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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Best Part of My Day

{As a side note, I'd love to post the really great pictures I have taken in the last two plus weeks, but my USB cord for my camera is nowhere to be found.  I ordered a card reader last night so in 6-8 business days, I'll be up and running.}

My love affair with goats is well known.  I'm not sure even Hubby knows just how deep it runs.  They are my girls and I love them dearly.  I love milking.  I really do.  I've told many people that the best part of my day is spent at the back end of a goat.

Every morning I prepare my milking items:  paper towels, paper cup, homemade teatdip/udder wash, and milk pail.  I walk out to the milk stand and place those items beside it.  Then I take a small pail and fetch the alfalfa pellets.  (Because we feed our goats no grain whatsoever, the pellets are their treat to come and milk.)

Then it's time to fetch the goats.  They come one at a time.  Suzanne is first because she is the boss.  She has always milked first and would probably be horribly offended if she wasn't.  And the last thing you want to do is horribly offend a goat.

Suzanne is our best milker.  And by best I mean she is the easiest to milk and gives the most milk.  She is just a two year old and won't hit her peak for another year or two.  She is a beautiful cinnamon color with black legs.  She's beautiful.  Form and function.

She leaps onto the milk stand.  I think she likes milking as much as I do.  She plunges her nose into her alfalfa pellets as I plunge a paper towel into the sanitizing liquid to wash her full udder, taut with creamy milk. I wash and dry, bumping her with my hands as I do so.  The bumping is purposeful, it stimulates her to let down her milk.  As a squirt the cleansing first stream of milk from each teat, Suzanne spreads her legs to make room for the milk pail.

In the freezing late November mornings, the warm milk steams as it rings off the bottom of my stainless steel milk pail.  Suzanne milks so easily that foam forms almost immediately.  Stream after stream of milk course through my hands.  I'm taking a part of her, the best her body has to give.  As a woman and as a mother of three children that I fed, I understand what she is giving us.  I fed my babies and now I trust Suzanne to feed them.

I think of these things as I milk.  Of course, I don't think for long because Suzanne is such an easy milker that I'm done in just minutes.  She is finishing her pellets, I can hear her chasing them across the bottom of her feed pan.  But even if she finishes before I'm done, she'll stand there and wait.  When the last morsel is consumed, she leaps down and heads back to the corral.  It's Rosie's turn now.

Rosie is the smallest of our goats.  And she is quiet, calm and shy.  This makes her the bottom of the herd pecking order.  But I don't think she minds.  She raised two big buck kids this summer so we didn't milk her until later this fall.  Rosie has small teats which make her slightly more difficult to milk.  She milks easily, meaning that her teats, even though they are small, have a large diameter that allows the milk to flow faster.

I run my hands over her as she begins to eat.  She's thin, thinner than I like my milking goats to be.  But she worked hard to raise those two kids and she's in need of a rest.  I will dry her off in a few days.  Today she too will give me all she has.  And I'm grateful for her gift.  Rosie is three years old, a gorgeous black/tan/white combination.  She is fine boned and feminine.  She does not give the quantity that Suzanne does, but it is just as rich and delicious.  By design, I always finish milking before Rosie is done eating.  I do this for two reasons:  she needs the extra nutrition to put on some weight and I want some extra time to love on her.  To brush her and run my hands over her.  Because we didn't milk her until later, she was the most skittish.  I want her to know my touch and my voice.  We need to know each other well.

It's a miracle really.  This process of turning grass or hay, water, and a few alfalfa pellets into milk.  I know exactly what my girls are eating.  I see them eat the most noxious weeds:  Canadian thistle, wormwood, stinging nettle, marshelder; and they turn it into creamy, delicious milk.  They stand on their hind legs and strip the leaves from the Chinese elm.  The lower their heads and tear off an entire dock plant and then look at me as the whole plant disappears into their mouths.

Every morning I take all the milk they have.  Every drop.  And the next morning, I do it again.  It's a beautiful thing, milking goats.  Their beauty, the beauty of their gift, the beauty of our partnership.  We're working together on this farm.  

And that is the best part of my day and I spend it at the back end of a goat.


3 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post! thanks so much for sharing this.

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  2. Oh my goodness, what a lovely description of your goats, your milking time and your relationship with them.

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  3. That was so lovely! You show such care and affection!

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