We ( I mean I) had these grand plans of converting a horse trailer we bartered with a friend for, into a milking parlour for the goats. It didn’t happen, and there is a good reason. As I showed Andrew my tentative, totally unskilled building plans for the platform inside the parlour, he said, and I quote ” you know, that trailer is kind of valuable for hauling things. Like what if we need to bring home a cow?”
A cow?!? I’ve been lusting after a milk cow for a while after tasting my first real, raw, grassfed butter from our friends’ Jerseys. I don’t care about the milk, it’s the CREAM to make into butter that I crave. Goats’ milk doesn’t separate into cream and milk, like cows’ milk, because the fat molecules are smaller and sort of naturally homogenized in that way. To get cream to separate from goats’ milk, you need an electric separator- I tried doing it once by letting milk sit for weeks in the fridge, painstakingly skimming the tiny bit of cream that had come to the surface finally. Did the whole shake in a jar method and all I got was frothy milk, no butter. Oh well. But I still dream of cows and butter.
Milking has been a constant in my life for the last 8 years. It’s is crazy to realize it’s been this many years. When it’s milking season, 9 months of the year, I have to decline most social events. Nevermind we’re an hour away and more from most of these engagements, and can’t really afford luxurious random trips into town at $25 per trip in gas money. As I’ve been getting into the swing of milking in the new set up, which is a step up from before, I kind of like the control milking has over my life. I also sometimes loathe it. Mostly if the goats are being particularly cantankerous and causing the ole’ 4 letter words to come flying out of my mouth. When I come back in and avoid eye contact with Andrew, he knows it’s been a tough session. “How’d they milk?” he’ll cautiously whisper. “Not so good,” or “FINE, but I’ve had it” or the infamous “ f*&ing GOATS! ”
I love them, but my dear oh my do they drive me crazzzzzzzzzzzy. Goats embody many things I dislike in some humans. Greedy, jealous, not happy with what they have, bully-ish, mean to each other, not sensible, willey, rash and insane. I don’t ever for a second think a cow would be any different. She’d just be ten times as big of a potential problem, actually. But cows just appear to be so much more docile in their bigness. Maybe a bit less smart? Believe me that’d be just fine. But I also can’t help but look at the math for milk production- goats give so much more milk for their body weight. Another thing goats have going for them is their very tidy pelleted poops, compared to massive cow pies. But it all comes back to grass. They can both live on grass as food. The goats get a little grain at milking, and many cows do as well. It’s their candy, their treat, as well as providing extra calories to fund their milk production. But milk from mostly grass is just an amazing thing. We shall see how this all shakes out.
This morning as I chugged coffee, I admired the sound of 11 roosters hitting puberty. They’ve been trying to cockadoodledoo for a few days now, their hoarse voices managing to croak out half crows. It’s so hilarious, they are now practicing all day long. Urr-uuuuuuur….(clears throat and tries again) Urr urrr uur oooooo!
Life is crazy right now, just the way I like it. Broiler chicks growing at a rapid pace, seedlings turning into jungle plants, greens sprouting in the garden and 100’s of feet of spring crops seeded and sprouting, ducklings morphing into ‘tweens overnight, our duck barn construction has begun, little turkey babies are totally feathered out and nearly at the age where they begin to get their naked heads, rabbit kits being born and more due this week, one more goat due to kid, lettuce and china choy forming heads in the hoophouse, our CSA begins in just a week, eggs-o-rama from the October ducklings and the older ducks, apples blossoming all over the farm, a new herd of chickens for eggs and our foraging meat-bird experiment wandering all over the place, goats being zapped by their newly installed electric fence (yeah!!)
It’s a good, full, exhausting life. We try to remember these first years are the first years….this time in the farm is hard. We have growing pains, but once we get to where we think we are going, it’s going to be magnificent. It already is.