Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The merry milkmaid

Well, perhaps the new milkmaid was not so very merry when she got a butt from a goat and a good-sized splash of milk onto her clothes! 

... But she's getting the hang of it, never fear.

To begin with, I was in denial about how soon I would have to begin milking. The general advice I read was, "you can't drink the milk a goat produces for the first two weeks because it contains colostrum and it tastes unpleasant, so don't worry about it, just leave the kids with Mom and they'll take care of it." By the way, when my husband's aunt heard you "can't" drink the milk a goat produces at first, she laughed and said that when they were children, they would take this milk and make soup with it, and that it was considered a delicacy. They would do it every time a goat kidded.

Well, as our does only have one kid each, and as I noticed the kids favor just one side, I did begin milking the other side straight away... and while we were at it, we thought we'd taste the milk. I mean, what could happen? Guess what... it was delicious. A couple of times we've already made a very simple cheese by heating the milk in a pot, adding a dash of lemon juice to make it curdle, and straining it to separate cheese from whey. We had it with our breakfast this morning and it was very nice. 

So now the main problem is to get the goat to stand still while we are milking her, especially our first-timer. Oh, she gets a snack and it helps somewhat, but she still dances around trying to avoid me and the milk pail. We did not build a milk stand because my husband believed it isn't strictly necessary, and my in-laws assured us they always did just fine without it, but now I see it really can make life easier. We also received some hilarious advice such as, "put on your rubber boots and squeeze the doe's hind legs into the boots together with your feet so she won't be able to move". I still can't decide whether that was a joke or not. 

Updates from the milk and cheese front hopefully coming soon! 


Heather said...

How exciting to have your goats! It does take some getting used to. When I was younger I was part of an agricultural club and took care of goats. It is something I keep hoping I can get at some point - but we live in the city and don't have that large of a lot. Congratulations!

Tracy's corner said...

How exciting! I've asking my hubby
for goats. We are reading up on them right now:)

Lady Anne said...

Somehow, the vision of you trying to get a goat who is already none too cooperative to allow you to stuff her feet into your boots (with your feet) is more than I can handle this early in the morning. Can you fit steel-toed work shoes into those boots? I wouldn't want a goat stepping on MY feet. Good luck, m'dear!

Leah Brand-Burks said...

That is so cute and funny. Maybe a simple milk stand is a good idea. ;-) Glad to see you're reaping rewards already!

Emily G. said...

I raised dairy goats for 10 years, ending about 8 years ago so my memories are still fresh. :)

We took the kids from their mothers soon after birth and milked right away, so that we could control how much the kids drank and how much we got. We showed our animals, so we didn't want the does to get lopsided udders from nursing (kids do favour one side, as you say) and we wanted the kids to be very used to being handled by people, also because of showing them.

We never drank colostrum, but it is usually gone within 3 or 4 days and regular milk is in.

I had a milking stand. It helps a lot. I always fed my does during milking, but some of them-usually first timers-were kickers anyway. Sometimes in order to train them, I resorted to tying their ankles to the leg of the stand (with their hooves on the stand in the proper place) so they couln't lift their hoof. They always got the message.

Good luck! I miss my goats and someday I hope to live in a place where I can have some again.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Emily, it sure sounds as though you worked much harder than we do!! Then again, all we wanted was family milkers, not show goats, so we do things in the most natural ways possible (it's just easier to leave the kids with Mom than to bottle-feed them).

Rose Godfrey said...

My first goat-milking experience ended with a lot of spilled milk, a few tears, and about a half cup of milk with a black hair floating on top. :)
Things got better after that.

I did use a stand and gave a bit of grain, and that helped me a lot. They say the grain helps increase the calorie content to keep production up. While our kids did favor one side, I found that as they got bigger they also kept the moms pretty empty. We would separate them overnight if we wanted more milk.

You are teaching your girls many valuable lessons, thanks for bringing all of us along on the journey.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rose, I do remember that story from your book, LOL! Actually I thought about it when I was milking... but now it's all pretty much smooth sailing.

I know we could get more milk if we separated Mom and kids overnight, but frankly, we're not that fussed... we still get all the milk we can drink, and for making cheese too.