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FOR BEGINNERS & Beyond

Once upon a time there was a woman who bought a goat. She was so excited to drink fresh milk every day! She woke up early one morning, and with butterflies in her stomach, she put her goat on the milking stand, poured some grain in the feeder and started to tug. Nothing. ”Hmmmm,” the woman thought. She tugged and tugged. After 30 minutes and approximately one teaspoon of milk, the woman started to cry. ” Why can’t I milk this freaking goat?!”she yelled to the sky. Then the woman had a brilliant idea! She raced inside her house and rummaged through some old boxes. She ran back out to the impatient goat. Using her old breast pump, the woman was able to extract all the milk from the goat.

And that was my first experience milking a goat. After a horrible first attempt, I used my old breast pump. Worked well, too! Only thing is, I knew I’d eventually have to learn how to milk my goat the right way. Pre-breast pump times.

“After a horrible first attempt, I used my old breast pump. Worked well, too! Only thing is, I knew I’d eventually have to learn how to milk my goat the right way.”

When I first became interested in owning and milking a goat or two, I had no idea how it all worked. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to live on a farm.

Happiness, to me, is waking up to a rooster crowing and spending my morning milking a goat, gathering fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs for a delicious farm fresh breakfast. Over the years, I have become a sort of expert on the subject of milking goats.

Now it’s my turn to share my knowledge with you, and maybe you’ll have an easier start with milking goats than I did.

How to Milk a Goat:
          A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Step 1. Grab the teat with one hand, positioning the teat between your thumb and forefinger. Be sure to grab high, approximately two inches above the start of the teat into the udder.

Step 2. Pinch the teat with only your thumb and forefinger. The teat should swell up with milk.

Step 3. Now, here’s the hard part. While maintaining a firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger, bring your other fingers on the same hand around and push the teat toward your palm. You should see a steady stream of milk squirt out of the teat as the teat is squeezed between your palm and third, fourth and fifth fingers.

Step 4. When you reach the end of  milking and it seems as if your doe doesn’t have any more milk, now is the time to lightly punch on her udder with your fist, just like her baby goats would do. This helps her body let down any last bits of milk.

Step 5. You are finished milking when the udder has a “wrinkled” look.

Congratulations! You’ve just milked your very first goat!

Caution: Be sure NOT to tug or pull on the teat. This is a guaranteed way to make your goat kick.

If you can’t produce a stream of milk, make sure that you are maintaining a firm pinch between your thumb and forefinger. You must trap the milk first and then squeeze it out with your other fingers.

DaNelle is the creator of the blog Weed ‘em & Reap, and author of the book, Have Your Cake & Lose Weight Too. DaNelle, along with her husband and children, raise goats, sheep, and chickens on their urban farm. DaNelle writes about the reversal of disease, weight loss through real food, common food diet myths and her funny farm experiences and gardening adventures.

MILKING TIPS FOR THE NOVICE GOAT OWNER

Does your goat milk taste musky or off-flavored? Many factors can determine the taste of your goat’s milk and it’s important that you are doing all you can to produce milk that is sweet and fresh.

Filtering and refrigerating the milk as soon as possible after milking will help the milk stay sweeter, longer. Goat’s milk has a lot of active enzymes that multiply rapidly at room temperature, and the longer it sits out, the faster your milk will develop “off flavors.”

Make sure that the temperature dial of your fridge hasn’t been accidentally turned up. The ideal temperature to store raw milk is between 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit.

CAN GOAT’S MILK SUPPLY ALL OF YOUR DAIRY NEEDS?

Goat’s milk has been consumed for thousands of years, and in recent years, goats are making a strong comeback. New owners are falling in love with their goat’s affectionate demeanor, quirky personalities and, of course, their delicious milk. But can goat’s milk supply all of your dairy needs?

Goat’s milk is naturally homogenized, which means the cream doesn’t separate from the milk. This means no cream collection, and therefore, no butter. While there are expensive cream separators on the market, the everyday homesteader isn’t likely to purchase one. What can a goat owner do? Well, the goat owner can appreciate all the other wonderful concoctions that come from goat’s milk like yogurt, kefir, hard and soft cheeses and ice “cream.”

DAIRY NEEDS? DO YOU SAVE MORE OR LESS?

The cost to care for one goat is about $15-$20 per month. If your goat is producing an average of 15 gallons per month, then the cost for your milk will be $1.00-$1.30/gallon. Not too shabby. However, the one rule of homesteading is that there are no rules.

Your goat’s milk production can go up and down and isn’t always a sure thing. Also, some seasons you’ll have more offspring to sell, and some seasons you notice the price of feed increasing.

The good news is, your costs will typically be much lower than what you could purchase these products at the store and you’ll always have security in knowing that you’re providing nutritious milk for your family.

PREPARING FOR KIDDING SEASON

Spring is just around the corner! As a goat owner, this also means that your homestead will soon be filled with adorable and energetic baby goats! What can you do to prepare?

Before your doe is ready to kid, make sure she is in a stress-free environment. This means you may need to separate her from the herd. Also, it’s a good idea to boost her mineral consumption and protein intake.

Increasing her feed with calcium and protein-rich alfalfa hay will help give her body the boost she needs to have an easy delivery. Also, make sure to have all your supplies ready. You’ll need lots of clean towels, disposable gloves and a fresh bed of straw.

BEAT FLY SEASON

Keep pesky flies away with an all-natural alternative.

Any homesteader knows too well the annoyance of fly season. Keeping your fly population down will help tremendously during milking time. From fly sprays to fly traps, homesteaders everywhere are willing to try anything to get rid of those flies! This year, try an all-natural recipe. It’s non-toxic, easy on your wallet, and most importantly, it works!

Simply mix one quart of apple cider vinegar with 1 teaspoon of citronella essential oil and 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus essential oil. Spray on your animals before milking to keep the flies away.