Sunday, January 17, 2010
Milking at home
About a year and a half ago, I got milk goats, again ~ after 14 years without. I could go on and on about the benefits of drinking raw milk, but you can read about that here: http://www.realmilk.com/ Because of eating some contaminated grapes, I had a chronic digestive problem. No matter what I did, it did NO good, and after tests and tests and trying various things, I felt inspired to try raw goat milk. A friend helped me locate some and after drinking just one glass, I could tell that this was the answer. So, my dear husband helped me get this project going. We already had our nice little shed/barn with a room I could use for milking and hay/grain storage, and we had a big fenced pen. We went looking for goats and found these two lovely does. They are American Alpines. The gray/white girl has now been traded for a different doe from her original owner. Here it is January and we are still milking nearly a gallon a day! Both of my does are due to kid in early May, so in March and April I will not milk them. I am so excited, looking forward to the kids and lots of milk so I can make more cheese.
If you live in an area where it would be legal to keep animals, I highly recommend milk goats. They are sweet and personable and just loads of fun, easy to care for, and if you are scrupulous in your milk sanitation, you will have the most lovely, creamy sweet milk you can imagine.
Goats are herd animals and they need a companion, but it need not be a goat. It can be a horse or sheep, or if you have happy children that will play with them every day, that will do, also. Their needs for housing are very simple. A crude shed where they can get out of the wind and have some bedding (like straw) when the weather turns cold, is all you need. If you want to milk and cannot afford more than that, you can put your milking stand right in the shed. It can be nailed together from scrap lumber. You will need to get a milk filter funnel, something like this: http://hoeggergoatsupply.com/xcart/product.php?productid=3344&cat=17&page=1 . These folks also sell a larger more expensive model. And you will need the disposable filter disks. Then if you have a stainless steel bucket or pan with a lid, you are all set. There are many approaches to feeding goats, but here is what I feed mine: A mixed grain ration, good hay and a handful of Calf Manna at each milking. We store our extra hay on some pallets covered with a waterproof tarp, as our shed is small. We like to buy enough hay to last a year at a time. When the weather is fine, I put them on leashes and take them into the woods so they can browse. They really enjoy that. Currently, I have "Abby" and "Gracie." If all goes well, I hope to keep a doe kid to raise this year. I really love my goats.