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January on the Farm

Twice a day, every day, cold weather, hot weather, rain, snow or sleet, the goats are hand-milked. We don’t very the schedule by more than an hour or two - EVER. The process goes like this:

·      Gather the stainless steel milking supplies together in the kitchen (milking bucket, milk storage pail, strainer, teat wash, milk straining cloth, teat cleaning and drying cloths)


·      In cold weather it takes several minutes to get all your clothes on (insulated hooded sweatshirt, wool scarf, wool cap, insulated coveralls, insulated coat, insulated gloves, insulated muck boots – make sure the batteries are charged in the hand warmers)

·      Prepare the milk stand by putting the goat feed in the box (each goat has their preferences of what they like)

·      Let the girls into the milk parlor in a specific order (Margoat first, ALWAYS; then Sadie, and last comes Mildred)

·      The girls will jump up on their respective stands to have a leisurely meal while they get milked.


Just a note here about goats for those readers who have never lived with them.  They are very social animals and like order in their lives, a LOT of order.  If things get out of sequence it really rocks their universe.  They mope around, they are unhappy and let their stablemates know it, and their milk production will drop off.  We have learned this the hard way, but thankfully after years of living with them, we have found that a solid routine makes them happy (that is why Scott cares for the animals and I make the soap)!


Back to the process:

·      The girls all get a little udder wash & dry and sometimes a brushing on their undersides before the milking begins.  This makes it a much more sanitary process!

·      They are milked into a stainless steel bucket through a strainer with a fine woven cloth.  This catches any debris that may have been missed when they were cleaned before the process started.

·      Once the goat is milked, the milk is poured into a stainless steel storage pail with a tight fitting lid.  The process is repeated for each goat.

·      Once they have finished their grain, they get their dessert (cracked corn for Mildred and Sadie, alfalfa pellets for Margoat – she doesn’t like cracked corn).

·      When they are finished, the goats return to their stalls where fresh hay and water is waiting for them.

The milk is brought immediately to the house where it is filtered once again as it is poured into clean, sanitized glass milk bottles and quickly cooled down in the milk refrigerator. Each bottle is marked with the date that it was filled.

Once everything has been done, all the milking equipment must be thoroughly washed and sanitized in preparation for the next milking. It's a good thing we have plenty of good goatmilk soap and lotion, our hands are in hot, soapy water a LOT!


Other tasks occur while the goats are eating their meals.  The buck is fed and watered, the chickens are also fed and watered and eggs are gathered.   All the water for the animals is completely changed out twice each day – our goats don’t like “old” water (or hay or anything else for that matter). 


Contrary to common belief, goats are very persnickety eaters. They won’t eat their hay if it has touched the ground. They won’t eat grass or grass hay – our goats prefer clover. Sometimes they refuse to eat at all if the wind is from the east – you get the picture! We are persnickety about what our goats eat as well, which is why we get all our feed from KOFFI (Kentucky Organic Farm and Feed Incorporated). We have a special blend that they make for us, and we drive two and a half hours – one way – every couple of months to get their feed.   We feel the trouble and expense of providing them with organic, non-GMO feed is worth it since we have concerns about what is in the food chain and don’t want to contribute to the synthetic chemical burden on our planet.


Winter; specifically cold weather, provides its own set of challenges. When Scott brought the milk in this week when the temperature had dipped below zero, the milk straining cloth was frozen to the strainer.  It had to be thawed out before I could remove it to clean and samitize it.  The ice in the animal watering buckets had to be chopped before fresh water could be added, which meant more time to finish doing chores (something you don’t want when you are already chilled to the bone and your fingers quit working). Not to mention the stress on the animals, although our European dairy goats love cold weather – I guess it reminds them of the Alps!  They have long shaggy coats in the winter which are perfect for protection from the elements. Scott, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of temperatures below 50 (or the wind!).


I know that some people romanticize about living on a farm and becoming self-sufficient.  It is a wholesome way to live, but in practice it has its moments – especially when the wind is bitter cold and you would like to sleep in.  The animals still need to be fed and milked (our philosophy is that is always done before we eat), the eggs gathered and cleaned, the extra milk processed into cheese, and on and on and…

Life on a small Posey County Goat Dairy isn't for everyone, but I wouldn't trade it for anything!


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