Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Year End Goat Review

Must all good things come to an end?
Ishtar is the only goat I'm milking now.  And this is what I'm getting each day:
Six cups of milk, and I'm savoring each drop!
And each day it's a little less.  But I suppose I shouldn't be complaining.  It's the end of December and I'm still getting fresh milk.
Kidding started in mid-March and didn’t end until the end of May; I purposely staggered the kiddings so I could get milk year-round.   At one point this Spring, I had fourteen goats running around.  What was I thinking???  Spring through Fall I sell three or four gallons of milk a week, and I often give some to a friend.  But even then, there were times I was swimming in milk. 
And even though we had a problem with Nettie going through a bout of Mastitis & being dried up, and I ended up selling Cloud in July, I was still able to get more than enough milk from Annette and Ishtar during the summer and fall.....and now even into winter.
I started drying up Annette in the beginning of December and she stopped producing almost immediately after limiting her grain & not milking her.  What a drastic difference compared to Nettie.  Nettie wants to keep putting out milk, no matter how much I ration her grain.  I think that's one of the reasons she lost so much weight last year / this spring.  So even before I realized that she had Mastitis, I had decided to let her wean her kids and then stop milking her so she'd put some weight back on.  Which thankfully she did over the summer and fall.  And you know what?  I really didn't miss the extra milk.
We can only drink so much (even with Ovaltine!), drench so much cereal with milk, make so many quiches, make so much fresh cheese, yogurt, etc..   It think it would be different if I actually started making hard / aged cheeses though, so that is really on my list of things to learn (how to do successfully, that is) next year.
I also have to decide if I’m going to continue selling milk.  There are only two people who buy it from me, and although it does help a little with the feed bills I wonder if it’s worth the trouble.  Well, I guess it’s really not that much trouble as I’d still have to milk, clean up, bottle & cool the milk for us anyhow.  Ugh. 
Decisions, decisions.
Anyhow, since I went another year without finding a Boer buck for Ishtar, everyone was bred to Pan.  The 2012 kidding schedule looks like this:
Nettie due: February 16th Annette due: March 12th Ishtar due: April 29th May 22nd
This is the earliest I’ve ever had a kidding scheduled.  I used to have them planned around the first part of April, but since I want to continue an almost-year-round supply of milk, the dates had to be earlier (and later).
But back to my current milk supply.  Since Nettie is due the middle of February, that means even if I dried Ishtar up tomorrow, we’ll only be without fresh milk for less than two months. 
Maybe I should start drying her up.  It would be nice to not have to milk for a while.   But it would also be nice to have fresh milk every day.
Decisions, decisions.


  1. My break was a bit shorter....Gabby and Champagne were our only milkers for several months, then I dried up Gabby first, then Champ....then Gabby gave birth after only about a month break from milking Champagne. So...Gabby is back to milking.Patches (who is a bad milker, but a good breeder) is due the end of the month, then Champ, then Molly, then Lily and Nina. All mine should kid by the end of March. We are NOT breeding next year, as we plan to move in early 2013.....although the fella thinks breeding would be okay and we could move with preggo goats just as easily.

  2. Six cups a day is still a pretty good amount! I now have two does of breeding age and I am breeding one one year and the other the next year so that I can milk one through until the other kids. So far, it's working! I'm still getting three quarts a day from Madeline. I too miss my milk and hate to have to buy it!

  3. But the best thing is that you HAVE wonderful, healthy goat milk for the family! Even if it works out that you don't get a break from the milking. I remember when we had the goats and a couple of periods when no one was in milk, I actually missed the actual milking time. No, not the processing or cleaning up, I will admit, but I loved having each individual goat on the stand and "bonding" with her while milking. (Do I sound crazy?)

  4. I love reading about this, and what a great resource you have available!

  5. Lamb, not sure how far you guys are moving, but I wouldn't think that if they were bred & not too close to giving birth that they would be ok moving. But then again I guess it depends on how stressed your gals get when they get into a trailer. Oh, and are your fellow bloggers going to be in on the big move? Details, details!

    Candy, I know, I shouldn't complain, but what else would I do? :)

    Mama Pea, not sure if I really miss the milking time because by the end of the milking year, it's cold outside and all I can think of is getting out of the barn! Oh, and yes, you do sound crazy. But not necessairly because of this post.

    Erin, glad you like reading about it, sometimes these things get kind'a boring to read, even by me! But it's a great farm journal to have.

  6. This morning was my last milking...I went to every other day milking and they aren't even full when I check, so I decided I'm done. Drew a big fat unhappy face on the lid of the milk jar this morning...I miss my milk and milking already!!!

    Just waiting for March!