Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life is good in the Barn.

Just did our first milking in the new barn. While the old setup worked pretty well, this is so much nicer. No more hunching over so I don't get a nail in the scalp or break a lightbulb with my head.

The only thing the old had that the new is missing is the double gates. But with the goats learning the routine, I don't see that as too much of a problem.

Twice this morning I forgot to put grain in the feed buckets before letting the next pair of goats in. As soon as they saw the bucket empty they jumped off the stands and started wandering all around and it took a few minutes to get them back up on the stands. I must remember to put the grain in each time BEFORE letting the goats in to milk. I found that if they don't jump up on the stands by themselves, if I grab their collar and lead them to the back of the stand, they would jump up by themselves. I had to do this a couple times with each goat before they realized what I was expecting them to do. I stand by the side of the goat stand so they can't sidle around and only put their front legs up in order to reach the grain. Since the stands are now raised up higher, and they don't really have a way to get around to the front, if they want the grain, they have to jump up. Most of them were pretty good about jumping up, but when I forgot the grain and they got back down, they didn't go up so nicely the second time.

Last night Lisa dropped off the bucket and most of the hoses were disconnected. I didn't think much of it until this morning when I was rinsing it out and realized that disconnecting all the milk hoses makes cleaning it so much easier. I don't know why I didn't do that before. But more to the point, Lisa, once you realized it, why didn't you let the rest of us know? So now when cleaning, we just disconnect the milk hoses from the lid and wash the lid. Then when we start cleaning the hoses (which are the real hassle) we don't worry about getting the blue pulsator all wet. We've left the air hoses still connected, but being able to put the lid off to the side while doing the hoses is much easier. Maybe tonight I'll try removing the air hoses as well. Not sure how much of a hassle that will be putting them on and off.

With all the space in the barn, I'm all for setting up a cleaning system right there. If we get some bucket heaters, we can start the water warming when we start milking and by the time the goats are done, it should be hot enough to clean the bucket. The first time I cleaned the bucket I did it that way; put a bunch of hot water in a bucket and let it suck through the hoses. It went through a 2 gallon bucket in seconds. We can run a cleaning cycle a few times and then rinse it the same way. Seems to me that it will make it much easier. It will also relieve us from having to drop the bucket off to the next person each time. Not that doing that is a problem, but it would be another step we could eliminate in all this. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Better set location

We are able to start milking in and using the barn, this is a much better setup, also if you need a big bunch of dried manure for your gardens or whatever else let me know we have access to a bunch of it, it is actually straw/manure compost. We also have alfalfa hay in the barn and this should be much better than what we had been using before, I believe that is why the production dropped off so much just bad grass hay. Now when we milk we just need to use one silver can scoop of grain per goat per milking and we will adjust it later if we need to. I don't see any post besides Marc and Diane, come on people you need to post your experiences even (and especially for the rest of us) if they are not the best most special positive experiences. I know how much Marc likes to spend time playing with the goats while he is milking, I am kinda surprised you want to get done so fast, I mean you like to run and chase them and then hug them, that's what it looks like anyway.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Setting a Record

This morning we got all done in about 45 minutes. That is a new record for us! I'm not too sure if we'll be able to drop that time very much, things went pretty smoothly. One thing that did help was that the goats are learning to get up on the stands all the way by themselves. I only had to lift up 1 of them today. The last two we did ran in, jumped up, and stuck their heads in to start eating. It was almost like they were synchronized swimmers. I'm hoping that all of them will be able to do that soon. They are almost there.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Getting the Rhythm

This morning we did another milking. This machine makes it so much easier and faster. From door to door it was just under 1 hour and with a few more turns at it, I'm sure we'll cut off another 10-15 minutes.

One thing we've learned is to put the grain in the buckets before we let the goats in. When they come in they immediately go to the buckets to eat, if they are empty, they start wandering around looking for something to eat. Grabbing them and getting them back to the stands takes some time, especially the Big Goat.

Lets talk about that Big Goat (more accurately, I'll type and you read). Most of our goats are yearlings, but the Big Goat is 3 years old. She is quite a bit larger than the others and she is a cantankerous ol' cuss. She is the only one that seems to kick. The others will raise their legs and dance around but the Big Goat seems to actually try to kick. I think she got Trent upside the head the other day when we were doing the machine 'show-n-tell'. She kept trying to kick off the milkers this morning, and when I was hand milking the last bit, she kicked the bucket out of my hand. I only lost a few squirts, but it is irritating nonetheless.

We are also starting to get all the little things that are making life more convenient: Trent and his minions built us 2 goat stands(you can notice the one in the pictures), we have a stand for the pump and milker, the feeding buckets...Now that we are settling in we are noticing things that will help us out, not necessary, but nice to have things.

We have several other families we are going to give milk to. They will pay some of the feed costs and we will give them milk. If this works out well enough, we'll get 1 or 2 more goats and see if we can get to the point that the only cost we incur is time and labor.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time for the Machine!

With 6 milking goats and most of us being novice milkers, it was finally time to break out the machine. I don't know what brand, model, or serial number it has, but it works very well. Trent and I (as well as 2 of his minions) gave it a go last night. It was amazingly fast! Probably less than 5 minutes per goat. Since we can get 2 at once, that will drop milking time down to about 20 minutes once we get the system down. It took us a while longer last night because of trying to figure out the best/fastest/easiest way to get this done and it will probably take a few more times to hit on the best way, but it is substantially more pleasant than hand milking.

Although the milking itself is a huge improvement, the cleanup time has gone up. However, I'd much rather have more time on the cleanup than on the milking. The sooner I can get away from the goats and hay, the better for my allergies. Once we get a better system of cleaning down, that will go much faster as well. All in all, this is going to make our turn of milking much much nicer, save for the fact of having to get up earlier to get it done!

The Milking bucket is pretty cool, in an octopussy, squidy, Cthulhu type of way, tubes and tentacles, and unknown appendages of all types springing from everywhere. I felt like Captain Nemo for a bit. But once we got it all straightened out, it works smooth as butter. It doesn't quite get all the milk out, you need to do a bit of hand milking to empty the udders, but not much. We're guessing it is only a cup or two at the most. Next time we'll bring a small bucket to catch all that extra so we can get a more accurate measure, but I don't believe it will be very much. Even without getting those few extra squirts, we got just shy of 2 gallons so we are right close to where we were expecting.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Here is Mike getting mauled. I think we are finally getting adjusted and the goats are feeling more at home. The first night of milking was the most difficult, everything was new and the new goats were trying to figure out what had just happened to them, but for the most part this was an easier transition than the last new additions had been at least as far as the goats getting use to each other, the first milking session, well I only wish that upon those that wouldn't let me have seconds in the school lunch line.

Hello everyone, here are a few updated pictures. And EVERYONE, please put your experiences, thoughts, feelings and comments here. I know of a few stories that I'm sure a lot of other people would really benefit from hearing, so please make it a habit of posting. If anyone has any questions please ask, maybe you are interested in getting a group started yourself, we have learned a lot and can probably save you some time and headache, just ask, thanks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More & More & More Goats

We are now up to 6 milking goats. The group picked up 3 more so now we have 7 goats. Now let's see how is going to be the Alpha Doe. The 3 new goats are Nubians and Trent went all the way to Idaho to get them. He got a really good price as he was able to get 3 goats for the same price as 1 of the first original goats, Kendra/Lilly. We are going to have to come up with names for all of the goats now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Settling In

We've had quite a bit of rain in the last few days so things are pretty wet with the Goats. The area where they are being kept has a nice shelter for the goats to get out of the weather, it also has an area that we can milk with the milkers keeping out of the weather as well. All in all a pretty good setup.

With the new goats we got recently, it seems as if the the pecking order still hasn't been decided. One of the brown goats and the white goat that is milking seem to be butting heads(literally and figuratively) constantly. When we show up to milk those two are going at it to see who will be the first on the stand. I have also noticed that while they are fighting, the other brown goat often sneaks to the front of the line. That has happened twice that I've seen so far. When the bossy brown goat notices this, she leaves the white goat and tries to get in, but by that time I've usually got the gate shut to the milking area and started the makes me chuckle. After I've finished the first goat, the other brown goat is waiting and ready to go, it isn't going to miss it's chance again!

I have noticed that the other white goat that isn't milking yet, seems to be low rung on the totem pole. She gets pushed out of the way all the time by the other goats. But either she has accepted her role or doesn't mind. I kinda feel sorry for it, it will stand by the gate and watch the other goats getting milked and eating their grain (we give them grain while milking). Since it never gets milked it never gets any, but I try to give it a handful every now and then. Today she didn't want any at all. Not sure what that means, but we'll see if she doesn't want any tonight either.

We are regularly getting 1 gallon of milk from the 3 goats with the white goat giving 1/2 gallon by herself. We haven't noticed any taste differences, but we are mixing the milk during the milking and not keeping them separate, that would be way more hassle.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Increasing the Herd

We got quite a surprise this morning when we showed up to milk. There were 2 more goats there!

We now have 4 goats. These 2 white ones are Saanen(had to look up that spelling) and are supposed to produce lots of milk.

Only 1 of the new goats is producing right now, but she is producing as much as the 2 others are combined. She seems to produce a much bigger stream of milk also, bigger holes in the teats or something I suppose.

Our original 2 I believe are Nubian or more properly, Anglo-Nubian, according to this site.

So this morning we got right around 1 gallon of milk. We haven't tasted it yet to see if we notice a difference in the taste or not, but since it is all mixed, I'm not sure if we would be able to tell a difference or not. We might have to keep the milk separate one time to notice a difference.

Monday, June 1, 2009

First Full Milking

So last Thursday we did our first full milking. It was a little slow but no real problems. The old granny goat did step in the bucket twice so I was all for throwing it out, but my wife says that if it doesn't kill us it'll make us stronger. She handles the filtering of the milk so I'll put my life into her hands on that one. Or more appropriately, I'll put my kids life into her hands....

I've milked cows when I was younger so it isn't totally new to me, but it will take a bit to get used to it again. Probably by that time we'll start with the machine...which is fine with me. No matter how good I get with my hands, I'll not be able to compete with a machine.