I'm borrowing goats. A mama goat, her sister, and one of her babies. This is week one, and quite a week it has been. Auntie Goat is the cute one above. Just look at that face! Mama goat is called Winnie.
They arrived last Tuesday and I got a crash course in Milking 101. Grab high, trap the milk, and express it. Little goats, little teats, so just two fingers. Winnie, the mama goat, isn't crazy about the process. I spent two hours awake that night worrying that somehow my borrowed goats weren't safe. Checked on them once.
Wednesday morning I got a whole quarter cup. That is four tablespoons. I had to hold one leg in one hand and milk with the other, shoulders BURNING, sweating from the sheer stress of it all, scared Winnie was going to jump right off the stand and hang herself. Auntie and baby kept trying to get in on the action and the kids tried to fend them off. Hair, dirt and pollen all dropped in, and though I filtered it, 24 hours later it was gross. Even before it went yucky on me it had a strange, bean-y flavor like thick creamy soy milk, but not horrible. Wednesday night I separated mama and baby goats.
Thursday morning Winnie's udder was engorged like the first time your baby sleeps through the night. SO MUCH MILK, but she kicked so badly I had to give up. I was a little worried she'd have mastitis or something horrible by the end of the day, but figured baby would take care of it. Thursday afternoon was Milking 102. Cleanliness. No more holding a dirty goat foot in one hand and milking with the other. Goat not allowed to lie down on the dirty stand. Clean white rag after clean white rag until the udder is perfectly clean, then another clean rag to dry. It reminded me of beauty school: lots of hand washing and a sanitary maintenance area. We set a towel down under Winnie in case she decided to lie down, and a footstool under her belly to keep her up. Such a stubborn goat! I admit I felt faint afterwards.
Friday morning my milking skills were improving, but Winnie was putting up even more of a fight. I got the milk out, I just couldn't keep it in the pail. My sister helped me a ton, but kept uttering helpful things like, "Faster, Megan, I can't do this much longer! What's taking you so long? Get a grip, it's just a goat!"
"That goat really hates you."
Saturday morning milking was better, way better. My husband held a foot and the pail, Winnie kicked less, I got faster, and we probably got a little over a cup and a half of milk. Whew! Still, it seemed like buying a crane to just airlift the goat would be the best way to go.
Sunday morning, oh dear. Sunday morning. I was armed with two adults, extra milking pails in case Winnie managed to kick them over or got another foot in there, a towel for the milk stand, snacks and treats, more snacks and treats, two size stepping stools, a borrowed scarf from a chihuahua to use as a gentle tether, and all the wipes in the world to clean everybody off... but I guess what I really needed was a tranquilizer gun, or maybe an exorcist.
"Well that's what you get for trying to milk the devil's mascot."
Sunday morning Winnie transformed into a bucking bronco. My husband held her legs, my sister held her, my daughter sang to her, my son stripped my garden bare in search of quality treats, and Winnie wasn't having any of it. She kicked. She jumped. She lay down. She actually refused to eat, put her head in the food bucket, looked back at me and shouted, "MAAAAAAH!" One cup of milk in the bucket and she managed to get a foot in. She pooped. She peed. She hates me.
"Wow, that's an angry goat. I really don't like this. I think you're hurting her."
For the record, I am way, way gentler than the baby. Baby goats ram their mother's udder to bring the milk down. But I understand, I'm stealing milk from Winnie that was intended for her baby. It does seem a trifle unethical when you stop to consider it.
But this morning wasn't too bad. It took only three of us. I switched out pails halfway through before a foot could get in there and got two cups. This can only get better.
"Don't you still have a breast pump somewhere?"
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!