Monday, March 15, 2010

Milking Goats

My partner Jen and I live on a small farm in Indiana. This very true story happened on our farm a couple of years ago. 

We have lots of animals, and have had goats most of the time we’ve been together.  Right now we have all pygmy goats, but we have had a few dairy goats from time to time.  When the goats (the dairy goats in particular) have their babies, even though the kids nurse at every opportunity, the Momma goats often have so much milk they can get into trouble with a milk engorged udder.   I am a very “back to nature” kind of person. I don’t like to waste anything, and l prefer to make natural products for my own use.  I decided I wanted to try to make goat’s milk soap and lotion (I had used commercial ones and loved them).  Well to do that I needed goat’s milk... no problem says I… I’ve got a bunch of that just needing to be used! 

We had one goat in particular, Cocoa, who ended up needing milked down every single day. She gave birth to twins and lost one of them right away.  Goat kids are funny they take preference to a certain side and will ignore the other side no matter how much milk it has to offer. We had been milking Cocoa down every night and just giving the milk to the horde of barn cats.  The cats had been getting increasingly insistent on getting their nightly goat milk.  So much so that they would walk up to Cocoa and hiss at her as if to say “give it UP biotch!”  More often than not, Jen would do the milking, she was raised on a farm, and I’m relatively new to the endeavor… though I feel I was born in the wrong place and just took a while to find my way “home.”  Anyhow… when we were just milking for the cats, we’d just let it pool on the floor and then move the goat a few times while the cats were cleaning up.

Well my first attempt of milking to KEEP the milk was quite an adventure. I headed to the barn; Jen calls “you want some help?”  “No, I got it” I reply.  I go out all ready, bucket in hand and tie up the goat.  She was getting rather sore down there by this point and not a big fan of this whole process.  I always wore bibs to the barn in those days, you know the kind, with a million pockets, and such, and handy dandy hammer-hanging strap.  I got the cantankerous goat tied up (a half-assed tie job at best), pushed her against the side of the pen, kind of pinning her in place like I’d seen Jen do flawlessly countless times.  This was so the goat couldn’t get away from me (rriiiggghhhttt). I positioned the bucket where it needed to be and got started.  As SOON as the cats heard the milk hit the bucket they descend upon me… remember the movie Willard when the rats swarm all over the guy... envision that - but with cats!  I had cats trying to get into the bucket, up ON my back (cause I’m bent over... right?), under the goat, around my legs. Then the big tomcat who NEEDED his milk RIGHT NOW, figured out that it is the goat that gives the milk, so he pounced on her back, and dug in his claws (or so I presume... it all happened so fast!) Cocoa reared up kicked the milk bucket over… spilling what milk I had managed to collect onto the floor making a very attractive pool of milk to which every cat in the universe made a beeline.  As Cocoa reared up one of her horns caught the hammer strap on the leg of my bibs and I was suddenly on one leg!  The foot that by some miracle had remained on the ground, slipped in the milk and I executed acrobatics never before seen or performed by humankind!  The soundtrack to this whole routine consisted of the terrified cries of Cocoa the goat, and the hissing and screeching of a dozen or so cats that STILL wanted their damned milk!  I landed on my ass in the milk puddle with one leg up over the goat screaming “son of a BITCH” as the cats scatter. Cocoa’s horn was still tangled in the hammer strap.  Cocoa was scared to death…. I have no idea why, she about got her head twisted off by my entanglement and subsequent fall… she got cat scratched, screamed at and run over by a hoarde of milk crazed cats.  What’s the problem Cocoa, a little jumpy?   I counted to ten… slowly… gently disentangled myself from the poor goat, talking soothingly to her for fear she will get all freaked out again and take me with her as she goes hell-bent through the barn... as my half-assed tie job didn’t hold worth a damn.  I hobbled to the house, when I finally got there, my Jen looked up at me and asked “where’s the milk?”  My reply, “don’t ask!”

1 comment:

  1. Awww, poor Cocoa.

    And, yeah, barn cats ARE heartless!