We are a seasonal dairy. At about the second week of December, we dry our herd up & they are on “vacation” – preparing to have their calves beginning mid-March. They “chill” in a nice big field (Mordor), where there are hills & trees for shelter.
We enjoy the break, too. A time to really buckle down on our homeschooling and attempt to catch up on all the chores we let slack during the milking season.
During this “dry” season, we obviously don’t have “fresh” milk. To compensate for that, we prepare for our “dry period” during the previous “fresh period”…frozen milk, butter, cottage & ricotta cheeses, and NEW this year: frozen whipped cream dollops! With our thawed frozen dairy, we still make daily kefir & weekly yogurt.
There have been MANY learning curves in freezing our milk. One of the biggest lessons was the importance of not allowing the cream to separate from the milk before it’s frozen. On the days I am freezing milk, I set a timer to go off every hour so I remember to shake every jug & rotate them in our freezers. It is a burden at first, but once I’m in “my routine”, it’s not that big a deal. Normally, it’s 4-6 hours of shaking, because we don’t do super-huge batches at once.
In our opinion, thawed frozen milk (if shaken properly) does not taste much different than fresh. It is not exactly the same, but a change we are ok with so we can have our break, and not have to purchase any dairy off-farm.
We place the bull in with the cows in June for about 6-8 weeks. This puts our girls’ due dates to be about mid-March to the beginning of May. Our goal is to be able to begin weekly pickups for our herd-share owners by the beginning of April. It’s a chaotic “rush” as we jolt into calving & baseball season at the same time, but with deliberate, make-ahead meal planning & lots of anticipatory prayer, a very rewarding season!