Sunday, May 29, 2011

Goodbye babies, hello milk

Yesterday we sold the first batch of kids (Mabel's three) to some family friends. Seeing them go was a mixed bag for me. I knew they were going to a good home and that their departure meant we would finally begin getting milk from our mama goats, in which we have invested a lot of time, money and effort. On the other hand, the kids' plaintive cries when we separated them from Mabel was hard to handle. I immediately began second guessing myself, wondering if we had given them enough time, wondering if we should actually be keeping goats at could we be such heartless monsters as to separate them??

Of course this is the reality of dairy: anytime you drink milk it is only because some little calf or kid or lamb is not drinking it. When the animals are in your backyard, it just feels more immediate and visceral than when you buy a gallon of milk at the store. We waited the recommended length of time before separating the kids from their moms, we gave them vaccinations, affectionate attention, and plenty of hay while they were here. I have full faith in the folks who are now in charge of their welfare. Really, this is the best it can be, I think!

This morning, I woke up full of anticipation. Mabel seemed to be in good enough spirits; she hadn't tried to escape in the night and wasn't hollering for her kids all night either. Sarah and I had been watching her udder for the last few weeks, wondering if we would get any milk. She was always empty!! This morning, however, her udder was full. Between the morning and afternoon milkings, we got ~1100 grams of milk from Mabel today. That's a little over a quart.

A quart of milk per day is actually a lot of milk. Also, that is only from one goat. When PJ's kids leave, will we be getting half a gallon? What on earth will we do with 3.5 gallons of milk per week?? Cheese! Yogurt! Milk! Ice cream! Party favors!


In non goat garden news, the heat has been hard on the tomatoes. Some of the fruits are getting pretty sun burned, turning a pale yellow and getting mushy. Yuck. Nevertheless, we have a good number of tomatoes coming in, enough for salads & sandwiches, but not enough for the big pots of salsa I was dreaming of. Next time, I'm going to use tomato cages and grow only determinate, fast maturing hybrid varieties. The heirlooms are well and good if you don't mind harvesting just 3 or 4 edible fruits from each plant. I want to be inundated with tomatoes.

My peppers are coming along very nicely. They love the heat! Today I harvested some poblanos, time to make goat cheese stuffed chile rellenos! Maybe I can use some of the smokey salsa verde i made last fall as a sauce. Oh yeah....

Melons, tepary beans, black eyed peas, amaranth, malabar spinach, eggplants, peppers.... They are all coming along well. I'll harvest the last of the potatoes, beets and carrots soon. That will be the last root crops till next fall.... Imagine not eating a carrot from now till November! Yikes! I'll probably buy some at the store. (Heresy, I know...)

well that's a lot to mull over.