Learning to milk, part two
I've been wanting to
write about my milking adventures for a while, but I never seem to
manage to bring the camera during my morning chores. Plus, it's dim up
in the starplate coop on cloudy mornings (which seems to be most of them
lately), and our milking routine doesn't go as smoothly when a
cameraman is present. So you'll have to settle for these shots of our
little herd grazing in the woods while I write about milking.
As I've mentioned before, I opted to buy an electric milking machine
because my carpal tunnel syndrome can barely handle the amount of
garden weeding I do --- adding milking on top of that sounded like a
recipe for disaster. Of course, it was an added benefit that the milking
machine does the work for me, making it less problematic that I don't
know how to milk a goat.
I'd had one lesson years ago about how to milk a goat and had read books
on the subject, but I'll be honest --- it's taken me about a month to
finally feel proficient with the process. Since I'd read that it's
actually more hygienic not to
wash the udder, I instead massage that area to stimulate milk letdown,
and I've recently begun to be able to tell by feel whether or not
there's any milk in the teat to squirt out. This is what gave me a tough
time at first --- I was trying to squeeze out milk that wasn't there!
Plus, I was being a little too gentle, imagining what it would feel like
if someone squeezed that sensitive part of my anatomy. Watching Lamb
Chop head butt his mother in the udder, though, reminded me that goats
are more rough and tumble than humans, and Abigail responded well to my
firm but gentle touch.
Six weeks into Abigail's
lactation, we're still only getting about 8 to 10 ounces of milk per
day. This is up a little bit since I started tricking Abigail by milking
out one teat, then the other, then returning to the first for another
round, but Abigail is clearly holding back milk for
her kid. I'm guessing that Lamb Chop is consuming maybe a quart of milk
per day, although he's finally eating a lot more solid food as well and
should be old enough to wean (if Abigail feels like it) in two more
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