Milk Goats - Know Thy Enemy
Milk Goats - Know Thy Enemy
Patience may be a virtue, but laughter is the only way to survive goat milking. You can strive for the perfect fencing. You must aim for good nutrition. But, don't kid yourself. When it comes to milking, you do not get the last word.
When I decided to add milk goats to my backyard farm I envisioned pitchers of milk cooling in the fridge while cheddar rounds age in my cellar. Spirit, my first nanny, had other ideas. There is an old saying I just made up: "Don't expect instant gratification from your very first dairy goat lactation." Like dating, expecting nothing is the first step toward not being let down. Perseverance is the next step toward surviving goats with your sanity moderately intact.
Spirit proved mutinous in milking. Even with twins at her side, she had ample milk to share. Generosity was simply not her forte. However, like falling off a bike or getting thrown from your horse, when you find a goat leg lodged in your right ear, you must climb right back on.
To help other potential farmers deal with inevitable frustration, I have provided the following journal. It documents my first full month of milking Spirit. From this draw hope. There is light at the end of the nipple.
Day 1: Leashed goat runs around tie post kicking and bucking. Never got near the teat.
Day 2: Build "EZ One Hour Goat Milking Stand" from online instructions. Define five hours in hell.
Day 3: Adjust Goat Milking Stand so goat's big fat head will fit through the stocks into the feed box.
Day 4: Adjust Goat Milking Stand so goat's skinny little head will not retreat from feed box out through the stocks.
Day 5: Collect 3.5 tsp. milk from flailing goat on milking stand.
Day 6: Dido.
Day 7: Tether goat's leg. Goat kicks loose in .3 seconds.
Day 8: Tether goat's leg better. Goat kicks loose dumping over 3.5 tsp. of milk.
Day 9: Try new tethering technique. Collect entire ounce of milk. Goat's effort to kick loose succeeds only after she sheds 3.5 tsp. of hair into the shot glass of milk.
Day 10: Go to store. Buy milk.
Day 11 – 14: Discouraged. Just squirt some milk straight onto the milking stand so that the apparently dwindling right teat stays active.
Day 15: Goat now standing still while I collect three ounces of milk. Then the cantankerous witch sticks her foot in it.
Day 16 – 18: Dido, dido and dido.
Day 19: Right teat has all but vanished.
Day 20: Right teat empty.
Day 21: Spirit's legal team serves me with papers declaring her functional left teat off limits and for her babies only.
Day 22 – 23: Practice milking technique while coaxing droplets from withered right teat.
Day 24: Have mastered milking with right hand while my left hand holds the receptacle up, dodging the maniacal wenches attempts put her foot in the milk. Net bounty from flat tit approx 1.4 oz. Note: Goat still shedding.
Day 25 – 26: Milk rations slightly increasing. Goat and cottonwood trees now both shedding into the milk receptacle.
Day 27: Babies distract me by biting my shirt while I am milking. Spirit's foot returns to the milk receptacle.
Day 28: Babies adamant about eating my clothes while I milk. I steal milk from their precious left teat.
Day 29: Babies try to distract me by eating my hair. I try to ignore them. Goat flinches. My foot avoider reflex overcompensates, hurling the milk directly inside my protective LASIK goggles. Startled by my French, both babies run off in opposite directions with my hair still in their mouths.
Day 30: And the beat goes on.
Day 31: Average daily yield now totals around 10 oz. Source: two milkings per day from 1.2 tits.
Remember, when the day comes, and it will, where you just walk up to your nanny and quickly squirt a little milk straight into your morning coffee then wander off sobbing, bear in mind with a little patience, all this can be yours.
This article was posted on November 14, 2005