Milk-Maiding

Every morning, I get up, gather my supplies, change into my dirty jeans and ratty shirt, and head outside. Sometimes I take Gideon, if Jeremy isn't here, or Eowyn if Jeremy is here.



When I'm walking across the yard, I can hear the goats already yelling. We separate the babies every night so that we can collect our milk in the morning. It's worked well for us. Although the babies hate it!


Anyway, I open up the garage and get the feed ready for Sissy. She's first because she never hesitates. We let her out, but leave Pippy in the room. Sissy is always very willing to climb up on the milk stand and stick her head through the head gate. She loves to eat and doesn't really care what goes on behind her.


I'm probably a terrible milker, but I prefer for the goats to only get half way up on the milk stand. Their teats stick out farther, and it's easier to get to them. I would consider cutting the milk stand in half, but I use the back half to sit on when I switch sides. Sissy stands with her back legs to the side of the stand, and I plunk the bucket upside down next to her. (Yep, I sit on the bucket, instead of milking into it.) I wash her teats with some warm water and castile soap. Then I hand milk a bit out on the ground to make sure it still looks like milk. I rub a little bit of olive oil on her teats, then I can hook her up to the EZ milker.




I love this thing. Without this thing, I would not be able to drink raw milk. One day, Jeremy decided he wanted to hand milk the goats. Y'all, it was so gross! We could see all the stuff floating in the milk; hair, dirt, flecks of stuff. I poured it all out to the chickens (who don't care about gross things). Granted, with practice we may be able to hand milk cleanly, but for now, we cannot. With the milker, I don't have to strain the milk through cheesecloth. The milk never comes close to any gross particles. It goes straight into the milk bottle, and when that's full I pour it into the half gallon mason jars. From there, I put it in the freezer we have out there while I finish the rest of the chores. I am so glad and relieved not to have to worry about those floaters.

The EZ milker will not strip the goats out, which for now is fine since the babies take the rest of the milk and then some more. Eventually, I'll have to finish milking them out by hand milking. My plans are to use that milk to make our soap.




Once I finish Sissy up, we take her back inside the fence and bring Pippy out. The race is on with Pippy! If I don't finish before she finishes eating, she starts kicking and jumping, and fighting me tooth and nail. She has gotten better, and I never let her finish the milking session. It always has to be on my terms. (Although, sometimes my terms come just in between her fits.) As long as she's eating, she's fine. So I just move quickly. And she's learning that she gets a treat of sunflower seeds when she does well.


She's been stubborn and driven me crazy, but I think I've finally won her over entirely. If you ever would have tried to tell me that one day I would be milking a goat who was kicking and jumping at me, I would have laughed and laughed. I've found some tricks that help. One, the treats at the end of good sessions. Two, singing hymns to her. And three, pressing my shoulder into her side and hips while I'm milking her keeps her more still on the bad days. And speed would be the last thing. Work as quickly as possible!

She has made me mad on several occasions, though. For a week, she would only give me about 2 cups of milk. Then when I'd let her into the babies, her milk would come spraying out for them. Punk goat. But we're still working on her. Today I got four cups from her without fighting, so it was a good day and she got extra sunflower seeds. Hopefully, she'll remember tomorrow!


Having one of the kids out there with me is great. They can help with the moving of the goats and get the other chores done while I'm milking. Gideon and I have really gotten a nice system down now. He gets the waters refilled, and takes care of the chickens. With him out there, I've been able to get the milking chores down to just under 30 minutes. Pretty good, considering I started out taking 45 minutes.


I haven't started milking in the afternoons for a few reasons. It's harder. We don't have two fenced in areas to separate the goats, so the babies take it all. And we haven't quite worked out how to milk in the afternoons and have a life. But I do want to start because we get enough milk in the mornings for our fresh drinking, but not enough for cheese, soap, yogurt, etc.

Once everyone is back together, they are all happy. I'll do a post soon about the babies, and what we're doing with them.


We love our milk now. It's so fun to bring in milk, eggs, and now squash every morning. (Except, squash is not my favorite. Come on watermelons!)

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