As I write this, we are past the solstice and just days ahead of Christmas. One by one, the does get themselves in tune with the season, working less on producing milk and more on preparing for kids, though the first births of Spring are still two months away. So milk and cheese are a bit more scarce this time of year, but that seems to be what Nature intends.
All the stock make their accommodations to the cold and the rain. Mary is putting up more wind baffles, to make the barn less drafty. The goats snug down into the wood shavings, often settling down together in family groups . . .
or in "extended family" groups.
No, none of the does really want to hop up on a frosty morning for milking. They take their time, and wait to see if Mary is really serious and ready to go, before they stand and stretch. But of course, once there are does on the move, it's a race into the dairy parlor, same as always.
Not so long ago, 2009 was being marked as Atlanta's seventh wettest year since record-keeping began. Today at the feed store, I heard that 2009 is now second wettest. And now we are getting chores done and supplies in ahead of another heavy rain, so 2009 could take the record. We know farmers who have lost nearly everything. We've been blessed, with the creek staying in its banks, and nothing worse to contend with than a sea of mud in front of the barn. The goats don't like that, either. We try to be extra-diligent in keeping the water troughs and buckets inside the barn filled, and we go through more alfalfa hay on those days when the goats can't go out. And Mary makes a note of which does do venture out for a bite of pasture grass—she wants to be fair when doling out points toward the Good Grazer Award.
With the holidays, it seems that we have had one gathering after another here at Decimal Place Farm. Family and friends gathered here for a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner. The Georgia Dairy Goat Breeders Association came for their Christmas meeting/party. In between those two, there were just too many events to count. Mary's sister Stephanie came down for the weekend and shared her catering magic with the breeders group and a party of foodies, and thank goodness she did. Usually, a visit to the farm means a stroll around; though with the immoderate rain sometimes all you can do is sit around the heater and drink tea with your friends. Not that that's a bad thing.
We hope that you are also blessed this holiday season. We hope that you find the time to share a warm cup with friends. While we all look forward expectantly to Spring, it is important to stop and feel Winter in the air, and to experience the joys of this special time.