In honor of Rachel’s working-girl Pygmies, I thought I’d write a guest post on how to milk-stand train a goat.
- Goats don’t instantaneously jump up on a milkstand. In fact, while they will happily jump up on a picnic table, bench, vehicle (or pretty much anything you don’t want them to jump on), when you lead them to the milkstand they will likely look up at you with a face that says “I’m unimpressed,” and then add a little judgmental “meh” for good measure.
- If, through much pulling, lifting, and/or cajoling, you do manage to get the goat up onto the milkstand, the goats will not wait patiently while your non-functional newbie milking-fingers fumble around on sensitive areas trying to squeeze milk out of her udder. In fact, she is very likely to give you the goat version of “don’t touch my junk”—a few well-placed kicks, possibly accompanied by some snorting and stomping. (That phrase “kick the bucket”? This is where it came from.)
Milkmaids spend a lot of time looking at, evaluating, and touching udders and teats. We talk about “open orifices,” “pliable skin,” and of course udder and teat size. We are not, in fact, creepy people, but when you’re trying to get milk out of a goat, certain qualities become very important. You want lots of milk, of course, but when you’re hand milking you also want to be able to get that milk out easily, without wrecking your hands in the process. So you want teats that are like supersoakers—a good-sized refill canister (aka good teat size), with a wide nozzle (aka open orifice). It also helps if the supersoaker is easy to fire (pliable skin).
- Would you go up to a woman and grab her boobs without asking? Didn’t think so. Chances are, you’d ask her out to dinner first, and after that, you’d probably make out. Obviously I’m not suggesting you make out with your goat. But do give her dinner: get her on the milk stand and give her grain there a few times before you ever try to touch her udder.
- Remember that teenage boy who thought your boobs were dough that required kneading? Yeah. Thought so. When you first start touching a goat’s udder, don’t go full speed ahead trying to squeeze the milk out of it. First of all, if you’re a first-time milker you don’t know what you’re doing, which is likely to irritate her, so you won’t end up “getting any” after all. Secondly, you’ve never even touched her udder before, and now you think you’re going to get away with milking it? Start off SLOW. Just rest a hand on the udder. If she’s comfortable with that, you can try gently milking one side. If she gets irritated, stop, and gently hang on.
- Which brings me to my next point: don’t be that teenage boy who busted out the condom on the first date when the girl was just planning on making out. In other words, don’t try and put the bucket down too early, because you’re likely to be left high and dry for wanting too much too soon. Just try milking her onto the floor, and clean up the milk afterwards with a rag. (I promise you if you’d had the bucket down, she just would have stepped in it and knocked it over, and then you’d end up with milk in your lap.)
- Just like girls, some goats are easy and some play hard to get. I’ve had goats who did practically jump up on the milk stand and let me milk them all the way out the very first time—but they’re the exception, not the rule. I’ve also had one unbreakable goat who refused to be milked after 2 months of knock-down drag-out fights. Most goats fall somewhere in between, and appreciate being warmed up to milking.
- You may occasionally encounter a wonderful, perfectly trained angel goat who will, every three weeks or so, try to kick the living s*** out of you on the milkstand. Yes, some goats do get PMS, and do not like their udders touched when they’re in heat.