I have something to report:
The goat is standing on the milk stand!!!!
Sorry that deserved way more exclamation points than just one or two.
And since I’m so excited over it I’m going to repeat: the goat is standing on the milk stand!!
We have jars of the beautiful delicious milk in the refrigerator and the freezer. I’ve made yogurt and cheese with it so far and I cannot explain how much like a homesteading rock star I feel like when I’m making cheese from the milk from my goat. Even if I have to be up in the wee hours of the morning to milk her.
**I should note that I am very dramatic and tend to just run and dive off a cliff when I am pushed to the point of beyond frustrated. Since bringing goats home they have been nothing but a challenge for me. Thankfully I have a hubby that is far wiser than I, and has endless patience. Seriously the man is a rock. He said we weren’t selling the goats even when I was ready to give up on the entire dairy episode. Lucky for me I listened to him.
5 Tips For Getting A Goat To Stand To Be Milked
1. Have a proper milk stand. I was using a bench that did not have a head attachment to hold her head in place. I would tie her to it so she couldn’t get away but she was able to move her head and where the head goes the back end follows, and I was getting tired of her swaying back and forth. Hubby finally took pity on me and found time in his busy schedule to make a “medieval torture device” as he calls it (aka a milk stand with a head attachment so I can lock her in place). I know several people who milk without a stand, but I am just not one of those people.
2. Eliminate distractions. We have mosquitoes here like you wouldn’t believe. I get swarmed whenever I head out to the goat shed in the morning and it is all I can do to get away without losing a quart or more of blood to those little boogers (I have a better name for them, but I’m a christian woman so I’ll just use the name boogers). If Phoebe has a mosquito biting her she kicks (who wouldn’t). So first step eliminate bugs. Secondly if she can hear her kid calling for her, there is no holding her back. She is a fantastic mother, so good that it’s almost a fault. Second step take her somewhere where she can’t hear her kid. For us these two things have brought us to milking in our screened in porch on the back of the house. No bugs, and can hardly hear the yelling from the goat shed. Someday we hope to have a milking room (that is not almost in our house) but for now this works for us.
3. Bribery works. Bribe that goat. I have to walk her from the barn to the porch to milk her, and don’t like dragging her across the yard. Phoebe loves raisins and dried cranberries so I always have either in my pocket. She’s gotten so that now I hardly have to give her any to walk. But at first it was two steps, raisin, two more steps, raisin. Whenever she would stall I would give her treat to get her moving again. She got a raisin when she got up on the milk stand (even when I was pushing her up there), and she now happily hops up herself. I also give her one after we’re done milking to reward good behavior. If she’s been awful on the stand she doesn’t get one.
4. Know what your goat likes. Phoebe doesn’t like alfalfa pellets on the stand. It took me way longer than it should have to figure this out. If I just give her grain she gulps it down in 2 seconds flat, but if I mix in alfalfa pellets she just flat out refuses to even stick her head where it’s supposed to go. The compromise? She gets a bit extra grain on the stand and anything else she likes mixed in there to make her slow down on her eating. Apples and carrots are two of her favourite treats so I cube up some and mix it with her grain ration. This makes her slow down her eating to give me a chance to milk her out before she gets impatient. Some people have also reported that they rest their head against the goat’s flank and it seems to calm them. (Maybe it feels like a kid against them?) I have tried this a few times, but Phoebe isn’t real cuddly. At least not with me. She prefers if I keep my head to myself.
5. Keep to a routine. It is the same routine with us. I go out in the morning and get her from her little stall. Walk her across the yard to the porch (with a few raisins), her grain ration is already mixed up in her bucket on the stand, she gets up on the stand and eats, I lock her in, milk her out, give her a raisin if she was good, and walk her back out. Same routine. Some days she’s in a mood and I can hardly get her across the yard but the routine is the same. If she kicks and tries to lay down I don’t take my hands off her udder (although one usually does grab my milk bucket out of the way. I can grab that thing and get it to safety in half a second flat). If she is really insisting on laying down I prop a bucket underneath her to hold her up. If she gets her foot in the milk bucket and ruins the milk I still milk her out. She’s starting to realize that all her antics are not going to stop me. We have mostly good days now. If she tolerates me and just eats her grain the milking is done in no time and she is free to go about her day. Also some people talk to their goats, or sing to them. I don’t do either. I’m very quiet and just do what I gotta do.
This week was the first time I was starting to see improvement with Phoebe’s behavior while being milked. Hopefully we are on the road to better milking sessions.