A Splash of Goat’s Milk

Reader Contribution by Erin Baldwin
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So, this little line from my last post …

We understand that this option isn’t the best for maximum milk production, but since we will probably get around a gallon a day from a single morning milking of our four does, we should have more then we need to drink with a little leftover for making cheese, yogurt and soap.

… I need to add a little footnote to it. *If I can get any milk from them.

I have been trying my best to rise around 6 o’clock to start my morning milking routine. The whole getting up part is going pretty smoothly. My little 6-month-old alarm clock is up and at it by then, so that part works out quite nicely.

Then the chaos ensues. The goats are just learning the routine, which I would like to go something like this: One goat at a time calmly walks to the milk stand, hops up into the stanchion to leisurely munch on grain while I skillfully milk. Just the sweet smell of dew, cool morning air, chirping birds and satisfying ting, ting, ting of delicious, raw goat milk hitting the side of my milking pail. 

Here’s how it’s been going …

The alarm goes off. I mix my udder wash and grab my shiny new milking equipment. At the goat pen, I crack the gate. Four full-grown Nubians push their noses through with all the muscle they can muster, as I do my best to let only one through at a time. Three escape, but I wrestle two back into the pen. Gypsy is first and it’s me versus her to the stand. She knows there is grain waiting at the finish line. I slip in goat poop, and she takes the lead. Around the stand we go.

“Come on girl, up here. Not that way. Wait. No, jump up here.”

Finally, I get her to stretch her head through the headpiece, and I quickly secure the lock. But her back legs are off the stand to the side. Maybe I can lift her the rest of the way up? “My gosh, how much do you weigh?” Now, she’s laying down on the stand. How to get her up? “Up girl, up.” I dig deep and finally get enough umph to lift her onto all fours. By this time the grain is almost gone. I grab my wipes to clean her udders. Wipe. Kick. Another wipe. Kick. Finally, I’m ready to start milking and get a squirt in the strip cup. Kick. I quickly realized that my nine-quart milking pail might have been ambitious. One teat at a time, I get a couple squirts in the pail.

Repeat. Times four.

What would take an experienced goat and milker just a few minutes has taken me an hour. And I still need to clean up. It’s time for work (my day job, which pays for my homesteading endeavors), and I’m sweaty and smell like a goat.

I get back inside, clean up, get the children ready and head off to the office to spend the next eight hours longing for the satisfaction of that morning routine. Dodging goat kicks beats a day in the office anytime. 

I figure if I keep at it, things will fall into place. Each morning brings progress. And before I know it, we will find our rhythm, and I’ll get to spend my afternoons enjoying the fruits of my labor with a side of goat milk cheese.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy a splash of fresh, raw, delicious goat milk in my morning tea (and only in my morning tea, because a splash is all I get). 

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