The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Milking time

Goat kids at play

Although I milked Artemesia for the kids' first two weeks of life, the youngsters quickly grew big enough to take up that slack. Luckily, two weeks of age is also when goatlings are old enough to be locked away for the night, giving the human twelve hours of free milk.

The trouble, as Mark alluded to, was that our kidding stall is not impossible for a determined goat to access. The first night I locked the kids in, I heard distressed crying for about ten minutes...then everything went ominously quiet. Sure enough, when I went up to check on the herd, Artemesia had jumped over the wall to be with her babies. So I opened the gate and put on my thinking cap for a solution.

Milking a goat

We could have bulked up the walls and done our best to keep momma goat out. But I don't like Artemesia to be in distress, and barely being able to see her kids through the lattice gate was clearly too scary for her to handle.

Enter the dog kennel shown here. It worked perfectly --- the twins were a little pissed at not being able to get into mischief overnight, but Artemesia could lie down right beside them and everyone was happy. In fact, our doe gets so relaxed after not having kids crawling all over her for twelve hours, that by day three I stopped locking her head in the stanchion during milking time. With carrots in the hopper, Artemesia's quite content to stand still and let the machine pull out her milk.

Goats nursing

The kids are always anxious to get their breakfast, but they wait semi-patiently until it's their turn. Rather than hand-milking out the last cup or so, I just release the barbarians and they stampede for the udder. Then I take my two or three cups home with a smile --- happy goats make for a happy human!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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