Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Goat Milk?

Medieval torture device? That's probably what Lucy would call it if she could talk. The whole milking thing is not going over so well. If you have ever tried to put lace up shoes on a tantruming two year old, then you might have some idea of what the past week has been like at milking time. Now imagine that futile attempt with a 75 pound creature who has horns. Not pretty.

I knew from the start that Lucy would probably be difficult to milk. She has never taken kindly to having her undersides touched, fluttering her legs at anyone who might try to have a go at her down there. In preparation for milking, I made her this hobble

and I was pretty darn proud of it too. Until, that is, I found out it wasn't going to work. The hobble is supposed to restrict the goat's ability to kick, which it does. However, it does nothing to prevent full fledged bucking.

Aside from fish out of water flailing, Lucy will attempt to sit like a dog when I touch her teats. Goats can't really sit like dogs so it's more of a buckling of her hind legs. Thus far the only way to milk her is by hovering over her flank and sticking the elbow of the milking hand into her belly, while holding a jar directly under the teat with the other hand. Every couple of squeezes she tries to pull her head out of the stanchion. Her legs move back and forth in her struggle and I find myself doing the two step on the back of a goat while simultaneously fending off Ethel and the babies and making one heck of an effort to keep the milk in the jar. Most folks would probably give up after a couple days of this. We're going on week two. Too bad for Lucy, I'm a Kooy, which as my birthright makes me at least twice as stubborn as a goat.

None of this is helped by Lucy's double teat that the vet screwed up when he clipped it. The doc assured me that lopping it off was the way to go if I wanted to be able to efficiently milk her. Her teat was supposed to scar up where he cut it and then she would have just one opening. Wrong! Both openings remain, but one of the holes no longer points down and now that teat squirts in two directions at a 90 degree angle. Try getting that into a container! Half the milk goes into the jar, while the other half ends up on the wall or in my face.

I'm sure part of Lucy's resistance is that everyone seems to be trying to get a little chi chi around here. The kids butt at her udder like miniature battering rams to bring the milk down. I'm giving her a good wringing once a day. And the other night, Ethel sneaked in a suck while Lucy was on the milking stand. Good Lord, no wonder the poor thing is testy!

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  1. Awwwww. Good luck Heidi! I can't wait to hear about fresh goat cheese coming from your homestead!

  2. I have a feeling we're going to have a similar issue with Daisy. She hates being touched, particularly by Tom. Bella, on the other hand isn't too difficult.

    Good luck! I hope it gets better.

  3. I loved your story. It was comical and cute. Poor Lucy. I could not see the images though. They did not load. But the story was well written, that I could picture it all in my head.

  4. I think I'd be upset, too...
    I've heard from a fair number of experienced goat owners that you just have to out-stubborn them at this stage. Don't reward bad behavior, and don't give up. She'll eventually lose the fight.