Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Confessions Of A Milkmaid

It was Christmas Day when I gave up milking my goats because of terrible pains in my shoulder. It took a lot for me to reach that decision. After all, things were going swimmingly in the goat house: the babies had just gone to a wonderful home and I was getting almost two quarts/day from Blossom, their mother. For a Nigerian Dwarf goat, that is a lot of milk--and what milk it was, rich, sweet, full of protein and fat. My city-bred grandchildren, who were staying with us during the holidays, were drinking the stuff as fast as Blossom could make it, and the one adult in the family who puts cream in her coffee was happily using Blossom's milk instead.

But Blossom, as I have explained, was a demon milker, and each encounter on the milking stand required much bending and twisting and holding and forcing and sweating, not to mention actual milking, on my part. It hurt so much that I finally quit.

I stopped feeding the goats grain (I gave them all the hay they wanted) and that and the cold weather helped them to stop producing almost immediately. At the moment, then, I don't have dairy goats. I have, it pains me to say it, pet goats.

Why does it pain me to keep goats, especially these adorable tiny goats, as pets? I don't know. All I can say is that I have a compulsion to have only farm animals that are productive, that feed us, that eat our grass (though mostly they eat hay I buy at the store) and our pumpkins and turn them into milk, or in the case of the hens, into eggs. I have a vision of the cycle of nature being reenacted on our bit of land, and the goats need to be participants rather than spectators.

For the moment, however, Blossom and Virginia Slim are dry. In the mornings I take them a bucket of water spiked with cider vinegar, give them a handful of grain, open their door to the outside, replenish their hay and bid them have a good day. I'm back in the house in no time. There's no milk to strain, no milk pail and strainer to wash. Same thing in the evening. I miss the milking and it's not that much trouble, really, but...it's awfully nice not to have to do it.

4 comments :

  1. I've never had goat's milk. What does it taste like?

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  2. Depending on the breed of goat and the way the milk is handled, goat's milk can have that peculiar "goaty" taste that a lot of goat cheese has. (I personally find that taste unbearable, in either milk or cheese.) Generally, the higher the butterfat content, the better the milk tastes. Nigerian Dwarf goats have the highest butterfat of all breeds, and their milk is rich and sweet and delicious.

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  3. Or if you keep a billy goat around (which we don't), the milk will pick up that strong odor/taste.

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  4. And I can attest -- the milk we've had from these goats and all our previous Nubians was indistinguishable from cows' milk, or if anything even better (and I'm rather picky!).

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