now.. hum...

thanks, Nancy!

thanks Dave - I had some fried green tomatoes yesterday! yum!

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