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Milking the Goats: A Photo Essay on Dairy Goat Care at Milking Time

Joy has been a goat lover and cheese lover for 20 years. She enjoys experimenting with making her own cheeses and dairy products.

Hungry?

This old girl was quietly munching her grain when I surprised her with the camera flash.

This old girl was quietly munching her grain when I surprised her with the camera flash.

My Dear Fellow Goat Lovers

I've taken you into the kitchen and shown you how to make cheeses.

I've shared with you my love of all things goat, and especially stories of my herd matriarch, Morgana.

It's time to show you a bit more of the goat world, and bring you into the milk room. This is a photo essay showing how my father, "Mr. James", goes about his twice-daily milkings with his goat herd.

Each of his goats, whether nice or naughty, sweet or sour, is like a pet to him, and many of them respond in kind. It is difficult for him to get away for any kind of vacation, as his goats prefer his company over anyone else's, and go on strike, even refusing to come into the milk room, if anyone else tries to care for them.

With that in mind, here's the tour.

The Waiting Room

The crowd mills about in the barn aisle, waiting for Mr. James to crack open the door.

The crowd mills about in the barn aisle, waiting for Mr. James to crack open the door.

"Friend" jumps up against the door to take a peek at the pre-milking activity.

"Friend" jumps up against the door to take a peek at the pre-milking activity.

Morgana and others begin their proper line-up. They are definitely creatures of habit.

Morgana and others begin their proper line-up. They are definitely creatures of habit.

The Equipment

Here is the counter where the milker, cream skimmer, and other utensils are kept. The laundry-style sink is great for washing bulky items such as the milker pain, the stock pots in which the milk is refrigerated, and calf-feeding bottles.

Here is the counter where the milker, cream skimmer, and other utensils are kept. The laundry-style sink is great for washing bulky items such as the milker pain, the stock pots in which the milk is refrigerated, and calf-feeding bottles.

Here is the milk stand. The step was originally built for Morgana's Aunt Jingles, as she had trouble jumping up without stepping on hers own teats. Several of the goats continue to appreciate this arrangement.

Here is the milk stand. The step was originally built for Morgana's Aunt Jingles, as she had trouble jumping up without stepping on hers own teats. Several of the goats continue to appreciate this arrangement.

Here is the milker hose and compressor switch. Mr. James prefers not to milk by hand.

Here is the milker hose and compressor switch. Mr. James prefers not to milk by hand.

The Milking Process

Here comes Mr. James with his first sweetie, a half LaMancha, half Nubian girl named Jonie.

Here comes Mr. James with his first sweetie, a half LaMancha, half Nubian girl named Jonie.

Next, "Panzy", who lives up to her name. Mr. James teases her by calling her "Panzilla", perhaps hoping to make her braver. She doesn't use the extra step, but leaps right up.

Next, "Panzy", who lives up to her name. Mr. James teases her by calling her "Panzilla", perhaps hoping to make her braver. She doesn't use the extra step, but leaps right up.

"Where's my grain? I want my grain." Each goat is given a few cups of a corn-oat mix to munch while the are being milked.

"Where's my grain? I want my grain." Each goat is given a few cups of a corn-oat mix to munch while the are being milked.

This is "Too". She is an extremely good milk goat specimen. She and her herdmate "Friend" look similar, and she received her name when Mr. James asked her, "Do you want to be my friend, too?"

This is "Too". She is an extremely good milk goat specimen. She and her herdmate "Friend" look similar, and she received her name when Mr. James asked her, "Do you want to be my friend, too?"

Jonie also has a nice profile.

Jonie also has a nice profile.

Panzy again. I like her horns. I wanted her for my own until I found out what a pansy (coward) she truly is.

Panzy again. I like her horns. I wanted her for my own until I found out what a pansy (coward) she truly is.

Still, she looks so classic, like I imagine the goats in the story of Heidi looked.

Still, she looks so classic, like I imagine the goats in the story of Heidi looked.

Mr. James washes the udders with warm, soapy water . . .

Mr. James washes the udders with warm, soapy water . . .

. . . then attaches the milking machine, which works by gentle, pulsing suction.

. . . then attaches the milking machine, which works by gentle, pulsing suction.

Most of the goats don't mind being milked at all.

Most of the goats don't mind being milked at all.

This goat has a reasonably good udder attachment, something of which not all milk goats can boast. Well attached udders tend to stay healthier.

This goat has a reasonably good udder attachment, something of which not all milk goats can boast. Well attached udders tend to stay healthier.

My daughter "Tyger" likes to pet the goats, and always speaks to them nicely. (That's a bag of popcorn she's holding. They like that, too.)

My daughter "Tyger" likes to pet the goats, and always speaks to them nicely. (That's a bag of popcorn she's holding. They like that, too.)

Time to go out. The exchange can happen very quickly, as there are almost always at least two goats trying to get into the room.

Time to go out. The exchange can happen very quickly, as there are almost always at least two goats trying to get into the room.

Other times, certain goats decide they are not done, and must be "helped" from the room.

Other times, certain goats decide they are not done, and must be "helped" from the room.

My son "Billy" also likes to spend time with the goats.

My son "Billy" also likes to spend time with the goats.

Hugs, Kisses, and Tricks

"Hannah" begging for more grain. I wish you could see her lips twitch and her eyes roll.

"Hannah" begging for more grain. I wish you could see her lips twitch and her eyes roll.

Jonie learns to hug.

Jonie learns to hug.

Several of Mr. James' goats give kisses, too. Be careful--they smell unpleasant. Mr. James tells them, "Just hugs, no kisses."

Several of Mr. James' goats give kisses, too. Be careful--they smell unpleasant. Mr. James tells them, "Just hugs, no kisses."

Sunny Girl

Just because the milking is done doesn't mean chores are over. This is "Sunny", Billy's young doe.

Just because the milking is done doesn't mean chores are over. This is "Sunny", Billy's young doe.

She is practicing to be a grown-up doe, and may one day be a fine milker.

She is practicing to be a grown-up doe, and may one day be a fine milker.

She is related to the oldest doe, Morgana . . . and acts it, too. She appreciates the finer things in life, like playing hide'n'seek with spilled oats, and having the run of the milk room.

She is related to the oldest doe, Morgana . . . and acts it, too. She appreciates the finer things in life, like playing hide'n'seek with spilled oats, and having the run of the milk room.

Spoiled, that's what she is. And proud of it.

Spoiled, that's what she is. And proud of it.

Feeding the Babies

If there are baby goats, they, too, must be fed. This one is big enough to have graduated from a hand-held bottle to a bucket fixed with nipples and flexible tubes which extend into a container of milk.

If there are baby goats, they, too, must be fed. This one is big enough to have graduated from a hand-held bottle to a bucket fixed with nipples and flexible tubes which extend into a container of milk.

The Matriarch Herself

This is my old girl, Morgana, in November 2009. She wasn't milking, but came in each day for grain rations.

This is my old girl, Morgana, in November 2009. She wasn't milking, but came in each day for grain rations.

Processing the Milk

Mr. James pours the milk from the milker pail into a 2-gallon stock pot, using a filter and strainer.

Mr. James pours the milk from the milker pail into a 2-gallon stock pot, using a filter and strainer.

He likes to get the pots full enough for most of the cream to stick to the lids, as this simplifies skimming the milk.

He likes to get the pots full enough for most of the cream to stick to the lids, as this simplifies skimming the milk.

Time to do dishes. The spray-nozzle is rigged straight to the hot water supply, and powers the dishes clean with very little effort. Mr. James often adds a bit of bleach or other sanitizer to the water.

Time to do dishes. The spray-nozzle is rigged straight to the hot water supply, and powers the dishes clean with very little effort. Mr. James often adds a bit of bleach or other sanitizer to the water.

A stainless steel drainboard, where Mr. James can organize and store his equipment, is a very convenient thing.

A stainless steel drainboard, where Mr. James can organize and store his equipment, is a very convenient thing.

Milking Times--How Long Does It Take to Milk a Goat?

That's it. At the time these pictures were taken in the fall of 2009, Mr. James had several does milking. The whole process could take well over an hour.

On average, each doe takes about five minutes to actually milk out with a machine. Hand milking can take longer--say, 7 to 15 minutes per doe, depending on udder conformation and the personality of the goat: how skittish is she?

Having goats has turned into a labor of love for Mr. James . . . as it does for many goat owners. Goats are a bit like dogs in their personalities, and usually like the humans in their lives very much.

You get more than milk from a dairy goat . . . you get love and laughs, too.

Love Goats?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Joilene Rasmussen

Comments

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on September 26, 2013:

Angela,

Thanks for the goodwill, and it's great to meet a fellow goat lover!

Angela on September 24, 2013:

Love your site! And I too, love my goats for milk and cheese!

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on December 21, 2010:

Nicomp,

You're very welcome.

nicomp really from Ohio, USA on December 21, 2010:

Wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing with us.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on June 04, 2010:

I'll pass on those regards, DeGreek. :-)

De Greek from UK on June 02, 2010:

My regards to Mr. James :-D

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on May 17, 2010:

Garnet, thank you for stopping by! I'm so sorry to hear you're allergic to goats' milk. Glad you liked silly old Hannah.

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on May 17, 2010:

These photos are wonderful--I have always liked goats and really wish I wasn't allergic to goat's milk (and to milk too)I especially love the one of Hannah peeking out. Great HUB!

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on April 22, 2010:

Lady Guinevere,

I agree, goats are funny creatures. :-D

Debra Allen from West By God on April 22, 2010:

Iused to have goats, a mom and her son. I milked her myself and she loved it after we had a talking and she undertood me. Her name was Claire and she was special and honery. She would play games with us. She would wait until we were all in the car and then some how jump the fence and we would have to get her and put her back in and tell her that we promise that we would be right back. That was whenwe moved her to the back of the yard in a bigger space and she couldn't see us get into the car to go somewhere.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on April 22, 2010:

Skye,

I love being able to share this kind of life. I'm pleased to meet you.

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on April 19, 2010:

Hello Joy at Home, I never knew a farm man, so this will be fun to follow. Your children growing up in this atmosphere is such a Blessing. I love your photos Joy at Home.

Many Blessings

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on March 27, 2010:

Bonny,

Your comment brightened my day. I'm glad you liked the hub.

bonetta hartig from outback queensland on March 25, 2010:

another great hub, really enjoyed this love the way you write your hubs - just so natural and full of care and love for what you write about - thank you

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on March 10, 2010:

Ivorwen,

Actually, goats are notoriously picky eaters. They just eat different things than most domestic herbivores. They will often pass up lush grass in favor of dry tumbleweeds. They are browsers, and will strip trees as high as they can reach standing on their back legs. It is true that they sometimes aquire tastes for unusual items, like paper towels, and they will chew on clothes. "Jingles" used to refuse to leave the milk room until she'd had a paper towel. :-)

It is also true that goats are almost impossible to fence into a specific location. They are great at finding any gap or hole or chink in an enclosure, and can squish down like mice to take advantage of tiny holes. They sometimes get their heads or horns stuck in wire paneling, in attempts to see what's on the other side.

But they are still great to have.

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on March 10, 2010:

Goats are such characters, with so much personality! As a child, I remember trying to talk my parents into getting miniature goats, but my dad said they would just eat everything... I didn't know you could milk goats back then. :D

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