What I Did this Weekend

Sharon August 4th, 2008

I know this is a P-A novel day, but I had to share with you all how I spent my weekend - Selene and Maia, our new dairy goats came home! 

Eric went to get them - now remember, we no longer have a van, so they rode in the back of our Ford Taurus, which only smells a little bit like goat since then ;-).  Selene is definitely the adventurous one - she was at home pretty much instantly, and just wanted to check everything out.  Maia is more nervous, and is much more skeptical about her new home, but she’s starting to get into a routine.  Maia is also a kick-ass milker - Selene is very good, but we’d been warned their production was down (their kids were sold off a few weeks ago, and Jamey and Carol who own them only milk once a day), but Maia is coming back like wildfire, while Selene is building a bit slower. 

Meanwhile, Eric and I are getting familiar with milking.  We bought a Maggidans Milker, a manual milker for a couple of reasons - first, their original owners had been milking with an EZ milker, which similar, but more expensive.  Second, I have wicked carpal tunnel syndrome and third, we’re going away in 2 weeks, and the primary milker will be a teenager - we wanted to give him something foolproof.  Oh, and we could use some idiot proofing ourselves.

 Because whether it is us or the milker, we’re not much liking the Maggidans Milker - when the vacuum is working, the suction often needs to be reset, sometimes the milker sticks (and doesn’t extract milk) and I keep ending up milking her out by hand anyway.  We’re not quite sure what to do - send it back?  Keep playing with it?  Spend more money and replace it with the EZ milker?  If anyone has advice, I’ll gladly take it - we can milk them just fine by hand, but the goats aren’t as accustomed to the slower manual method and get impatient and jumpy, and I’m concerned that our helper won’t be able to handle it. 

 We’re also getting used to fitting the routine of milking into our daily lives - it isn’t hard, just new - in the same way I once found it disorienting to have to remember to nurse, burp, etc.. the baby, now the milking is a new routine.  I’m still not sure how all of this is going to work with our energy reductions as well - there’s so much warm water involved ;-).  But I have reasonable confidence we’ll figure it out.  Any suggestions out there? 

 Still, things seem to be going well -  they are by far the most appealing and enjoyable animals we’ve ever raised.  And we’re getting the hang of the girls, and they are getting the hang of us.  I’m sure they’ll have us trained shortly ;-).

 Sharon

8 Responses to “What I Did this Weekend”

  1. MEAon 04 Aug 2008 at 9:35 am

    Did you ever watch The Good Life (aka) The Good Neighbors, where Andrew sends the limo to take the goat to be freshened?

  2. Kelsieon 04 Aug 2008 at 10:36 am

    I envy you. I spent two years working on an organic goat dairy farm, and I miss it terribly. We did all the milking by hand, so I’m trying to think of how much warm water you might be using.

    For us, we washed our hands before we started. We actually used a medium-sized bucket of hot (HOT) water with Dr. Bronner’s and white vinegar in it for cleaning the goat’s udders. That bucket lasted us for 10 goats, and then we would change it. I’m saying this, because you could probably use a rather small bucket of water/soap/etc for your two girls. Once we were done with the water, we went and watered something with it. :) Once we were done milking, we sprayed the teats either with an iodine teat wash or a mixture of vinegar, water, and peppermint oil. We did switch to the milking machines towards the end of my time there, and those took SO MUCH HOT WATER to clean. It was horrible. I think hand-milking into a bucket, and then using a standard milk filter and filter paper is the way to go. Then, you only need the small amount of hot water it takes to clean the filter, your milking bucket, and the bucket you set your filter on.

    With the machines, I’ve found it very uncomfortable for the goat to leave it attached to the machine until it was completely milked out. We always milked everyone out by hand, after the machine had done most of the work.

    As for the hand-milking/carpal tunnel syndrome, I know you may not believe me, but I had absolutely debilitating carpal tunnel for years (to the point that it would flare up so badly I couldn’t even turn a doorknob). When I went to work on the farm, I was milking 30 goats by hand, every single day (though I reached my limit with 60, which was crazy). For about a week, I thought my hands were going to fall off, but at the same time, I could feel them getting stronger. Within a month, all symptoms of carpal tunnel had gone away, and I’ve only had one flare-up since then. So…milking may actually be therapeutic! :)

    Whew! That’s all I can think of for now. Like I said, if it turns out that hand-milking might work for you, you can probably do each goat in about a minute, once you get the hang of it. Then, you can impress your friends and family!

  3. Matriarchyon 04 Aug 2008 at 11:48 am

    I’m curious about taste. How does it taste compared to cow milk? Will your kids drink it? What are you doing with all that milk?

  4. Kimberly Hensonon 04 Aug 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Sharon, we have an ez milker that I will just send to you. I didn’t have much success with it and after I used it once it was “not returnable”. There is actually alot of frustration about it thru out the milking cows/goat forums. The ez milker website does a fantastic job promoting the product, just can’t return it after you try it. Bummer. I am willing to talk to you about it if you would like to email me privately or call me 916.802.7387. Honestly, I’ll send it to you for free. You may better at using it! This is the least we can do for all you do for us!!

    After years of hand milking, Scott and I are milking our goat(s) now with an electric
    milking machine (Hoegger goat supply, there is a less costly way for ‘do it yourselfers’ to fashion together a milking system that Joe Hoegger could discuss.) This machine is worth the investment. Now anyone can be taught to use the machine, where teaching someone to milk in an effective way , so to take a trip, is very challenging and harder on the animal.

    There is away to swing the arms, in milking, that corrects the tendency toward carpal tunnel flaring. Hope this helps! Kimberly

  5. Kimberly Hensonon 04 Aug 2008 at 12:19 pm

    If you keep your goats healthy; worming, brushing, good feed,water and hay, etc. (don’t let them run with a buck, and keep the buck penned away from the does )and have excellent sanitary and cleaning practices..by and large , the milk will have a wonderfully clean (not gamey, bucky flavor) Can do a Google search for ‘off flavor milk’ to better understand the underlying reasons.

    Children absolutely love the fresh taste of the milk. They are open vessels and don’t have preconceived ideas about goat milk.

    Scott and I and others we have shared the milk with have commented on how they do not struggle with allergy symptoms anymore(from grasses, pollens, etc.). Also, arthritis relief and more. Theory is , goats browsing the local landscape develop antibodies to the allergens and pass it through the milk. Actually, I’m not real clear why it works like it does!

    We love our goats and are so grateful for the many and varied benefits of drinking fresh, clean, raw goats milk!

  6. Amyon 04 Aug 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Sharon,

    I am so jealous. I’m going to have to drag Jeff over and try to sell him on the goat idea. He’s very resistant.

    I think it’s been 18 months, so it’s time for a visit again.

    Amy in Westerlo

  7. Fernon 04 Aug 2008 at 7:56 pm

    I’m jealous, too. Not only did I NOT get goats this weekend, I lost a crown on a molar. My dang teeth aren’t making it thru’ relatively GOOD dental care, scary to think of what will happen in a few years. I’m thinking that being able to carve wooden dentures might be a good future skill…

  8. Nitaon 06 Aug 2008 at 8:16 am

    I use two buckets, one with water to wash the cow with, and that bucket is never used for anything else. The hot water dilemma could be an issue, in the future. During the fire building season our water is heated through our wood furnace, before going to the electric hot water heater. Saves us a ton of money, but it is heated solely with electricity in the summer because we are trying to save wood.

    I milk by hand, because I don’t want to wash one more thing and sterilize it.

    I helped a friend procure a 2 milk cows, and she discovered she was getting carpal tunnel and she was experiencing pain in her joints after everyday farmstead work. Her ND recommended cutting out breads and sugar, and if eating grain in any form, properly soaking it to get rid of phytates. Guess what - her pain disappeared. She was glad to be able to milk, do regular chores and avoid surgery. It seems grains (even organic) or usually lacking the B-6 that used to make grains such a healthy food. I’m just passing this on, I know some people won’t quit eating grain and may have a more serious case than my friend.

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