Spring on the farm is the beginning of life after the rest and revitalization that is winter. In March, we bought a dozen new baby chicks to become our new egg laying flock and 12 goat kids were born…8 bucklings, 4 doelings, all healthy and ready to nurse and scamper and pirouette.
The excitement and anticipation of their birth brought with it something else: lots of work.
Five new mama goats now means five goats to milk, twice a day. Just like human females, when a female goat has babies, the milk starts flowing.
At our farm, the babies nurse full time for a week or so, then we start bottle feeding so they get used to being handled and so we can share the milk with them. Once they’re about two months old and are eating alfalfa and grass and drinking plenty of water, they don’t need milk anymore, so we get it all.
Here’s where it gets slightly crazy: five goats milked twice a day produce about 4-5 gallons per day. That equals a quickly overflowing refrigerator, and a high production of cheese in our kitchen! When the fridge gets full, I pull out the half gallon jars of fresh, raw goat’s milk and decide what to make, usually 3-6 gallons of milk per batch.
At this time of year, we have brining jars full of traditional feta and blue feta, wrapped and aging Pepper Jack and oak pressed hard cheeses, fresh chevre and queso fresco, oiled rind herbed cheeses, southern Colorado style goat cheese, goat ricotta, and bloomy rind camembert (my favorite!) all in their own stages of aging or being eaten. The aging part is definitely difficult however, only because it means waiting. After a cheeseless and milkless winter, any cheese we make begs to be eaten and shared. But, alas, if we eat it all now, there will be no aged cheese for the next fall and winter months when the milk flow slows down due to colder weather, shorter days and pregnant goats. In the land of aged cheeses, patience is a virtue.
And in the spring time, when fresh cheeses abound because of the bounty of milk, we thrill in delicious eating!
– The Goat Cheese Lady
P.S. This original post ran in its edited version here in the IndyBlog on April 25, 2015.