Getting Milk Out of a Goat

Reader Contribution by Cait Carpenter
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We all have those one or two farmer hot shots in our lives who think they know anything and everything about all things agriculturally related.

Well, guess what?

Add +1 to that mental list of yours, because I’m guilty of being too big for my britches the majority of the time, and that’s what this post is about.

See, I have this awesome friend who let me borrow her goats. She doesn’t drink milk, but raises Oberhaslis, and I happen to have difficulty digesting any pasteurized dairy, so it made sense for me to bring a couple of the ladies up to my farm and get the milk out of them after they kidded. So, I hauled my boyfriend up to Friend’s to get these goats. Mind you, I’ve worked with dairy cattle before, so me up on my high cow thought I knew what the heck I was doing.

Clue? I had none.

We hauled these two goats home in the back of the 1994 GMC Yukon, 2-door that I’m in the process of buying from my grandfather (don’t tell Grandpa that I hauled goats in his truck, please). This was all fine and dandy, I’ve hauled a bajillion critters in the back of my old Durango, and this wasn’t much different.

The problems started when I got the goats to my house. I then realized that although we had been planning for, like, two weeks to get these goats, I had not purchased a darned, dairy related thing. I put the girls in their pen (which I happened to already have, thank the goat gods), and drove all over the county to find a milk pail. This is why I’m now milking into a saucepan – which works great, by the way.

Not only was I unprepared to be a milk maid, I had no clue how to milk a goat. You see, I had helped out on a 4-H leader’s small, grass-based dairy farm back in the day, and had sort-of hand milked a time or two, but that was a long time ago. I figured since I know everything, I’d be able to milk these goats, no problem. As it turns out, I do not know everything, nor do I know how to properly handle a goat. Sure, I can get a halter on one, but my own personal goat is a pet and is not in milk. I don’t honestly know what she does really, so there’s two things I don’t know. I got kicked several times, my bucket-pan got kicked across the room, and we were overall frustrated with each other.

I need to point out that I do in fact own the book Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats, but have never cracked it, because I know everything.

I tried again in the morning, but these goats just weren’t having any of my stupidity. My Friend got a panicked phone call, “HOW DO I GET THE MILK OUT OF THESE GOATS?!” Thankfully, she is kind and patient, and came out after work to show me how to do it. Of course, the goats milked out for her just fine.

Moral of the story – read a darned book or something before you go driving across the county for a creature that you’ve never encountered. These could be chupacabras for all I know about them.

On the up side, I’m getting the hang of it. My hands hurt, the goats think I’m an idiot, but we’re working together. Also, I have milk! I can drink without pain! Yippee!

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