There were so many analogies that popped into my head as I considered this question. My experience thus far is that milking a goat is like trying to collect an egg from a chicken while it’s flying. At least that’s what day one and two were like. I am now a one week old goat milker, therefore a seasoned professional. Let me share my week with you.
Last Friday night, we separated Bramble from her babies. I was sure to close all the windows for fear of the neighbors calling animal control on us. In the morning, I took Bramble out, put her on her milk stand, secured her head in the stanchion (aka head holder), and put food in her bucket. I then took baby wipes and thoroughly wiped her teats and my hands. I then placed my four cup, heavy Pyrex bowl under her and began to pull down on her teats.
Now Bramble hasn't been milked in probably four months because two months before she had her babies, her milk dried up so her body could prepare for birth. The babies were born two months ago and they have been exclusively nursing since then. Now let me tell you, I think I have the manners of a saint when I milk her compared to her babies, who go to town mercilessly on her and make me wince in pain as I reflect on my own breastfeeding days. Apparently Bramble is not used to my delicate manner.
Our first couple of days were a dance. She would dance, I would attempt to milk. She would put her foot in the bowl, I would curse and throw it out - the end. After two days of this dance and discouragement, I called her former owners. It turns out I was doing almost everything right, phew! What I needed to do better was hold her down. I didn't read anything about that when preparing to own my own dairy animal. I missed the, “and then you shove your goat against the wall with all of your weight, use one hand to block hooves and the other to milk” part.
Learning this new technique reinvigorated me this morning, it gave me new hope. The whole time I thought I wasn't being fast enough, so she’s getting mad and dancing. No, she was just abusing me! Well, with my renewed patience, I took my sweet time and got two cups of milk! She did her dance, I sang to her, we did the back and forth, and I WON :). You would be surprised at the beautiful songs I have composed to try to calm her, “You are my Milk Goat, My Only Milk Goat” and “This Little Goat of Mine.” I am truly a spectacle to behold.
Soon, her babies will not nurse anymore, they will be weaned. Then I will get to have her milk in the morning and at night, approximately four cups a day. This is just enough to keep up with our 2-3 gallon milk consumption in the house. I do hope to make cheese and other wonderful things with the milk too, but for now, I will settle for milk without hooves in it. The end.