Goat Maternity Leave
For us humans, there may be just a handful of times in a woman’s life when she will forgo the busyness and constancy of daily life to prep, prepare and restore her beautiful, life-giving body for an even bigger job. (And the even busier busyness that ensues after birthing a child into this world.) For the four legged ladies that make up the majority of The Drunken Nanny team, this pretty much happens round the clock. In fact it’s marked in her calendar for ‘every year round March…’
Goat maternity leave is our gift to the ladies, as we humbly acknowledge the circle of life, and the cycles they go through in order to perform at a happy and healthy optimum. Because not only are these ladies continuous supermums, they also commit themselves to the production and nourishment of us folk as they lend their beautiful milk for us to make into cheeses and devour with a smile.
Like all other natural produce, living seasonally and harvesting locally means quality is at it’s best as farmers and suppliers take cues from the environment in regards to timing and ingredient selection. It also means there comes a time each year that specific produce and products will not be available – especially when the goats are free ranging and farmed naturally.
As the colder weather sets in around autumn, the wetter, cooler temperatures and conditions drive the girls to stay indoors, but unlike us and our tendency to eat more food under the excuse of winter, these ladies often end up losing their appetite, which then contributes to the drying off of their cycle and therefore lessening milk supply.
The Does tell us when it comes time to stop, becoming less enthusiastic with about their journey into the milking shed. We believe in order to produce finest quality, and treat our livestock with respect, it is important to have this transition period be one of rest and recuperation, having them well fed, well looked after, and given lots of love and cuddles during the cold months. At the moment the girls are free ranging on natural grass, getting fed bailage twice a day and having constant access to the hay in their hay feeders. We also take this as an invitation to follow their prompting and get some rest for ourselves. Lindsey has worked with the girls everyday since last July, and always with a smile on his face. This time of rest grants space to now catch up on the huge list of ‘other’ jobs – repairing fences, making a shed, fixing water leaks, tidying up fallen trees, metalling tracks, cleaning out sheds, etc etc – so it turns out the ladies are more inclined to take the ‘rest’ more literally…But lucky for us, the change in activities provides a similar form of refreshment from weariness as we let the Doe cycles gift us a new form of patience and virtue, or like the old fella’s of New Zealand would say, “to keep ya powder dry.”