|Dot will miss her fresh milk daily!|
Drying off a doe - getting them to quit making milk - is going to take us about six weeks. Like everything around here, we're going to do it fairly naturally. We have started this week by going to milking just once a day, in the morning. The first night was quite amusing - we went up to the barn at our usual time but instead of taking out a doe, we just gave them a little grain ration to share, right in their pen. Mabel, always first to get milked, stood up on the gate, watching and waiting. She didn't head for the grain, she kept waiting to be taken out of the pen. From there, usually, she would go on the milking stand and get her own (private) grain ration to enjoy at her leisure. As we gave a little grain to the kids, tossed a little scratched for the chickens in the barn and fed the cats, Mabel continued to watch our every move from the gate. She seemed to be in disbelief. Feeling sorry for her, we put a little more grain ration in the girls' bowl, taking the scoop right past her to entice her, then said good night and turned out the lights.
The next morning we went up a little early, not sure what to expect. None of the does seemed in any discomfort, although all three were very enthusiastic about heading for the milking stand when their turn came. There was no bulging milk bags, no cries of pain - all things we thought possible. Mabel and Chocolate produced about the usual amount of milk, Goldie produced a little more than usual. Again, in the evening, we just put everyone to bed as usual, giving the does a little grain ration in their pen. During this week, this has easily become the new normal with no problems. We'll do this for a couple of weeks, lessening the grain ration that they receive each morning, which will also help with the transition. In a couple of weeks time, we'll go to milking every second morning, then milking every three days, then we'll just stop. And with that, the does will be dried off, ready to grow beautiful, healthy kids!
We'll miss our fresh, raw milk. We're an all-goat-milk-all-the-time household right now. We do have milk frozen, which will get us by for a while. Probably late winter, before the new kids are born, we'll have to buy commercial milk. We're not looking forward to it: our fresh milk is beautiful and delicious! Probably, the one who will miss it the most is our little barn kitty 'pet' Dot, who is in the habit of following us to every milking and getting a little bowl of fresh, warm milk to enjoy!