I've shown you how to make some cheeses (and intend to show you more eventually).
I've also shared with you my matriarch goat Morgana's story.
It's time to show you a bit more of the goat world, and bring you into the milk room. This is a photo essay showing how my dad, "Mr. James", goes about his twice-daily milkings.
Each of his goats, whether nice or naughty, sweet or sour, is like a pet to him, and many of them respond in kind. It is difficult for him to get away for any kind of vacation, as his goats prefer his company over anyone else's, and go on strike, even refusing to come in the milk room, if anyone else tries to take care of them.
With that in mind, here's the tour.
Here is the counter where the milker, cream skimmer, and other utensils are kept. The laundry-style sink is great for washing up bulky items, such as the milk pain, the stock pots in which the milk is refrigerated, and calf-feeding bottles.
Here is the milk stand. The step was originally built for Morgana's aunt, "Jingles". She had trouble jumping up without stepping on herself. Several of the goats continue to appreciate this arrangement.
Here is the milker hose and compressor switch. Dad prefers not to milk by hand.
The Milking Process
Here comes Mr. James with his first sweetie, a half LaMancha, half Nubian girl named Jonie.
Another intro: "Panzy", who lives up to her name. Dad teases her by calling her "Panzilla". She doesn't use the extra step, but leaps right up.
"Where's my grain? I want my grain." Each goat is given a few cups of a corn-oat mix to munch while they're being milked.
This is "Too". She is an extremely good milk goat specimen. She and her herdmate "Friend" look similar, and she received her name when Mr. James asked her, "Do you want to be my friend, too?"
Jonie also has a nice profile.
Panzy again. I like her horns. I wanted her for my own, until I found out what a pansy she truly is.
Still, she looks so classic.
Mr. James washes the udders with warm, soapy water...
...then attaches the milking machine, which works by gentle, pulsing suction.
Most of the goats don't mind being milked at all.
This goat has a reasonably good udder attachment (something not all milk goats can brag).
My daugher, "Tyger", likes to pet the goats, and always speaks to them nicely. (That's a bag of popcorn she's holding. They like that, too.)
Time to go out. The exchange can happen very quickly, as there are almost always at least two goats trying to get into the room.
Other times, certain goats decide they're not done, and must be "helped" from the room.
My son, Billy, also likes to spend time with the goats.
Hugs, Kisses, and Tricks
"Hannah" begging for more grain. I wish you could see her lips twitch and her eyes roll.
Several of Mr. James' goats give kisses, too. Be careful, though - they smell funny. Mr. James tells them, "Just hugs, no kisses."
Just because the milking is done doesn't mean chores are over. This is "Sunny", Billy's goat.
She is practicing to be a grown-up doe, and may one day be a fine milker.
She is related to Morgana...and acts like it, too. She appreciates the finer things in life, like playing hide'n'seek with spilled oats, and having the run of the milk room.
Spoiled, that's what she is. And proud of it.
Caring For the Milk
Mr. James pours the milk from the milker pail into a 2-gallon stock pot, using a filter.
He likes to get the pots full enough for most of the cream to stick to the lids.
Time to do dishes. The spray-nozzle, rigged up straight to the hot water supply, powers the dishes clean with very little effort. Mr. James often adds a bit of bleach or other sanitizer to the water.
A stainless steel drainboard, where Mr. James can organize and store his equipment, is a very convenient thing.
Milking Times - How Long Does It Take to Milk a Goat?
That's it. At the time these pictures were taken (fall 2009), Mr. James had several does milking. The whole process could take well over an hour.
On average, each doe takes about five minutes to actually milk out with a machine. Hand milking can take longer - say, 7 to 15 minutes apiece, depending on udder conformation and the personality of the goat (how skittish is she?).
Having goats has turned into a labor of love for Mr. James...as it does for many goat owners. Goats are a bit like dogs in their personalities, and usually like the humans in their lives very much.
You get more than milk from a dairy goat...you get love and laughs, too.