Last year, we brought home three darling doelings. I said darling at the time but that would soon change. One goat was awesome. The other two were brats. All three were supposed to be bred, so we were looking forward to welcoming kids in the Spring. All three put on weight. None of them produced offspring. It was a serious letdown.
The woman whom we had purchased the goats from kept in touch and stopped by to check and see if we had any kids at the appropriate time. She was as disappointed as we, and very apologetic. She offered to take two of our girls back to her farm for a date with one of her bucks. In return, she brought us a nanny who’s twins had just been weaned. It was a win for us. A goat to milk while ours were off getting busy. Our smallest doe stayed home to keep the new goat company and plans are to send her over to the farm in the Fall.
Meet Blueberry. Our dairy goat on loan.
Now let me be clear. I had never milked a goat. I had witnessed goats and cows being milked and I vaugely remember trying my hand at milking a dairy cow but maybe I was drinking and just imagined it. But, I had read about the technique and was positive I could handle it. Like anything else, if I read about it, in my mind I am an instant expert.
Being without a proper stanchion at the time, my goat farmer friend assured me I could most likely tie Blueberry off to a post on the back porch and milk her without too much trouble. This didn’t work. For a few reasons: Blueberry was missing her kids, our porch is out of sight of the goat pen and her new friend Milkle, there was no way to keep her still, and I was a completely inexperienced milker.
Our first session didn’t go well. She danced around the pole like she was looking for tips. She kicked at the bucket and then at me. I got maybe a half a cup off of her. The next time, I got a bit smarter. I tied her off to the outside of the goat pen. Now she was unable to move sideways, just forward and backward. It went a bit better, except for all the hay and other debris that made it into the bucket when she lunged forward and stepped in the milk. It’s a good thing we weren’t keeping the milk from the first week. A few more comical milkings and we worked out a routine.
After she had been here about a week (and we had really struck up a friendship) disaster struck. The gate to the pen was not latched correctly after a certain child went down for a visit. It wasn’t noticed until the goats were long gone. From six pm to eight pm, I combed the woods, shaking a bucket and calling for them. I lost the loaner goat! At this point I was pretty much beside myself.
The next morning the kids and I loaded up and posted flyers. We visited our neighbors asking for signs of marauding goats. We called the radio station and the sheriff. We got a tip at one house. The gentleman had seen them yesterday evening in his pasture with his cattle. We spent another two hours on foot on his property fighting our way thru brush and briars with no luck.
I had pretty much given up hope.
The goats went missing on Tuesday afternoon.
Friday afternoon I got a phone call from a woman who knew where they were. An hour later, I had them home.
Thankfully and miraculously, Blueberry had not dried up. After missing six milkings she still had a full bag. Her production decreased in the next few days, but has since picked back up. We have this milking business down pat now.
Blueberry will evidently be put up for sale this Fall after she returns to the farm and is bred. In the meantime, should her and I become really close I might have to consider making her a permanent addition to The Tiny Farm.