Thursday, September 30, 2010

Learning to Milk With Two Stands

When we took Annie to our pasture to spend a month with our buck, Tony built a second milking stand to leave there.  I used it a couple of times before the neighbor asked if they could "foster" the goats for a while and decide if they want to get dairy goats.  Sure!  The 3 of them got a new pasture of grass and I didn't have to go over there daily to milk!  I taught him what I do, bought the feed we want her to have at milking time, and set them up.  In exchange for milking her, they got to keep the milk.

Well, her month is up and the neighbors are leaving town, so the gals came back and so did the extra stand.  It occurred to me this might speed up the milking process.  It was taking me close to an hour total to get the job done, milking 3.  With Annie back it would take even longer, and she gives the most milk.  I've tried it for two days now, and I'm not sure it's really speeding anything up!  It's funny to watch me (I'm guessing) and it's funny to watch the goats' reaction when they see an extra stand.  I don't have any photos to share, but they all want to go to the familiar stand, even when there's already a goat there!

So how does a dairy maiden use two stands?  I start with the first goat and milk her out.  It takes her longer to eat her goodies than it takes me to get the milk, so that's generally the time consumer-waiting for her to finish.  Before bringing the next girl up, I empty and measure the milk from the bucket.  Back out again, I can bring #2 up to the second stand, but #1 is done eating before I've finished with #2, so she starts getting antsy.  At this point, I don't get much from #2, so I finish her fairly quickly and measure her milk before exchanging #1 for #3.  #3 used to be Belle and she HATES being milked.  I've trained her to the point of being able to milk one handed while holding the bucket with the other-makes it easier to get it out of the way before she steps in it-but she still stomps a lot.  However, since Annie has returned, she thinks she should be #1 (used to be) but I wanted her to be last because she smells like a BUCK IN RUT!  I was successful at making her #4 yesterday, but not today.  Are ya with me here, because I've lost track of what I'm doing, hahaha!  Oh yes, so #1 goes back and #3 comes out, rinse, lather, repeat.  I think you get the picture.  It still took me about an hour today, though I have to admit to not noting the time when I started.  Tomorrow I'll make a point of timing it all, starting with soaking the feed.  Maybe it'll be my daily goal to get as much milk in as few minutes as possible and see if I can beat the previous day.

OK, seriously, I think I need a better hobby!  Although, if ice cream and cheese made from Nubian milk is as good as the yogurt, then this is a fabulous hobby!  We need to take the two doelings out of the pen and see if that increases output from the Nubian mamas.  We're going to try putting them in the backyard and see how hard they try to get out.

Oh, and the whole reason I decided to write about this is that today when I brought Belle out, Peaches was on the familiar stand still eating.  Belle ran to it and tried to push Peaches out of the way.  I had to grab her and get her to the second stand before she broke poor Peaches' neck.  In the process I stepped on a small branch on the ground and cut my foot (silly me-I wear flip flops for this job because I don't like lacing up the boots when it's hot out).  It's not that bad, but it's in a spot that makes it hurt with each step.