Over the weekend we started milking our goats for the first time. They kidded (had babies) around Easter and, while we could have started milking sooner, we kept putting it off. We bought the goats over a year ago, had them bred seven months ago, and went through all the stress of kidding (well, I guess the mamas and babies shared some of that stress with us). But after all that, it was still a big mental jump for me to start milking.
Why you might ask? Well, once you start handmilking three goats every day, it is a little harder to find someone to “farmsit” for you. Handmilking goats (or even cows) isn’t a skill most people have and it isn’t something easy to teach like filling a hay feeder or letting animals out into the pasture. So when we started milking we became tied to the homestead in a whole new, harder-to-take-a-vacation-from way. Hence the dragging of the feet until I remembered that I DID really want to do this and I had better get a move-on because once we sell the kids (goat kids, not human kids) in a few weeks, the mama’s milk will dry up if we aren’t doing our job.
So, like so many other things we’ve done since we moved here, we read a little, googled a little and then just did it.
Handmilking our dairy goat
And guess what – it wasn’t that bad! I mean, the first time was pretty funny, what with milk squirting this way and that, annoyed goats jumping around, and the crazy uncoordinated squeezing attempts by Josh and I. And the very last goat we milked stepped into her pail, knocking half of it over and contaminating the rest. So no milk for us that time but the pigs sure enjoyed it!
The next day it was definitely easier and today was even easier, taking us about 45 minutes to milk and strain all three goats. Better yet, it tastes just like cow’s milk! I mean, I knew it SHOULD given the way we are doing things (no bucks on the homestead, cooling the milk quickly, etc) but until we took that first sip we just weren’t sure. I had images of trying to dunk cookies in milk that tasted like goat cheese. Oh the horror!
I think I’m starting to get down the whole “as soon as the goat moves it’s leg, yank the pail away cuz she’s annoyed and about to step in the milk” thing down. Now I just have to practice my aim so I can give some milk to the barn cats straight from the source…
PS: Thanks to Jill at the The Prairie Homestead for her Goat 101 series and Fias Co Farm for being awesome goat and milking resources.