Well, the goats arrived on Saturday. The names alone suggested that the seller was a cowboy of the Brokeback Mountain variety, but he was a real sweetie about helping us settle them in and getting us going with the milking. We have no luck with the names we inherit with our critters, though – first, a big tough guard dog named Cherry, and now goats with names like Silhouette and Mysterious. Really? Goats? Yes, really. Goats.
Saffron, the milker, is quite a patient goat. I have milked a goat, before…twenty years ago, as a teenager, at a camp. Twice. For about two minutes each time. I did not recall it being all that difficult, but then again, it’s not like I milked that one from start to finish, either. Our first round of chores after the seller left took about three hours. Poor Saffron did not like our milking stand, for starters. It is high, so I can stand while I milk, and she found the ramp slippery. She would put one dainty little hoof on it, then change her mind when she put some weight on it. After half an hour of this, Hubby and I finally got frustrated, and helped her along, with me pulling from the front, and Hubby pushing from the back. Both making all sorts of threats and promises. It was quite a production.
Once we had her up on the stand, the real fun began. Milking took about half a lifetime, and in the nineteen hours I was yanking on that udder, I managed to get about six squirts worth of milk in the actual pail. I had milk up the wall, down the stand, all over Hubby and myself, on the tail of a barn cat who got a little too curious, and, at one point, up the nose of the poor goat, who was giving me one of those ‘aren’t you done yet?’ sorts of looks. In all, once we got the milk back in the house and filtered, we got about a quart, which we filtered and put in the fridge for putting in our coffee and over our cereal in the morning.
Or, rather, I put in my coffee and in my cereal in the morning. Hubby is still getting over the gag factor of having seen his breakfast squirting out of a couple of big, hairy nipples, on the business end of a big, hairy goat. I forget just how little exposure Hubby has had to livestock, and sometimes have…unrealistic expectations…of him. On the second day, I sent him to go get the milker while I readied the feed and cleaned the milking stand.
“Which one’s the milker?” he hollered from the big girls’ stall at the back of the barn.
“The one with the biggest udder,” I replied.
“Neither of them have udders” he called back.
What? I thought we only got one boy!
I went back to the stall, confused. There was Hubby, feeling around on the goats’ chests. Right where he would expect the nipples to be, I suppose.
“Um, honey, the udder is at the other end…”
It was like living in a Monty Python movie for a while, there.
We’re up to about a quart and a half of milk per milking, now, mostly because I am getting better at hitting the bucket. Hubby now knows where to find a goat udder. We’ve fixed up the ramp so that the goat will go up and down it with minimal fuss, and I can milk her out in about ten minutes, now. Chores now take just a bit over an hour…thank goodness, since I still have to go to work in the morning, and this business of going to bed at 11 after three hours in the barn, only to get up at 4:30 to do it all over again was really getting to me. I’ve been udderly exhausted…