Friday, July 15, 2011

Things I Learned from Fritzen

Fritzen is the herd boss.  She's the oldest of the mini-lamanchas and the toughest.  She rules the roost and Chardy, Blue, Gertie and all their babies make way for her.  She is a tough old goat and has a beard to match.  I don't think I really knew her though until we started milking.

Every time we think we have the hang of something they throw something new our way.  Two days ago I went outside to milk them and it was windy and cloudy.  Chardy hopped right up on the table because I think she both likes being milked and eating the grain we give them in their bin as a bribe.  She milks out fast and not as much as Fritzen so off she went back into the pen.  I collected Fritzen and hopped her up on the table.

One side of her milked out, it takes more time with Fritzen and I switched to the other.  Then the rain started. By started I don't mean there were a few drops here and there before it went to a steady light shower or drizzle.  I mean God turned on the shower kind of rain.  I was sans coat and Fritzen munched on her grain for a few moments as she watched her babies and pen mates run into their little goat house.  A few moments after that she was pulling back on the milking stand.

Now I'm paranoid about them getting mastitis, an infection and sometimes blockage of their udders.  You avoid that by milking them all the way out each time.  I know their babies are still drinking a bit but still, I worry so there we sit as I quietly encourage her to be patient.  She begins doing the riverdance with her hindquarters, turns her head around, looks at me with her one eye, sticks out her tongue and literally screams at me.  I put my hat on her head to see if that helps her block out the rain.  She screams again.  And again, and again and again......

I wait a few minutes until I know she's milked out a little bit and drag her back to the pen.  She is, needless to say, a bit crabby and I am soaked (even after Chelle sent Livy up with my raincoat).

Lately she has been only letting me milk out one side.  She doesn't let her milk down on the other side for some reason.  Both sides have done this so I know it's by choice.  I try sweet talking her but ever since the rain incident she just looks at me like "you lose buster".  I finally figured out though that she's OK with hand milking the other side.  This is a skill I thought I'd never get down pat but after practicing quite a bit to get them ready for the Henry Milker I seem to be able to pull it off.  It takes some stamina but I think she prefers it.

Last but not least I finally got her tender hoof trimmed up.  It took help from Chelle to hold her head and snuggle her because it hurt but I got it done and got the medication in there.  Today I used the berry treats before and after brushing her hoof with iodine water and medication and she got nervous but seemed OK at the end.

She is a tough old goat but she's tender too.  She can't stand hearing her babies cry and when she's sore she lets you know.  She's as patient as she can be with us as we learn this milking business and sometimes is even tender towards us.  At 6 years old she's second oldest of the pack and a good mama.  Slowly but surely she's training us as much as we're taking care of her.  Words of wisdom that she has passed on to me....

1.  "Never milk an angry goat in the rain"
2.  "I can't take care of my feet so I need you too, even if it hurts"
3.  "I'm in control of if and how you get my milk"
4.  "Learn how to milk by hand, like it or not"

She is our cash cow too so to speak.  She gives easily three times as much as Chardy, even as she's twice as hard to milk.  So today as I drove home thinking about milking the goats in the rain I remembered what Fritzen told me the other day.  Before I got the milker put together I went into the basement and got some nails, rope, a tarp, saw and hammer.  I grabbed a couple of 2x2's and a dowel and went up the hill.  In went two dowels to anchor one side of the tarp and up went the 2x2s and lo and behold the milking stand was dry.  Up went Chardy and was done in a hurry (her right side is finally giving us some more milk) and into the pen I went to get Fritzen.  She was hesitant until I got the leash on her and then up and onto the table she went.  She stayed dry, didn't fight too much when I brushed her hoof and looked over at me with thanks when I gave her the berry treats.  Success!  Then I switched the milker over to the other side.

She wouldn't let down on the left side until I hand milked her.

Yes, ma-am.  Whatever you say ma-am.  You're the boss, Fritzen-big-mama.....

1 comment:

  1. I guess we know who's in charge there :) Great post Bill! I love reading about your farm. And great job on the rain canopy!!