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The Battle of Wills

I’ve been milking goats since October when I purchased Wind Storm (aka Monet). Wind Storm was an ff (first freshener), meaning she had her first kidding season. First timers usually have a much smaller amount of milk. In Wind Storm’s case, I was getting just enough milk for my morning coffee and oatmeal, but I was still forced to purchase milk from the store.

In March, Lucy had her 2nd kidding (2f), but she was not milked as an ff by her previous owners so I knew she would need some training. We started practice about 2 months prior to the big day. And as anticipated, she really needed it. Getting any goat on the milk stand is the easy part (except for Daisy who is a bit backwards and likes to run around the stand and eat from behind). Lucy’s practice included me washing her udder and teats and basically getting her used to my hands. She was quite jumpy at first. Goats are funny. Their back end might be jumpy and kicky, and difficult to manage, but so long as there is food in the bucket, so is their face. It took several weeks of working with Lucy before she stopped jumping at my touch. But those practice sessions gave me great opportunities to feel her belly, and the babies kicking inside. The first few days she kicked a little bit but now she is a dream during milking and just stands calmly until I’m done. And she gives a full quart so no more store bought milk for me!

Cocoa Puff, who kidded three weeks after Lucy is a 3f, and has experience being both hand and machine milked, according to the farm I purchased her from. A few weeks before she kidded I put her on the stand for some practice and she was a dream. She stood so still I thought ‘this is going to be a breeze!’.

I have never been more wrong about anything in my life.

Because Cocoa Puff had triplets, all of her milk goes to them, and there is not much left for me. It’s typical to begin separating babies at night at about two weeks old because at that time they are beginning to eat hay and grain, and it’s how you can increase production so there is enough for babies and you – sort of like supply and demand. It’s not stealing milk from the babies, because she’s going to produce more to feed them. The babies were basically sucking her dry and the runt is so much smaller than the other two, so he gets a bottle in the evenings to make sure he’s getting enough to eat (thanks to Lucy). I waited until Cocoa Puff’s babies were three weeks old before I separated them for morning milking, and that was about four days ago. Milking Cocoa Puff has been such a circus I’ve been chronicling it.

Day 1:

Cocoa Puff’s teats are so small I can hardly hold on through all the kicking. I feel like I’m milking the tip of a pencil. I tried holding one leg up (as I had successfully done in the past when Wind Storm and Lucy would kick) while milking with my free hand, but that only made it worse. She decided if I was going to hold her leg up, she would just lay down. In the end, I had my right hand holding up a leg, my left shoulder and arm holding up a body (that weighs at least 60 lbs!), and I never stopped milking with my left hand. With all the chaos, she managed to kick mud in the bucket so the dogs got that milk, but I'm going to try again in the morning. It's pointless to try in the evenings as the kids are drinking her dry.

Day 2:

'I'm going to be late for work Because you are such a Jerk.... Keep being a total ‘B’.... Because....... You will not win this fight, If it takes me the rest of my life!' You can sing this in country and opera. I'm still working on the hip hop version, but at this rate I have plenty of time. I may even add another verse.

This is what I was singing this morning while milking. By the time we were done, I was sweating and she was panting, but I'm not giving up.

There are pieces of equipment to help with difficult milkers, hobbles, for instance, purchased from a goat supply store (a belt that holds both legs still – supposed to hold both legs still, anyway), but she kicks those off in seconds, and I put them in the bucket of big fat fails. The suggestions from experienced milkers on how they handled difficult goats, and their methods weren’t Cocoa Puff proof either.

It's down to a battle of wills, and I just need to win.

Even though I had milk everywhere, I just kept singing and milking. At one point I was milking straight onto the stand and I didn't even care. All the while she was glaring at me with hatred in her eyes.

I made another verse:

'You can stare at me with pure hate, But no worries because I can relate!'

Now I'm ready for our pm wresting match.

Day 2 pm:

Cocoa Puff didn't fight me with tonight's milking, probably because she knew the babies had sucked her dry and I only got about a TBS out of her. I praised and scratched her for being good. My singing will most certainly commence in the morning. And I am ready.

Day 3:

Well this morning's milking was a breeze. But that is probably because the kids slipped through the door and drained her dry while I was milking Lucy. FML

Day 4:

Never let down your guard! I was so prepared this morning. Cocoa Puff did so great yesterday in the am and pm milkings and I got about 2 TBS without a hitch! That's all the babies left me. We reinforced the kid stall so no one escaped and sucked her dry before I could milk her this morning.

It's raining today and for some reason Lucy, who never has a problem getting milked just wasn't ready yet and Cocoa Puff ran in first. With udder confidence (see what I did there?), but some hesitation I began the process. I was prepared with an extra pint jar so I could pour out any milk I magically managed to accumulate before she could kick my bucket. And it was totally out of her reach! I had about 1/2 pint in that jar and a good amount of milk in my bucket when Cocoa Puff ran out of grain at the very same time the babies decided to scream. Before I even realized her food was out, pandemonium had broken loose. My bucket flew. My precious jar that only moments before had put a smile on my face and warmth in my soul was rolling across the floor and milk was pouring out. The peace that was there was suddenly replaced with her screaming like I was skinning her alive. Through it all, I just held her teats as if they were handlebars and my life depended on them. Once she calmed I promptly evicted her from the room, and headed to the house to clean my bucket for Lucy, feeling completely defeated.

After I finished up with Lucy I decided I would give Cocoa Puff another try. She had been watching me milk and I explained to her that is how a nice milker acted, not like the circus monkey she was. I knew I hadn't milked her out and I thought I might get just enough to taste. Back on the stand with her face in the bucket I sang gently and tried to keep her calm. And it worked. Until I let my guard down again and the small amount of accumulated milk was again kicked and spilled all over the stand.

This battle will continue, because I am determined. Stay tuned.

Day 6:

I did it. I won the battle and I might have had a little skip to my step as I sauntered into the house feeling awesome. When you’re dancing with the devil, sometimes you just have to get creative, and a little bit psychic. In this case it worked. And it helped that the devil has short legs.

Every time I sensed Cocoa Puff was thinking about kicking I held on. I also learned if I held higher up on her udder, I could use my knuckles to apply pressure on the upper part of her thighs preventing her from kicking forward into my bucket. After several attempts she gave up. And resorted to pooping. Totally rude, and totally stinky. Luckily we put our milk stand on an incline and the poops just roll right off.

Check out my well earned pint of Cocoa Puff milk.

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