It is official. Mattie, the Jersey cow, is dry for the winter.
I milked her for the last time yesterday evening, and reveled in knowing that I wouldn't have to do it in the mornings anymore. Not until March...
November was an interesting month with the dairy cow. She was ready to be done. Almost hitting 2 years of steady milking, I can't say that I blame her when it came to wanting to be done, but I needed to stretch her until the end of the month! So stretch her I did. She continued to drop as the weeks wore away, but we both gave it our all to see that there was milk every single day. She went from 2 gallons a day, to 1.5 gallons, to 1 gallon, to 3/4's of a gallon, to 1/2 a gallon, and then finally sputtered to 6 cups a day. It was hard having to turn folks away who have been depending on Mattie each week. It was hard having to give folks jars that weren't all the way full. But yesterday was our last gasp and the ol' girl has finally earned her three month's holiday. And I'm glad for both of us.
Today I cleaned out the milking parlor for the last time until spring. The floor was swept and then mopped, the goats' milk stand was given a final scrub, the vacuum pump was dusted and the power cord was coiled neatly. The milking machine was wrapped carefully and placed on top of an empty feed bin, the feed bucket was overturned. It is clean and quiet in there. We are done Mattie; we've finished for the year.
Mattie's due date is February 21st, but who knows when that calf will actually drop. If it's a heifer, then she'll stay as a future replacement milker. If it's a bull, then I may keep him as a working ox. Either way, I am excited for the first calf here at GSF and am happy knowing that I have a plan for the little tyke.
Barn chores used to take me 3 hours to do, what with milking the goats and the cow, and then feeding/watering everyone. This morning it took me 30 minutes to take care of all 70 animals. It was nice.
But having dry animals does mean that I'm back to my annual dairy fast. I haven't had any milk since October, and won't have any milk until mid-March. Ouch. But it's the price I have to pay to have the winter off from milking animals in freezing temps and fighting with frozen vacuum lines. Pick your poison, I guess.
Well Mattie dear, you've done well. Now you get to laze around the barn and do absolutely nothing more strenuous than eating hay. What a rough life you've got, girl.