It’s no secret that we don’t always follow conventional farming methods. Some of the things that go on around here though, are a little more unorthodox than others.
With that in mind, I thought a little peek into our latest milking routine might be in order.
For a few months this Spring, the goats, along with the milk stand, were near the house making chore time really convenient, and giving us the ability to have the milk chilling within two minutes of being milked. But since we graze rotationally, the milking set up moves periodically, and right now, it’s at it’s furthest from the house necessitating some sort of transportation back and forth – walking just takes too long when there’s raw milk involved.
Enter the bicycle! Yes, a bicycle. it’s not as difficult to ride through pastures as you might think, plus, it doesn’t hog gas like the ATV does. Getting everything out there can be challenging though. Keep in mind, in the far reaches of the pasture, there is no running water or electricity – all of the supplies must come and go with the milker. Fortunately, after a few days of trial and error, we’ve come up with a workable method.
Even if we can’t get the milk chilled right away, we can still filter it. In the backpack you can see a gallon jar with a filter stuffed inside. Beside it is a zip-top bag full of feed. This is what I do when Garrett’s with me and I can’t use the bike’s baby seat for the feed can. Also in the backpack is my phone in case something goes wrong – like all the goats get in the milk shed and I can’t get them out. and things like baby wipes for washing dirty teats.
Once we get out to the milk stand, everything comes out of the backpack. The blue feed-trough stays with the stand, so all I have to do is fill it up. Cinnamon gets milked first – she’s currently only giving a few ounces per milking thanks to her nursing kid.
Then the milk goes into the jar through the filter.
The shed we’re currently using as a milking stall was used for hay storage all winter, so that’s loose hay you’re seeing in the background.
As a side note, we found a much cheaper alfalfa pellet supply recently. I’m not impressed with it though. It’s really powdery, which the goats don’t seem to mind, but it takes them forever to eat, which I don’t like because I need to get out of there ASAP to get my milk chilled. Also, there seems to be a handful of corn kernels in each bag. No big deal I guess.
So after Cinnamon’s done, the real milker comes on board (no offense to Cinnamon, but she could be giving more).
As another aside, Sage did something she’s never, ever done before. She spilled the milk.
Usually she doesn’t step at all. But something spooked her. It could have been a horsefly that I didn’t see, but I suspect she caught sight of Garrett’s antics out of the corner of her eye. I had just started milking her when I looked up to see Garrett about 25 yards away, walk up behind Vanilla, one of our dry does, and try to milk her. Vanilla apparently didn’t know he was back there and spooked. That was when Sage spooked. I didn’t have her tied up, and she jumped all the way off the milk stand spilling what little milk was in the bucket. After looking around for a minute, she jumped back up on the stand and continued eating like nothing had happened. That was our excitement for the evening, and I don’t think Garrett will try to milk Vanilla again.
After I let Sage out of the shed, I put the leftover feed back in the zip-top bag, and put it, and the milk jar in my backpack for the ride home.
When Garrett’s not with me, I actually carry the feed in a coffee can in the baby seat. On the way home, I also put the milk pail in the baby seat since it’s already dirty, because it’s easier to ride without my hands full, especially when we have to open and close hot-wire cattle fences on the way.
After we get home, the milk gets transferred to a half gallon jar, plus a smaller one depending on how much there was, and everything gets washed and sterilized.
And that my friends, is our somewhat complicated, never boring, but sometimes tedious milking routine – for now.
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