Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Empty Bucket Blues

This evening, after much forestalling and many false starts, Billy and I officially tried our hands (pun completely intended!) at milking the goats. Ugh!

We'd been waiting to start for a few reasons; we didn't want to take milk away from the babies, we didn't want to have to learn to milk in the dark, and we were hoping to not have to milk out in the rain. Well, the babies are beginning to wean, daylight savings has given us more light to milk by, and the rain/wet goat issue won't be resolving itself anytime soon, as this is March in the Pacific Northwest, so we bit the bullet and forged ahead.

The fellow that we bought our mama goats from had given us a few tips about milking these gals. Firstly, that Blue was a sitter, which of course turned out to be absolutely true. This girl is maybe eighteen inches tall at her highest point. Getting even a teeny-weeny bucket under her is a challenge. Throw in the sitting down nonsense and you've got a very weird geometry problem. If Bill holds her butt up, and I angle the bucket just so and only use two fingers to milk her bitty little teats... I'm questioning whether or not she's going to be worth the trouble of milking.

Then there's Fritzen, the diva. She had no patience for our fiddling about whatsoever. She's kicky and as hairy as a Sasquatch to boot, which means you get 10 drops of hairy milk for every turd-caked hoof that you dodge. Lovely.

Lastly, there's our Chardy. Her former owner had gone on and on about how great she was to milk. Big "channels" in the teats, lots of milk per squeeze, yada yada. Did he mention that she needs approximately 20 minutes of bribery and massage to let her milk down? Nope. She was actually probably the most patient with our bumbling efforts, but still got pretty ticked by the end of it all. To make amends, in addition to the grain that we fed the ladies during the "milking", we also took each of them for a short walkabout on the leash to nibble on some of the fresh grass that all of this month's rain has given us. I hope that there were no hard feelings.

I'm a little disappointed about today's crash and burn. The amount of milk that we got barely covered the bottom of the bucket, and keep in mind that that is three goats' worth in a wee little quart-sized bucket. Not good! It's time to call for reinforcements. My cousin's eldest daughter is a goat whiz, so I'm going to beg and bribe her to come over and show me the way of things. I'm also going to look into trimming/shaving the ladies' udder areas because HAIRY MILK IS GNARLY. And I need to find a very gentle way to break it to my farmer/foreman/Chief Goat Officer, Billy, that we need a pallet shed or a lean-to of some kind to milk the goats in, out of the elements, sooner rather than later. But he's still eyeball-deep in chicken coop construction, so for the sake of his mental health and by extension, mine, I do not dare even suggest such a thing.

Like everything else about this venture, we'll fumble our way through milking one way or another. Or else we'll sell the farm and move to Spain. You know, one or the other. Here's hoping that we'll get our milk eventually... o necesito estudiar espaƱol mucho, mucho mas. Mucho mas.


  1. Good luck! sounds like there is only one goat there worth milking. Spain sounds very tempting though.

  2. I love Spain! We've dreamed about buying a little house on the coast in Cadaques. Fishing the Med and growing olives doesn't sound like too bad of a gig. ;)