On the dairy calendar

The subtitle of this post could be My Dairy Year.  (Say that fast and laugh to yourself.)

Today marks my first year as a milkmaid.

Indeed:  a year ago today, T-bell gave birth to three adorable kids, little bucklings all.

Mama T-Bell, lucky thing, gets a year off of breeding this year.  I believe she’s had three sets of kids (twins, twins then triplets with us); she will be six years old in April.  I will continue to milk her as long as I want to:  I should be able to “milk through” as she’s an awesome milk goat.  I feel so fortunate to have had her as a first goat, first milker.  Why?  Because she’s a bitch, that’s why!

Yes, in my first doe, I seem to have selected a definite herd queen.  She’s not really a bitch, you see.  She’s more, well, strong-willed, more particular.  She’s very friendly (a great thing) especially to little people.  The dog is her mortal enemy, although they do love to play.  But other goats?  She lets them know where they stand.  And they stand below her, way below, so…watch out.  And:  she HATES being outside.

But it’s nicer in here!  Bell, eating her bon-bons and watching the world go by

Learning to milk a goat and then learning to milk THIS goat was a bit of a challenge.  She’s smart, see.  If she’s not in the mood, you better guard that bucket.  If her feed bowl (the bribe which ensures her getting onto, and staying on, the milk stand) is less than filled, you’ll hear about it.  Milking is an intimate relationship forged between she with the milk and you with the desire for it:  really, it must be so, or the let-down (milk release) won’t happen.  And indeed learning to milk with those three rambunctious kids just inches away was terribly stressful at first, especially since one of the babies was expecting the milk himself (he was a bottle baby).  But we forded that whirling river.  She’s quite happy now, our routine is well set.  And starting the thirteenth month of her lactation, I am still getting nearly three quarts of milk from her a day.

On the Sunday after Christmas Tom and I coaxed our little Alpine doeling into the back of my small hatchback.  She was off, you see, to visit her new boyfriend, a handsome, smelly fellow named Moses.

The aptly-named Cricket:  Gotta love a youngster’s airborne enthusiasm.

Cricket is an adorable creature.   Curious, hippity-skippity, not super friendly but not skittish, the one thing she is is LOUD.  I made sure I brought earplugs (seriously) for the 60-mile round trip to the goat farm east of us where she was be bred.  It does seem strange, and kind of bad-mother-ish*, but yes, you can breed goats when they’re less than a year old.  She’ll continue to grow, and I only need to watch her feed to ensure she’s eating enough for two or three or (eeps!) four.  And let’s state the obvious here:  you want milk, you need babies.

So, yes.  Cricket will have her kids at the end of May, with luck.  It’s a different kind of calendar, the dairy one.  Bell will still be milking when Cricket throws her babies.  There will be two goats using the milk stand in the morning:  whee!  Say cheese!

*Indeed, though, it’s like I am condoning teenage motherhood; I guess I should state that she’ll technically be a yearling when she delivers.  Not a teenager, then, but definitely a young mom…!

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7 responses to “On the dairy calendar

  1. Those kids are adorable. What do you do with bucks?

    • I had them neutered/dehorned then traded all three of them for Cricket! Three boys equal a girl in the goat world. 🙂

      Oh but to answer your question more specifically, Daedre, they got eaten.

  2. It took me a minute to get your joke but then I did laugh. I think it’s pretty neat that you have goat girls.

    Have you heard of the Henry milker? Might make things easier and cleaner.

    http://www.henrymilker.com/

  3. Love the picture of Cricket. Did she come with that name, or did you give it to her? I dream of one day having goats, but much work would need to be done here before we’d be ready for them, not least of all negotiating the zoning regs in our township.

  4. i love hearing about your goats! living vicariously and all that. we were just at mattawan artisan creamery today, helping out with kidding. didn’t see any actual births this time, but my girls and i got to feed eight bouncing babies, including one preemie (4 lbs. at birth) and one giant (11 lbs. at birth!).

    one of these years, i’ll quit being lazy and get myself those goats i’m longing for. it’s the daily milking that’s holding me back thus far.

  5. Daedre, hope that answered your question. We were fortunate enough to make a trade.

    Paula, thanks for the milk machine link. Nice and small. I’ll probably always milk by hand, it’s a lot faster than washing out a machine. However if I had 3 goats or more, a machine might be the way to go, especially something low-tech like that.

    Hiya Kate. Cricket was the name our daughter came up with. Well, for sheer volume of poop alone, they’re worth their weight in gold I think. Seriously. You know how I bitch about my crappy clay soils. I can’t complain any more with the volume of compost I am now able to make. You know, they’re a lot of fun. Those little ones might work for a lot size like yours, and there are plenty of folks who blog about owning little goats so if you ever do get through the flaming-hoop process of getting that law changed, that might be the way to go.

    Serina! Okay, here we go: do you know how long it takes me to milk and filter and clean up every morning? A half hour. It’s MY half hour, sacrosanct, me and the goats and the bucket and the radio. What I find takes me more time is what to do with the milk. So chevre once a week (about an hour of active time), yogurt once a week (same), kefir (10 minutes) and one wild labor-intensive cheese (1-3 hours) and there you go, that becomes a lot of time per week. HOWEVER, it’s time well spent. You’ve got lots of mouths to feed, and I know they’ll probably love cheese, so I hope you can rent some goats from Anne sometime. That would be great.

  6. Cricket is adorable, what a great shot!

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