Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Milking Process

So, a lot of you have been asking how do you milk the goat, or what's the process of milking a goat. And in this post, I will take you through step by step, of how I milk my goats....

First, I bring all of my clean milking equipment into the garage, where our milking stanchion is located. My milking equipment consists of: a stainless steel milking tote, a saucepan, a kitchen strainer, a strip cup, baby wipes, a brush, and grain and hay for feeding. Next, I bring out the goat from the pen, brush all of the excess hair and hay from her body, and bring her into the garage. Our Alpine, Willow, is pretty good about getting up on the milking stanchion by herself, but sometimes we have to persuade her with a raisin. :) After her head is secured in the stanchion, the milking begins! I use a baby wipe to clean off her udder and teats. I then take the strip cup (a stainless steel cup, with a strainer attached) and squirt a little milk from each teat to test for mastitis. Mastitis is an inflammation of the udder, due to an infection. You can "test" for mastitis by squirting the first milk into the strainer to check for any discoloration, lumps, or funny smells. After that, the real milking begins. After I have milked her dry, I take a baby wipe and clean off her teats. (When you milk an animal, such as a goat, the orifice on the teat expands. You have to make sure you clean it off after milking because bacteria can get in the teat, and cause mastitis) Next, I take the milk in the saucepan, and pour it into a milking tote and cover it with a lid (so that stuff doesn't get in the milk). After that, the goat is released from the stanchion, and put back into the pen. I then bring the milk inside, along with the used milking equipment, and filter the milk into a mason jar. We then weigh the milk and record it. (It is important to record the milk each time.) Next, I put the milk into the freezer for about 30 minutes, so that it can cool down quickly. During that time, I will usually rinse out all of the milking equipment, and submerge it into hot, soapy water, with Clorox. After the 30 minutes are up, I put the milk in the fridge, and by the next day, it will be thoroughly chilled and ready to drink! Lastly, I scrub down the milking gear, and put it on a drying rack so that it can air dry.

Alrighty! That's about it for now... I have posted some more pictures of the process on my flickr account. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life on the Ranch: The Goat Edition & "Farts" on the Farm

When Jordan and I were heading back from our honeymoon in Hawaii, we decided we would drop by California for a few days to visit his sister Courtney, and her husband Bryan. While we were there, we had the opportunity to come along with Courtney to one of her pet-sitting jobs. The "pet" that she was taking care of were Alpine dairy goats. Jordan and I had a chance to milk them and to taste for the first time ever, fresh, raw goat's milk. And it was DELICIOUS! I'm sure you have heard many accounts from people, claiming goat's milk to be smelly and weird tasting. Oh how wrong they are! Okay, they are not all wrong, but, after some research I discovered the source behind the often "gross" taste of goat milk. One, if you buy it from the store, it will probably taste weird. This could be caused by many different things; if the milking does were kept near a buck, or they were fed low-quality food, it will definitely alter the milk. All of this to say, goat's milk rocks! One little sip is all it takes to make you turn your back on that ol' cow's milk! So, if you are thinking of trying some, make sure you it comes from the person taking care of the goats, not the store.

Enough of the rambling...let's get to the point! Jordan and I have purchased, and are now in possession of two dairy does. Willow, our Alpine doe, is a wonderful milker. She produces about 9 cups a day (she's is still adjusting now, but 9 cups is her max.) of fresh creamy milk. She is two years old, and has only had one freshening. (Freshening means that she is producing milk, after having kids) Our second goat, Dottie, is a Nigerian Dwarf doe and is 22 months old. She has been bred, so we are hoping for some kids in the fall! She is not the biggest producer, but this could be because she has only freshened once. (Does usually develop their full teat and udder size, and maximum milk production typically after their second freshening.) Anyway, they are definitely keeping us on our toes, still trying to figure these new critters out.

Now for the "farts" on the farm, as Shannon put it... We picked up the goats Thursday morning, and decided we would put them in Shannon's fenced in garden while she and I finished their shelter. Well, once we goat over their (dragging the goats on leashes the whole way) we realized that the gate needed something to "lock" it. Shannon quickly whipped out the zip-ties, nylon rope, and wire fencing, and patched together a "goat-proof" lock... or so we thought. It was about 2ish when we finished putting the goats up, after which we decided we would go in and get some lunch. So we walk in, take off all our gear, grab the makings for sandwiches, when all of the sudden Shannon exclaims, "The goat has escaped!" She breaks out into a run/jog, and I follow quickly behind. As we were scurrying about, trying to get our gear on, I look out the door and see Willow standing on the porch, right in front of the door! Shannon says, "Let her in!" So we opened the door quickly, and Willow trotted right on in. We take her back, put her up once again, go back into the house, get all our gear off, start making lunch, looked out the window and saw to our surprise that Willow has escaped again! You can imagine what happened next... A complete repeat of the previous account! We sit down to eat lunch, breathing a sigh of relief, look out the window and see both of the goats roaming free! Oh Man!! A few hours later, after decided to finish the shelter right then and there, we finally got to eat our lunch at 4pm. I am now proud to say that we truly have a goat-proof, fool-proof, "fart"-proof, goat shelter, that not even a genius goat Houdini could break free from.

Go to the link below to check out some pictures of life on the ranch... I will try to post some more pictures of us milking the goats. Enjoy!