Friends of mine in Oak Grove have owned goats off and on for several years, so I’ve tried goat milk and I enjoy it. After discovering my body struggles to digest cow’s milk I switched to almond milk – which is good, just not the same as animal milk. This – and my roommate’s long desire for goats – is the core reason we added these wily animals to our farm.
So yesterday about 3:40pm our wandering goats returned to the farm. Where they go is impossible to say – they are Nigerian Dwarfs and when they lie down its impossible to see them! Once again they simply walked in the open back gate without a sound. I was working behind the barn at the time, so turning the corner and having three goats stare at me was at once hilarious and astounding. It also meant I’d get to try my hand at milking.
The roommate and I headed to the goat pen that evening – she captured and held Miss Leia in place while I sat on a short bench and took hold of a teat. On the second try a stream of warm, fresh milk hit the pitcher. I felt like I was channeling Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs experiences as I recalled tips and tricks to keep the animal calm and get maximum milk. A simple pull and a gentle pressure on the teat and milk flowed smoothly.
Miss Padme and baby Luke kept coming over to investigate, which naturally made Leia nervous. At one point she kicked the pitcher and we lost about half the milk. Sigh… We’ve downloaded plans for a milking stand and that’s the weekend’s priority project. The device should make it easier on all of us – and get milking to a one person task.
Once the milk was collected and the goats given hay and grain for the evening, it was time to process the milk. It gets strained through a bit of cheesecloth to catch impurities (dust, hair, etc.) then put straight into the fridge. We’re using wide mouth Ball jars to store the milk – lids are marked with days of the week and its easy to see how much we collect in a day thanks to the measurements on the side.
The milk is incredibly rich and so good in my morning bowl of oats. We plan to make multiple products from the milk – cream, butter, cheese, ice cream are just a few. A few minutes work for fresh milk? Yup, that’s well worth my time. I collected just over 1/2 a cup – with about that much lost to the ground. Not bad for a newbie, huh?