“What is that smell?” I sniffed the air, then my arms and hands. “It’s me! I smell like a goat!” I grimaced at my rain-soaked shirt drenched in sweat, dirt, feces and goat milk. It was July 4th, and the humidity was rising to fierce levels.
It had been over 20 years since I smelled that combination. It’s a smell that hid in the recesses of my mind once I moved away from the dairy farm as a young adult. Now, with a small herd of goats, the smell engulfed me. My brother Kelly and I spent the morning walking the fence line, cutting tree limbs off the fences that had fallen during the previous night’s storm.
My goat named Faith Hill had just given birth to a buckling the previous week, and he was only nursing on one side.
Goats have an udder with two teats, but the milk is compartmentalized, so if the kid only eats on one side, the udder is lopsided and full. If not milked out, i feared that the goat could develop mastitis (an inflammation and infection of the udder). Without a stanchion to hold the goat, Faith Hill refused to stand still so I could relieve the pressure from her udder. I looked at Kelly and said, “If I grab her, will you hold her while I milk her?” He said, “Sure, why not.”In one quick motion, I grabbed the nanny goat by her horns, and Kelly lifted her on to a crate. He held her, and I milked into a jar. Unlike cows, the goat lifted her hoof, pawed at my arm and knocked my cup of warm milk to the ground. “Crap!” I exclaimed. Kelly said, “Hold her leg.” I said, “eww, it’s wet and covered with dirt!” He laughed and said, “Mamaw used to milk Susie the cow, and it had stuff in it before she strained it.”
I muttered, “How do I know she’s finished?” Kelly replied, “You’ll figure it out.” Sure enough, a few minutes later, the goat’s teat and side of her udder felt flaccid and withered. She was done.
A few weeks later, my friend Joci came to visit the goats, and I realized that Faith’s udder was once again filled, because the buckling was not nursing from both sides. I looked at her and said, “Here, hold my goat.” I grabbed the nanny, and together we lifted her to the crate. I repeated the process of milking that smelly gray and white horned animal. This time, she patiently stood while this stranger held her horns. With her back leg, she scratched my wrist and her own udder… which required a quick spray of Blue-Kote… the same magical spray that I’ve used on myself!
In August, my friend Lisa stopped by for a surprise Sunday visit. When the rainstorm stopped, I looked at my teenaged godson and asked, “Want to hold my goat?” He looked up from his phone and said, “Aunt Janet, I think I’m really tired.”
I laughed, “aw, c’mon, you know you want to hold the goat.”
Finally, we convinced him to go outside and he did hold the goat, for about 30 seconds. Then, Lisa took over and we laughed as 3 goats tried to eat snacks and I milked out another 1/2 quart of milk.
Now, it’s September, and Jim just finished the goat stanchion last week. It’s a daily thing to milk the goat now. Stay tuned for more of the goat milking adventures!
Photos courtesy of Kelly Reep and Jim Morgan.