Friday, October 16, 2009

The Milkmaid's Report

After the milk-dumping episode, I couldn't stop thinking about ways to fix the situation with Blossom. I decided to milk her three times a day to get her used to the process. That didn't work, however—she was fine on the milking stand at noon and in the evening, but gave only a tablespoon of milk each time, since the babies had been nursing. In the morning, she turned into the milking monster I described in my earlier post.

My practical-minded husband viewed this as another in the long list of goat challenges I have asked him to solve over the years. (Some challenges he has solved: installing a sliding lock so the goats can't get into the chicken house; hanging the mineral feeder so the goats can't knock it over, and so on.) He immediately came up with a system of hobbles (using old belts) that would keep Blossom's hind legs on the floor of the milking stand. But I didn't want Blossom to stand for milking because she had to. I wanted her to stand because she wanted to.

mrb suggested in a comment that Blossom was upset because she'd been separated from her babies during the night, and I agreed. The “energy” in the goat house in the mornings was frantic, with the babies squeaking for Blossom and Virginia Slim (since they nurse both of them) and the two grown goats screaming because they wanted to get to the babies.

Last night, I didn't separate the babies from the big goats. When I checked on them before going to bed, they were all snuggled together against the cold, a peaceful scene. This morning, before light, I went out with my milk pail and put the just-awakened Blossom on the stand. Surprise! She stood there and ate grain, and let me milk her without a peep or a kick. Her udder wasn't quite as full as if I'd taken the babies away at night, but they don't nurse much in the dark, so I got a respectable amount of milk.

The trick, then, is for me to get to the goats before they wake up—but that, given Bisou's need for a bathroom break in the wee hours, should not be a problem.

Staying awake the rest of the day is another story.

4 comments :

  1. That's a wonderful picture -- the mamas and babies snuggled together against the cold night. Is Virginia Slim now going to be milked too?

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  2. mrb, I've been milking her all along (she was "fresh," as they say, when we bought her) so I'll continue. But she sure is giving those babies a lot of her milk, and her attention!

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  3. you are so smart. and stubborn!

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  4. Laurie, have you ever watched that training show called "It's Me Or The Dog"? Around here, it's me or the goat.

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