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    My Life as a Milkmaid

    May 31, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    I really will try to make this the last microhomestead-related post for a while. I know some of you are getting bored. But there are a few things I want to record before I forget…in case I ever need to know them again in the future.

    Also, I have been wondering: since I am married, does that make me a milkmatron instead? It really doesn’t have the same ring to it, so I sort of hope not.

    But first, news on the babies.

    They are doing great, and both growing healthy and strong. Kelly warned me about this, and it is true: the babies will try to nurse everything.

    So they try to nurse tables…

    And chairs…

    Thankfully, for all involved, they do eventually find their mama.

    After that, they wrestle and explore.

    And then they take a nap!
    The first 48 hours, they slept almost all the time. Now, they are up playing King of the Mountain and generally having a good time. I am seriously in love with these little guys. Milking is fun with two little babies playing at my feet!

    Learning to Milk

    My husband couldn’t build much
    when we married, but, my, hasn’t
    he come a long way in 11 years!
    I can’t say that I had any expectations in regard to learning to milk. I knew that Reece and I were both novices, and so I was pretty much unprepared for anything. Thankfully, Si built me a stanchion, and I really don’t know what I would have done to train her without a place to feed her grain…and lock her head into position so she couldn’t escape!
    We knew that Si would need to help me the first few times, but even so, we were surprised at what happened.
    First, we had to woo her onto the table. She was curious, but resistant. Thankfully, she is the tamest, sweetest goat we’ve owned thus far and this really helped. Eventually, she figured out that to get the grain she wanted, she was required to jump on the stand and put her head between the slats. {The boards that are crossed in the picture are movable–they are in the locked position, but when unlocked, she can get her head in just fine.}
    Second, we had to clean her up. Now, she hadn’t been cleaned since her kidding, so she was extra yucky. We made a solution of warm water mixed with cider vinegar and a drizzle of dish soap. Even though it was warm, she did not think that a little bath was a good idea.
    So she decided to sit down.
    Apparently, the feed box is just low enough that she can eat and sit at the same time, something we didn’t anticipate. She made a few choking noises, so I know this was not easy to pull off, but she did not care. Noooo….She was determined that we would not touch her.
    So Si picked her up. And I washed her down. All future washing have gone quickly, but this time she was caked with debris and it took a while…which basically means she hated it.
    At this point in the game, she was standing. Everything was taking so long that I added more grain to the box, just in case {smart move, that one}.
    Now, it was time to milk. I barely touched her udder when…she sat down again! She left a little bit hanging out on Si’s side, so he tried to get at it, but she quickly wiggled around until all of it was safely underneath her.
    I think she smirked at me.
    So, we did the only thing we could think of: Si picked her back up. And I milked. And let me tell you, my arms were tired because it is a motion I’m not accustomed to, but I’m sure Si’s were even more tired after holding a heavy animal up in the air. He held her up; we took a break. He held her up some more; we took a break. And so on and so forth, ad nauseum.
    All of that for about 3/4 cup of milk!
    And the next day was about the same, except that she jumped right up on the table, and didn’t fuss when we locked her in.
    By the third day, things were going better. I could wash her quickly, and without a fuss. She even stood for most of the milking! And by the second milking of the third day, she stood the entire time.
    Today is the sixth day, and she’s doing great. I no longer need Si’s help, and she is usually watching for me when I come out at about 6:15am to start the day. I’m only getting a little over half a cup of milk because the babies have usually beat me there, but I figure this first week is mostly about learning to milk and be milked. The other stuff will come in time.
    It is interesting to me how my relationship with Reece is so different from my relationship with the other animals. All of this training and time spent together has caused me to really know her in a way I don’t know the others, and there seems to be an understanding between us that just isn’t there with, for instance, Charlotte {who really needs to have a baby to calm her down, I think–at 10 months now, she is a bit too rambunctious for my taste and I think it is from idleness}.
    Kelly tells me that tomorrow {at one week old}, I can separate Reece from her kids for an hour before the evening milking–that I might get a more milk! I plan to try it and see how it goes. I’ve been doing the second milking around 7pm, because that is what fits our schedule, but I think it’ll be easy enough to run separate them at 6pm. Thankfully, we have a little tiny cage that will do the job nicely.
    And that’s all. Tomorrow I will try to talk about Russell Kirk.
    At least, that is the plan.

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  • Reply Naomi June 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I love the posts, too. If my children were older, they’d probably enjoy them as well. Keep up the micro-homestead posting! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sara June 2, 2012 at 12:28 am

    My daughter was charmed by your video (she’s 11) and so this post will be on the list for her to read tomorrow. We have a small farm in the Blue Ridge, but right now just hay, and grazing for our neighbor’s cows.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Maybe your *daughter* will get to be a milkmaid someday, too. πŸ™‚ I will have to see about another video, maybe of the baby bucks playing King of the Mountain. That is always fun. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Rebekah June 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I love reading your microhomestead posts. I read them to the kids and they enjoy it too. We’ve even used your posts for school so don’t stop please!

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 1, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Your children? Wow, Rebekah, I am honored! And I will try and write some updates, with photos, in the future…just for them. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Lift Up Your Hearts June 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Oh, please do keep us updated! I really enjoy hearing about your little farm!

  • Reply Crunchy_Conservative June 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    “…Charlotte {who really needs to have a baby to calm her down, I think… she is a bit too rambunctious for my taste and I think it is from idleness}.” Honestly, that made me laugh out loud! Those kids are utterly adorable.

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 1, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      Did you laugh because you know some humans about whom this is true as well? I have met some women like this. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Mahers Hill Academy June 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Your posts are bringing back memories for me. πŸ™‚ We had goats when I was a girl and I remember watching the kids being born and helping to milk sometimes ( my dad built a stanchion, too). Baby goats are so fun to watch exploring and leaping around. πŸ™‚ It was funny, because my sisters, mom and I all disliked the taste of goat’s milk, but my dad and several other male acquaintances who tried it liked it – strange!

    • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts June 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      What a neat childhood memory!

      I have never had a consistent source of *fresh* goat milk, but we did grocery store goat milk with our third child for a couple years, and I always thought it smelled *terrible.* That was a big concern for us, actually, in doing this. We didn’t want to end up with milk that was “goaty.” That is why, when we heard about Kinder milk {purported to taste like cow milk}, we found a breeder and went and taste-tested the milk. It tasted *exactly* like the raw cow milk we buy! It was amazing! The breeder said that she always had the milk available to all of her children’s friends {for 15 years} and no one had ever even commented that the milk wasn’t from a cow! And *that* is why we decided to go with Kinders.

      Of course, the breeder also said that she strictly controlled the feed. The more tree leaves they eat can make the milk strong, she said, as can certain weeds. We are letting Reece eat weeds, but hopefully that will never taint the milk too much. I appreciate her weed eating services too much to deny her!

  • Reply Mystie May 31, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Super cute little kids! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Pam... May 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Our doeling was separated from her momma around 3-4 weeks, for the whole night. Works fine. I’ve heard 2-6 weeks. I suppose everyone has an opinion, eh? So we get our milk from her mom in the mornings, and then let them be together all day. This means no milk from that mom for evening milking, but that will change when baby completely weans. (I dont’ know exactly when that will be, because how on earth could we separate them by day? Lol. Still learning here too. πŸ™‚ It works out nice to have a second milking doe with no babies. (Her baby was sold.)

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts May 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Okay, so a question for you 2 milkmaids. πŸ™‚

    What is YOUR approach as far as separating mamas from kids in order to get more milk. What I am looking for specifically is how old you start doing it, for how long they are separated, how old when to separate them overnight, etc. Since you are ahead of me on this path, I’d love to hear. Kelly told me what she does but I would love to hear about it from…well, anyone who is willing to share, actually. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sarah May 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I became a milkmaid around a month ago, too. πŸ™‚

    We’ve always had Boer goats, not dairy breeds, but Hubby bought two fresh goats (one Toggenburg and one Lamancha/Saanen cross). The difference between these two does is like night and day, though, when it comes to personality. Twilight is so laid back about everything and gives her milk so easily (almost a half gallon per milking), while Lumos is ornery and very difficult to milk because of her behavior (and the smaller size of her teats). She takes twice as long to milk as Twilight while giving half as much.

    It is amazing how one comes to know an animal through milking it. I know these two goats’ habits so well that despite Lumos’ orneriness, I can predict when she will attempt to kick and I can adjust my body or the pail accordingly. And the goats know my habits, too! They know who I will come for first to milk and at what point I’ll give them their grain.

    Glad to hear y’all are settling in to a nice rhythm!

  • Reply Pam... May 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Love it. Been going through the same things. It’s so funny when I look back one month ago, but on that first day I was near tears. ‘I can’t do this!!” has changed to a peaceful family thing we all go about helping each other with. Yes, you do get to know their personalities! My 3 year old says “I love you Popcorn. You are so calm.” and he pets her like a big dog. They are like dogs, yet they give us milk!! They are so fun to watch frolicky and spazzing out in the field. The kids bust a gut watching them. It’s good fun, but maybe only some of us can really appreciate it!! lol

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