Sunday, August 24, 2014

Morning Milking Routine

Since G&I left, and left their farm for me and two friends to take care of, my daily rhythms have changed a lot - and all for the better. As usual, I go to bed when it gets dark (this will not work in the winter in Alaska) and rise with the sun. I rarely make it past 10:30 PM, much to the dismay of those who think I'd be better suited to hang out past 8:30 PM.

In turn for my early nights, I get early mornings. I know I've blogged about it before, but I love an early morning. I like feeling like I'm the only one in the world, for a bit, and having solitude and time to meander and feel peaceful.

At 8:00 AM, or so, each morning, I start the goat routine.

G&I have three goats - Stella, Trillium, and Calypso Alpine.
Stella is the mum of Calypso.
Trillium is the goat I milk.

The routine starts by boiling water that will later be used to clean her udder and teats.

Then I head to the garden to pick out some treats for the goats. They get lots of fresh apples, kale, and squash. I feed the goats two main meals a day and then give them a ton (more like 5 gallons) of apples each afternoon. This morning I picked them some squash and grabbed some ground apples.

When they see me gathering the apples, the goats go crazy and MEHHH at me with their little bells ringing as they run to watch the apple action.

With the food ready, I run inside to grab the hot water and the milk bucket I scrubbed the night before and then head over to the milk-house-barn-place. I love G&I's milk house. It was built out of local scrap wood and drift wood. It's open and lets in a lot of light.

Then it's time to give them their breakfast. In addition to the squash, kale, and apples, they also get grain, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, and local hay. Lucky, lucky goats. I guess I'm pretty lucky too because I get to drink the milk.

Trillium gets split up from the group. Her food puts her  in an apparatus that lets me milk her. She must not mind it because she gets up there willingly each day without protest. It certainly makes my job easier.

Then it's time to milk.

I wipe down her udder and teats with hot water and then rub on some local calendula cream. A few test squirts on the the platform clear out any nasty-milk and then shes set to go. I have a seat next to her and find a milking rhythm.

It took me a few weeks to get down the hang of milking Trillium. I liked not being good at something from the get-go. I wasn't horrible, but I definitely needed to work up being able to milk her out.

After she's milked out, I give her a brush, let her go back to the other goats, and move all of her uneaten food to the stall. If there's time, I muck the stall or Kiré does or I do it later in the day. I sweep out the milking area and clean up the platform with a scrub brush and some hot water so it doesn't get smelly. This day, we got about 4 lbs of milk (ahh... a bit too much, actually). There was a lot more milk that we could've milked out (I'm used to around 6 lbs), but we're currently weaning her by milking her less and less each day.

I strain the milk through some cheesecloth, pour some in a mug, and then put the rest in the freezer for a few hours.

And that's that.

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