Well, the time has come that I’ve been looking forward too with a mix of both relief and disappointment: drying off the goats. Drying off is steadily decreasing a doe’s milk production until the doe is dry. This is done so that the doe’s body is given a period of rest before her kids are born in the spring and to allow her body to recharge before another 10 months of milking commences. It also gives the farmer a bit of respite as well. That last part is important, because 6 am happens really, really early when it’s dark and cold.
We started drying Flora off this week, and then Pepper (whose kids are due second) will be dried off sometime early to mid February. I’m relieved because that means that barn chores will be cut down by about 20 minutes every day. I’m disappointed because that means no fresh milk for about 2 months. And I’m a little bit apprehensive as I’m not 100% certain that either goat is pregnant and will kid in the Spring. Why? Because even though we’ve learned a lot, we still don’t have much of a clue as to what we’re doing.
We’re pretty confident with Flora. She was compliant during her time with the buck and she’s getting bigger around the middle. Pepper wasn’t so eager when placed with the buck, so much so that we left her in all day without us around and we aren’t sure that mating was successful. She doesn’t appear to be getting any bigger, but then again she hid her pregnancy well last time too – I wasn’t sure she was pregnant until the evening that she went into labor. We could pay to have an ultrasound done, but that’s expensive and wouldn’t change the outcome; she won’t come into heat again until next fall, so it’s not like we would do anything differently.
So, with a wing and a prayer we’ll find out what happens come spring. Hopefully both does are bred and we’ll be back in milk sometime around Easter. If not… I don’t know. I might just have to find another doe in milk (because we really need FOUR goats, right?), because I’ve lost my taste for store boughten milk – the few times I’ve tried it over the last year it’s been difficult to choke down.
As with everything, we’ll just have to let nature take its course.