Sicily, the white goat in the picture above, is the first goat I ever milked.
Before I could milk a goat, I needed a goat in milk - a doe who has kidded and is still producing milk. My mom and her husband came up to visit last week. They, having NO farm animal experience whatsoever, graciously agreed to pick up these two goats on the way and put them in the back of their car. One of these goats, Sicily, was in milk. I had it all planned out: My parents would pick up the goats at 4:00 in the afternoon and deliver them by sundown. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. . . after a series of unfortunate events, they arrived at 2:00 in the morning. Those poor goats were calm in the car the entire time, but I’m sure they were ready to stretch their legs!
The next morning, because Sicily was in milk she needed, well, milked! My mother was astounded. "How do you know how to milk a goat!?" She, who raised me in a rather typical suburban neighborhood, could not believe it. I gave her the obvious response, "I watched a video online."
First I led Sicily up onto the milk stand and put her head through the headpiece. She promptly took it out. The stand was built by our friends at Serendipity Farms for their Nubian goats and it was too wide for this little Nigerian Dwarf goat’s head. What to do? I walked to the garage and grabbed an extra dog collar and looped that through her collar and then around the milk stand. Now that she was more or less secure, I put some goat food in her bowl so she could eat breakfast while I milked. I sat on an upturned 5 gallon bucket and cleaned her udder. Then, I put a bowl under her and did my best imitation of the technique I had viewed online. And... nothing. No milk. So I tried again, pinching tighter with my thumb and forefinger. After a minute of trying I got a bit out, but it dribbled down my hand. Who knew it was so dang hard to milk a goat!?
Throughout all of this I am wearing my toddler in a backpack-style carrier. To keep her, myself, and the goat calm, I began to sing. And soon, thin steady streams of milk were going into the bowl. I’m doing it! I’m milking a goat! My goat! I couldn’t get the coordination down to use both hands at once, though I did try. I kept switching sides and I found it far easier to use my dominant hand. Go figure, right? I didn’t really think about that kind of thing beforehand, but it makes sense. . .
In the end, I got about one cup of milk. This is the beginning of a very fulfilling part of my day. To milk a goat, I would say, is experiencing joy in liquid form. When I am milking, I feel a connection to all the goatherders and milkmaids that have come before me. Providing this basic, nourishing liquid for my family in such a tangible way, there's nothing else like it. Milking a goat is one of those things that seems rather inconsequential until you try it.