Milking is fun, but not for the first week or so. I feel clumsy all over again, the goats keep telling me I'm screwing it up, and my husband always thinks I'm hurting them. The babies cry because, let's face it, I'm stealing their milk. (Shame face!!) Still, the benefits far outweigh the trials of milking and I'm motivated by visions of fresh cheese, velvety yogurt, and custardy puddings. I'm greedy enough to push through.
But this year there was an unexpected silver lining. My daughter, who just turned 9, was determined to master milking. So every morning she went out with me and squeezed and struggled while milk dripped down her arm. We worked on the routine together, and finally settled on separate bowls. She works the left, I work the right side. It was a pain at first since it would have been much quicker to just do it all myself, but I think it was Joel Salatin who said that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first. Great words for a perfectionist to live by, or anyone else, for that matter!
My little girl did it! She milked her side out perfectly today, and I officially declared her a Master Milker. It's a good thing too since she drinks most of the milk.
We have only been milking for about two weeks now, and I've been getting about a quart from each goat every morning, so if I were to milk them twice a day I would be getting nearly a gallon of milk a day from two dwarf goats! But I've decided I'm a once-a-day milker. The trick with this stuff seems to be making it manageable since I'm not a farmer. It's easy to get greedy and want more, more, more- but I have to remind myself that enough really is enough.
I made my first two batches of fresh cheese, ice cream, and vanilla pudding already. The kids are pretty happy.
My plan this summer is to milk only in the mornings. Once September rolls around I can sell the babies (if I have the heart to!) and either continue milking once a day, or begin to milk twice a day since summer vacation will be over anyway.
I use blackboard lids (I might have made that name up, but hopefully you understand me) to label the jars so we can use the oldest milk up first, but everything has been very fresh. Last year I kept freezing all the milk because I thought my milk wasn't cooling off quickly enough. This year I got advice from another milker (the Godfather) that the milk actually stays fresh for a long time, but it's important to filter it right away. This was excellent advice. Now I filter the milk right at the milking stand and just put the jar in the refrigerator when I'm done cleaning up. Raw milk stays fresh for quite a long time, much longer than I thought.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!