4/2/13

How to Milk a Goat


I have a few neighbors who raise cattle for beef. When I was looking for raw milk, I had this brilliant idea that I should ask one of them to get me some. I assumed even beef cattle gave milk to their babies. So, I asked my friend if he would milk one of the new moms for me. He gave me the strangest look. Actually he looked at me as if I were looney tunes and shook his head at me. “What?” I asked.  “Just put on your cowboy hat, rope that lady, lead her to the barn, give her some hay and milk her.” (Didn’t this guy ever read Little House on the Prairie? That is what cows are made for!)

Well, I never quite understood that whole interaction until yesterday. I looked at myself in the mirror as if I were looney tunes and shook my head at me. Because not everything you read in a book or see in a movie is true, that’s why!  Our experience yesterday more closely resembled roping a deer than Little House.

Here is the lesson I learned. Animals are ornery critters. Especially when they have been separated from their babies all night and their udders are the size of a congressman’s head! We raise little milkers. April probably weighs 60 pounds max. And it took 3 of us to hold her still while we tried to extract her liquid gold. She kicked and bucked and cried and knocked over the milk several times. It then hit me with full force why Mr. Rancher refused to milk one of his cows. Add 3000 pounds (okay maybe 800) to the deal and it all started to sink in. We hog tied her feet and my mom (thank goodness she was here) held one leg while I held the other and spoke kind words... that went unheeded. But three against one 60 lb goat seems to be just about the right number and we did it! Nearly a full quart of milk! Multiply by two and we had some for us and some for the babies.



The babies were no more accommodating than than the moms. Who knew they had to be taught to drink from a bottle. Goats eat everything right? No, actually they only eat things they are not supposed to like my clothes. They had nipple confusion galore! But a few were just hungry enough.

 
My three year old will be happy to know they drank from a bottle. He watched them nurse from their mommies the first day and wisely declared, "you should never put a goat in your mouth!" Shh, don't tell that to the babies. This experience was traumatic enough that we need to rest up before we try it again. We also wont be roping 3000 lb Angus any time soon. Our goats provide enough danger and adventure to suit us just fine..no cowboy hat required.

11 comments:

  1. Your post did make me smile - I love what your little boy said! I have never milked a cow or a goat, but I have heard it is more complicated than you would think. Your post definitely proves that :)

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I appreciate it. I always thought getting the milk out would be the hardest part, but nope, getting near the thing is the hardest.

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  2. That is so funny. They sure do make it look and sound easy on tv. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful story at The Gathering Spot this week. It certainly put a smile on my face :)

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    1. Thanks for allowing me to link from there and for stopping by!

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  3. I can totally relate. Our Nigerian minis are bratty little gals, but the milk is delicious! We are training them to eat their sweet feed when they are on the milking stand, which serves to distract them. But currently, everyone is pregnant, so no milk for a couple more months...waiting patiently for the babies to arrive and milk for everyone! Saw this post on the Hearth and Soul Hop.

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  4. I hope all our tempramental goats get a little more mellow over time!

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  5. Wow - that sounds hard! We're planning to milk next year, so I'm glad I'm prepared!

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  6. I can relate to this, we are currently teaching our newest dairy cow about being milked. She was pretty happy coming into the bales before she had her calf, but she does not like us taking her milk. In the end she has the bulk, so we have to use our brains. A complicated system of fences, chutes and gates now leads to the milking bales, as even the best lucerne wasn't enough to tempt her. The only thing that keeps me going is the thought that she will get used to it eventually and then we will have all the raw jersey milk we every need/want. Good luck with your goats! And thanks for the laugh this morning! (we also keep beef cattle and I can tell you that they have very small udders compared to the milkers, it would not be worth the hassle/danger to life and limb).

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  7. keep up the hard work. We have had a very similar experience, husband has to wrangle and I get to milk. What kind of milker are you using? I just hand milk.

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  8. That milking machine is just something my husband rigged up so that we could keep the milk clean from teet to jar. It may be more hassle than it is worth. We tried converting my old breast pump, but alas, the pull was not strong enough.

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  9. Fascinating! Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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