Dairy time is about done for us here. The does have all been dried off, and have very likely already been re-bred by our escape-artist of a buck, Buckley. So we'll be buying milk until February at least, but not having to milk in the cold and wet makes the trade off quite fair.
On a day like this, when I'm missing my goat milk in my coffee, I come across a post from a fellow farm chick, Matron at Throwback at Trapper Creek. She has a gorgeous Guernsey, Jane, who gives her four gallons of milk per day. I have a mild case of cow envy.
Sure, we'd drown in 4 gallons per day, but the stuff is golden and just...amazing. I could make a whole different assortment of cheeses, and enough butter that I wouldn't have to hit up Costco whenever a baking jag hits. And we could feed the extra to the pigs that we plan to get this Spring. Oh, the things I could do with all that milk...
But, we only have 3 1/2 acres.
A full acre of that land (the bog) is under water 9 months out of the year.
We have well water and a septic system, which means that we basically recycle the same water constantly. I try really hard to maintain balance in those systems by not overwhelming the septic with chemicals, phosphates or tons of cow poo. Goat poop is in "jellybean" form, and can be cleaned up/moved easily, and breaks down slowly. A giant cow pat in the rain will end up running off into our bog, and eventually our septic/well system. Simply put, it would just be too much for our little foothold to handle.
We've already committed to pigs this coming late Winter/early Spring. And their care and "output" will be plenty for this little farm to take on. The reason that we green-lit the pig idea, rather than the cow, was primarily because there is an end date to it. The pigs will be with us for no longer than 9 months, at which point we can evaluate whether the cost/work/impact was worth the trouble.
So, for the foreseeable future, goats will be where our dairy begins and ends. And really, these little gals do a pretty bang-up job of providing us with milk for our coffee, little batches of snowy white butter, some really intense aged parmesan, and the secret ingredient for our lovely homemade soaps.
These are the gals who make it happen. Thanks again, girls.