The goats have finally been dried off for the Winter, and the chickens' egg output has dwindled down from a dozen plus per day to two or three each day. In terms of the milking, it is a relief to be free from the daily chore.
We have a few cheeses aging, but will otherwise have to learn to live without fresh goaty goodness until the gals kid in late February/early March. As for the reduction in eggs; well that's just a bummer, no upside to that at all!
Last March, when I was browsing to buy the day-old chicks who have since grown to be our laying flock, I sought a "workhorse" of a breed. Between my research and the glowing recommendations from fellow chicken owners, the Australorp breed really stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Our wish list was this - a sturdy laying breed that was a) friendly b) hardy, health-wise c) would lay during the winter. The 'Lorp fit the bill on all counts.
So I ordered 10 hens and 2 roos, and the hatchery sent us an extra free roo. Out of our original 13, we still have 10. One was butchered (a mean roo), one died of a mystery virus (a nice roo) and one passed away from egg binding. For a flock of free-rangers, that is not a bad rate of attrition. Now the Polishes on the other hand - oy! - hothouse flowers. Never again!
Besides being hardy and better than their fellows at avoiding predation, the 'Lorp girls have indeed kept up their end of the bargain in terms of egg-laying during these first few weeks of dark Fall/Winter. Every last egg that we've collected since mid-November has been a Lorpy egg! We're averaging a dozen and a half to two dozen eggs per week now, as opposed to the 8 or 9 dozen that we were getting at peak production. I can't complain though. Even if it isn't quite enough for us to sell, we still don't have to buy eggs for ourselves, and to me, that's a pretty big deal.
So I'll take the slow down in production and try to enjoy the break. All of our "baby" hennies are headed toward their first birthdays, and therefore their first Spring of laying. I anticipate a landslide of eggs. :) Add to that the fact that, as best as we can tell without a veterinarian to confirm, we have five (maybe six) pregnant goaties. Keep in mind that twins are the standard in goats and visualize the sproingy-happy kid fest that will be my back pasture in just a few more months. :) We'll be swimming in milk and eggs again before we know it, so right now is our time to hunker down and rest up.