Last year, in 2012, I began checking books out from the library on family milk cows. I thought it would be great to milk a cow every day. The chickens had inspired me to pursue more home grown food. Their eggs, and the roosters we ate, were vastly different from store bought. I also thought I’d be well suited to the daily chores of more livestock. I loved the chickens and their routines. I also loved their practicality. The fact that I could feed them the leftovers from dinner and use their manure for compost in the garden was exciting to me.
I really thought these were just dreams. Having more livestock involved moving and finding more land. Something that I thought was out of reach for many reasons. We were living in my husband’s dream home already. I loved it, too. Also, we had only lived in it for a year and didn’t have much equity. Also, the last time I checked, land AND a house were both quite a bit more expensive than just a house on a city lot. Plus, I had to convince my family…
So, if you’ve read Homestead Beginnings you know the rest of the story. My point in this post is to marvel at the fact that, in a few short months, I was in the feed room on my own small acreage milking a goat. I had only read about the mechanics of milking. When I bought Daisy I was able to milk her and observe her being milked. I got two squirts out of her and figured all was good. The gal I bought her from finished milking her, we loaded her up and drove home.
When we arrived my sweet husband quickly constructed a make-shift milking stand in about an hour. Since I bought a miniature goat he made the stand much taller than normal so I could stand and milk.
You will notice in the photo above that Daisy has a belly strap on. Daisy was/is very difficult to milk. First of all, she’s a pain in the butt and stomps and sits down when you try to milk her. In her defense she had a rough go of it before Kyla bought her. Kyla worked with her for a year and was able to get her to finally stand quietly.
So, with all the newness around her and a long cold ride to our place, she was very nervous. Plus, goats know when you are inexperienced. When I tried to milk her she lifted her little leg and slid it down the side of her udder to land it directly in the milking bowl. This is a move goats make when trying to wean their kids. It just means she didn’t like what was going on. Plus, she would also sit right down so I could not get at her udder at all. Daniel thought of the idea of using the cinch from my old saddle to keep her up. It worked great but she still was able to bounce around so much that I had Daniel lift her completely off the ground by her back feet. I was desperate to finish the job. It was so difficult to just get the proper rhythm going and I was just figuring out the mechanics of it for the first time. I just needed the darn creature to HOLD STILL.
A further complication was that at first we separated Daisy and Saraphine to milk Daisy. They both bleated their heads off and Saraphine threw herself at the walls trying to get to where her momma was. The look on Daniel’s face was priceless when Saraphine jumped up to be in full view of the window of the feed room. She leaped about 4 feet into the air to do this. He commented, “Goats are crazy.”
That night when we were finally finished I felt so frustrated and actually doubted this whole venture. I posted this status on facebook, “We brought home 2 Nigerian Dwarf goats today. Mother and Daughter. I got my first experience milking. I’m exhausted from the long day and from physically having to hold the goat up to milk her (she is not liking all the recent changes). I think this is where I’m supposed to be positive but it was a terrible first experience. I’d like to cry and say, “stupid tiny-titted goat! what was I thinking?” These feelings just steeled my resolve to make things work.
The next morning was much better. I actually made it into the house with clean milk. It weighed 9 ounces. Not much, but I was so proud.
My family had never tasted goats’ milk so I was very excited. I had had it as a child but didn’t remember it very well. I put the milk in the fridge and after a few hours of chilling I tasted it. I was shocked and ran to find Daniel. I offered him a taste and he warily took a sip. It tasted like cows’ milk! I had read it would but to taste it is to believe it. I suppose it was maybe somewhat sweeter and richer because it was whole (no fat separated out) but basically just so NORMAL.
I was absolutely thrilled and the horrible first experience of the night before quickly faded from my memory.