Fall is here, and although that doesn't necessarily mean the humans are slowing down (lots of wood to chop, split & stack still), the goats and chickens have definately slowed down in their milk & egg production.
Nettie has been dried up since the beginning of the Summer because of her bout with Mastitis, and Annette's production has significantly dropped in the past three weeks; she's been milking for six months now. Ishtar is also slowing down, but is still putting out just under a gallon a day. She's been milking for five months now and I usually dry them up around eight months. I know they say you can milk them for up to ten months, but I really like to give them a full four months of their energy to go into their pregnancy.
In my quest to take full advantage of the abundant goat milk we had this summer, I've been making cheese (fresh, Queso Blanco kind'a stuff) and freezing some of it for the winter. It freezes pretty well, although it's best used as an ingredient in a meal like lasagna as there is some separating of the cheese & whey after defrosting. Works fine in a baked dish, but isn't as good used for spreading on crackers or toast as the consistency is different.
From a gallon and a half of milk, I'll get just under two pounds of fresh cheese and I have about a dozen packages in the freezer already. I've been toying with the idea of freezing a few half-gallon jugs of milk, but I don't think we'll have the freezer space with a 1/2 hog and hopefully a deer or two in the near future.
The chickens are also laying less. I've noticed a huge drop in egg numbers this past month. We have thirteen hens, but I've only been getting on average four eggs a day. The length of daylight is waning and there is an abundance of feathers in the bottom of the chicken coop as most have started moulting. It almost looks as if a chicken exploded.
There was a time last year when we wouldn't get a single egg for several days. And since I am an egg-snob, I wasn't buying them at the supermarket so we'd just do without. We have powdered eggs in our long-term pantry and I can use them in just about any baked product, but sometimes you just need to have a fried egg on toast, and those powdered eggs just don't hack it. I'm not looking forward to an egg-less winter. Not one bit. But if we're lucky, our Barnyard Mutts will just be starting to lay the first part of March and hopefully make up for any still-moulting older hens.
Enola Gay over at Paratus Familia just did a blog post about keeping eggs in Water Glass and although I've been tempted to try it, I think I'm just too "chicken" to do it. Although I suppose I should try it just for the experience.
Otherwise we'll do what we've done in the past; if the chickens aren't laying eggs, we're not eating eggs & if the goats aren't milking, we're not drinking milk. Hasn't killed us yet.....and it probably won't hurt my waist line either!