Our goats arrived on Tuesday evening, and we are LOVING them!! Bella is a wonderful, beautiful momma and Alice is such a sweet little kid. They are quickly settling in here.
Yesterday morning (the goats’ first morning here), I went into the barn bright and early with the intention of milking Bella. I had never milked a goat before. But, I had read some books and milked a cow when I was a child, so how hard could it be? I had all three of my children with me, the older two eager to see the goat’s milk in the bucket and the baby on my back in a mei tai carrier.
Bella looked at us with great suspicion. She had only spent a brief time with us the night before and was in a totally new place for the first time in her life. I led her out of her stall and tied her to a post with some hay in front of her. Then I got out my warm wash cloth to wash her udder (just like I had read, oh I felt smart!), and as soon as I touched her, Bella gave a little kick and moved her rear end away from me. I tried again, and again, but Bella wanted nothing to do with me.
The kids were sitting on a bale of straw, getting impatient and wanting to see some action. Lynden started chanting, “Goat’s milk! Goat’s milk! Goat’s milk!” and Raina kept repeating, “Want goat milk, mama!” Bella didn’t seem too pleased with the noisy little kids sitting on the straw bale, staring at her. Within another moment, the baby on my back started wailing, and that was the end of my first attempt at milking. Bella was clearly unimpressed.
This morning I tried again. The baby was sleeping and the older children had lost interest, so Bella and I were alone in the barn while I made my feeble attempt at milking. The situation was much improved from the day before – Bella actually let me touch her and squeeze her teats for a few moments before becoming impatient and putting a quick end to things. Progress! I fed her some carrots and an apple from the tree, and she quickly decided that she might actually like me. I tried again, and got a few more squeezes in.
Nothing came out.
Obviously I failed to trigger a let-down reflex, and didn’t spend even a fraction of enough time working at milking Bella. Clearly I needed more goat-milking education than a book could provide. I called my Gramma, who grew up on a farm. Surely she would help me!
Turns out Gramma had never milked a goat before, but had milked plenty of cows in her day and figured it couldn’t be much different. She came on over and got to work on Bella, who stood nice and still for my 80-year-old Gramma and didn’t fuss or kick. Within two squeezes, there was milk squirting out of Bella’s teats! Hoorah!
Gramma didn’t get much milk, because she didn’t milk for long – just long enough to show me what to do. I tell ya, seeing milking in action made a world of difference for me! Some things just can’t be conveyed very well in a book. Goat milking is one of them.
This evening I went into the barn again for my third attempt at milking Bella. Jae held her nice and still for me (oh boy, do we ever need to build a milking stand!) and I got to work trying to imitate the motions Gramma showed me. Suddenly, a glorious thing happened: milk squirted into my bucket! I got a good ten or twelve squirts in there before Bella decided she had had enough – not more than a tablespoon of milk, but enough to boost my spirits and give me hope for the future!
Tomorrow morning, I try again. Bella and I will make a rockin’ milking team yet!
On a totally unrelated note, our chickens have been enjoying the roof of their coop quite a lot lately: