Today was my first morning milking Penny (pictured behind Ivar), who was named Penny because she was born on Pentecost Sunday. It is fitting, because it seems Penny has a little fire in her. She’s not super keen on me taking her milk. She tells me so with her flailing hoofs.
For four days I have been simply training her to get up in her milking stand and rewarding her with grain. It seems simple enough, but it has been a downright circus at times, trying to get Penny out of the pen with corn, and not the other goats. Because when everyone hears the corn, the crowd goes wild. I have now figured out how to let the other two goats outside, leaving just Penny in the barn.
Honestly, between you and me, I am the one being trained.
But today I got Penny up in her stand. I put hobbles on her kicking legs, which actually took the bulk of the time. And then I got milking.
And new this year! I have a new milking system. It’s called the Henry Milker 2. The last one I had was called Becca’s Hands. But my friend Sarah introduced me to this thing and it is awesome. It means I don’t actually milk with my hands except to get her started and then I hook up the Henry 2, and with a hand pump, build up pressure in the tube to take the milk directly to the jar. It is a great system because the milk is never exposed to the air and elements. It just goes right into the sterilized jar.
Today I was able to milk one teet, and then my bucking bronco, I mean, darling, gentle goat told me that we were done. So I called it a victory and came in the house with 12 ounces of farm fresh goat milk.
We chilled the jar in ice water and an hour later we each had our first dixie cup full of goats milk. And then the crowd really did go wild. We were thrilled. This house is so enthusiastic about our own dairy . . . Likely because we know exactly where this milk came from and the living conditions of the animals. It tastes just like cows milk, sweet and has no other actual taste.
Just as an FYI: I have come to learn recently that not all goat’s milk is the same. I read a goat blog (yup) who says her goat milk varies in taste based on the breed of the goat she is milking and the stock where it came! I had no idea. I had thought it had more to do with what the goat was fed. But apparently these are all factors that affect the taste. And what we learned today is that we have great stock and they are eating the right stuff.
So here I am, day one of bringing farm-fresh milk into my family at breakfast time. It feels great. I thought adding “milk a goat” into my daily routine would tip me over the edge, but it actually has done the opposite. Mornings in the barn are amazing. The light that pours in is beautiful, the animals are happy to see you and the fresh air works the same as a cup of coffee.
Tomorrow I will try to milk both sides. Small victories every day. That’s the goal.