Mama Mello is a pain in the ass on the milking stand.
I don’t mean a little persnickety, or tough to get up on the stand, I mean kicking, screaming, falling down on purpose, ridiculousness.
If my Homesteading Dreams weren’t so tightly wrapped up in her I might give up entirely…
But damn, her milk is good!
Let me back up for a minute:
Four years ago when we joined the Goat Share to learn all we could about goats while still dreaming of bigger properties and the capacity for dairy animals Kim did all the milking and I played the support role (setting them up, feeding and watering the other goats, etc.).
I learned how to milk, but never really put in the time to practice, practice, practice because it wasn’t necessary at the time.
Fast forward 2.5 years and our arrival on this gorgeous rental property of ours featuring the perfect shelter and fenced yard for our first small herd of goats! So we started looking around and found a lady south of us with a nice herd of her own who was selling off the spring babies.
The breeder openly told us that Mama was a First Freshener but had not been milked yet. Being Newbies at everything we thought, “No problem, we’ll just work at it. Surely it will be fine.”
And so we tried to milk her a couple of times and failed miserably because she was just not having it…
So we decided we needed to build her trust so she might calm a bit…
But then Spring became Summer and she began drying off before we could get in there on a regular basis and master the art of Milking Mama.
So we bred her last Fall and continued to love, love, love on her through her whole pregnancy…Rubbing her neck and her head, her back and her belly and yes, her udders (which she hated but mellowed into a bit as I persisted over the months).
When the boys arrived last May, I was certain this was our opportunity to finally have some milk! And so we milked her a couple of times and she hated it…screamed and cried and stressed everyone out.
And then Spring turned into Summer and everything exploded.
Between my new job, Kim’s stress level + being laid out sick for a full month, company visiting, the massive Kitchen Garden, and life in general, milking Mama fell off the priority list.
But all was not lost because the boys were drinking and keeping her in milk!
With Summer behind us and the boys impending exit, Kim and I discussed how milking Mama was going to become a Make It or Break It situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our goats dearly, but they’re an expensive pet to carry if they’re not contributing to the Homestead (especially a hobby homestead like ours).
Now, I’m generally a very detailed person, a planner. . .but I did not plan for the fact that we scheduled the boys exit for the day after Kim would leave town for six days on a work trip.
To be completely honest, milking Mama didn’t even cross my mind as I was planning to be a single mom for a week while also processing what was about to happen with the boys on that Saturday afternoon.
So by Monday morning, while I was sitting outside with Mama, Lucy, and Ethel, trying to love on them and share space with them in the absence of the boys, I was smacked into reality by Mama’s very full udder.
I was embarrassed by myself and my short-sightedness.
And my mind raced with thoughts of, “How the hell am I going to milk Mama and wrangle E? Do I know how to milk? Can I remember?!”
But this was our shot! And I surely couldn’t wait another few days until Kim came home!
And so, E put on her Bat Girl Cape and mask and I put on my Big Girl Pants and we milked Mama.
It was ugly at first (she was so full and so uncomfortable) but as I released the pressure, she mellowed a bit.
E helped with grain and chatting with Mama and also made sure Lucy and Ethel were OK, too 😉
I didn’t get much in the pan that first day (about a cup), but the volume slowly increased over the next several days, as did my confidence and Mama’s composure.
Don’t get me wrong, there was never a day that she didn’t fight at least a little, but it was bearable. . .We found a rhythm together, she gave more and more milk, I gained confidence, and the process was much quicker and easier on both of us.
And then something shifted and she stopped being calm and started freaking out again.
Not sure if it was the time change or something else, but she is back to screaming and yelling and kicking and laying down in protest for both me and Kim.
Despite all of the glorious grains we can offer…
Despite scratches and pets and soothing chats…
Despite meditation and music…
Despite her discomfort (it can’t be fun to get yourself in such a tizzy that you actually fall) and even some tears on my part (over spilt milk, essentially, yes). . .
Despite how we tie her up/cobble her/don’t tie her up. . .whatever.
For a couple of weeks now.
And, as I said, it feels as though there really is something bigger at risk here than just a few ounces of milk (again, goats are expensive pets) so we are trying new things and doing our best to remain patient and vigilant.
But did I mention that Mama’s milk is absolutely divine?
Well, it’s worth mentioning again because it is so creamy and so delicious and has zero hints of “goatiness” and makes the best cheese and the most phenomenal cajeta you’ve ever tried (pictured above)!
And so, with every drop of milk worth its weight in gold, we keep trying…
And hoping the process of milking Mama will shift…
As soon as possible…
Before we all lose our minds and/or our will to keep pushing through.
: : : sigh : : :