The Taming of Clover, Or How I Took the Tears Out of Milking

Aug
27

I started milking Clover a little over two weeks ago. I had never milked before, and Clover had never been milked before. And we have survived to tell the tale. I’ve gone from a tablespoon of milk a day to a jam jar to a reliable full pint every morning–thanks, in large part, to your many great suggestions!


First, we moved the milkstand to solve the problem of Clover scooting away from me and falling off the side of the milkstand. The milkstand is now placed against a fence.

She also got more and bigger rocks in her food tray. And more food. I let her eat as much as she’ll eat.

After she stops eating, I let her play with the plastic feed jug.

She rolls it around in the tray and sticks her head in it, so it keeps her amused a little bit longer. I buy coffee in these blue Maxwell House containers and they make great feed jugs, by the way. They’re the right size (for the number of animals I keep) to bring cracked corn out to the chickens and ducks or bring the morning feed to Clover, and the handle makes them really easy to use. And they’re free (recycled/repurposed)!

I was using a five-gallon bucket, turned over, as a milking stool, but it was too high and made me uncomfortable. We could have raised the milkstand, but finding a stool that would work seemed easier. I found this old milk crate worked just right for the height I needed with the level of the milkstand as it was. Getting the right stool at the right height for me for the milkstand makes milking a lot more comfortable.

And, of course, the most critical issue was stopping the kicking. We tried hobbling her several different ways, finally settling on tying both legs, down, to the milkstand, above the bend in her legs. We use soft, wide rope, slip-knotted. Getting the knots and the tying down just right took a few tries. You can see in the photo above how she’d slipped out of the knot and it had dropped to her foot on one side (which allows her to start kicking). I’ve finally got the knack for getting it fixed tightly enough on her upper leg to keep it there, as you can see in the photo below.

I like this hobble setup the best. For one thing, it puts her legs in the most natural position. She struggles less against the hobble in this position than she did when we tried hobbling her with one leg tied up. Plus, this way makes me feel like a kinder, gentler person. And, it works. She doesn’t struggle against it very much and she can’t kick.

I thought I finally had the whole milking thing solved and was ready to milk by myself. The first morning I went down to milk her alone, I found out she had at least one more trick for me. Somehow, she’d managed to break the tray off the front of the milkstand. The babies tend to climb around in it during the day and sometimes even nap in it, but the problem occurred overnight while they were crated, so I assume it was Clover who broke it.

Not to be deterred, I made do that morning with the tray balanced on a chair sitting on a chair, which was the only thing I could figure out on the fly to get the tray at a workable height and get the milking done.

It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done. Look at me, leaving that pail so near Clover while I take a picture. There was even milk in it! The hobble works!

She struggles less every day, and she can no longer kick at all. Slowly, I’m getting the kinks worked out. (And the milkstand tray is reattached and braced now.)

When she’s finished eating, and finished playing with the feed jug, and finished struggling, she stares back at me as I’m milking. I tell her, “You are such a pretty doe! You love to be milked, don’t you? Are we having fun or what? I love you, Clover!”

And she says, “Are you finished violating me yet, woman?”

So, well, we have a few attitude adjustments left to make. But milking is finally, gradually, becoming the peaceful, enjoyable morning interlude I imagined it could be. I have my routine down. Clover can’t kick anymore. I get her ready then sit down and start to milk, listening to the crow of the roosters and the steady squirts of her sweet, warm milk into the pail. Then I give her a scratch, sometimes a hug, let her go, release the babies, and take my pail upstairs. I filter it into a glass pint jar and am awed every day at what Clover and I have created together.

Milk.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 27, 2008  

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Comments

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  1. 8-27
    6:22
    am

    Great Job!!! keeping at her finally paid off!! LOL

  2. 8-27
    6:26
    am

    Congratulations!

  3. 8-27
    7:09
    am

    What a lovely way to start your day!

  4. 8-27
    7:21
    am

    Good going Suzanne !! You are doing great with the milking!A nice pic of your family today.
    You have great looking parents !! Of course your children too !!

  5. 8-27
    7:26
    am

    Perseverance pays off! Congratulations! :clap:

    -Kim A.

  6. 8-27
    7:44
    am

    Awesome!
    You got the milking thing down to a science so thats totally great!
    Good Job! :shimmy:

  7. 8-27
    7:53
    am

    NOW THESE ARE THE SIZE OF ROCKS I WAS TELLING YOU ABOUT!!!!! good job! I LOVE your parents…they are adorable! Look at your mom and her red hair…what a hottie sitting on that porch of yours!!!

    Very exciting for you to be able to milk alone and be happy at the end of it…BUT…tell your dad….. we all remember whose picture was posted FIRST on this Blog holding the first full pint jar of Clover Milk!! That smile of his…careful not to be too big and boastful..a gentleman’s smile if you will…however it was just enough to show us “THIS is how it’s done folks!” Don’t be stealing his thunder Suzanne!!! hahaha

    so great!

    Tresh in Oklahoma!
    so great…

  8. 8-27
    8:09
    am

    Congratulations, Suzanne!
    The way Clover looks at you is so cute. Such curiosity in her face.

  9. 8-27
    8:17
    am

    Very soon – you’ll not need to hobble her at all – she’ll be so comfortable with the process that she’ll be glad to be relieved of the pressure from the milk. We have a 4-H friend whose does even “help” by squatting to be milked.

    hugs from PA
    connie

  10. 8-27
    8:19
    am

    YAY! :clap:
    Got my book, thank you so much!

  11. 8-27
    8:21
    am

    Ahhh it seems she is settling in nicely! :sheep:

  12. 8-27
    8:32
    am

    Yeah goal accomplished. Now I can’t wait to see the cheese-making process!

  13. 8-27
    8:41
    am

    Yahoo! You’ve done it! Good for you for sticking to it. :)

  14. 8-27
    8:42
    am

    YAAAAAYYYYYY! WOOHOOO!!!!

    :rockon: :woof: :shimmy: :clap: :elephant:
    :bananadance: :thumbsup: :snoopy:

    WOW THERE ARE A LOT OF THE HAPPY FOR YOU ICONS
    CONGRATS ON YOUR WIN!!!
    :flying:

  15. 8-27
    8:50
    am

    Congratulations! Well done.

  16. 8-27
    9:02
    am

    I’m so relieved! Now we can start looking forward to the day when she willingly allows you to milk her. Love the photo of her in the milk stand, looking up at you for her rations. Good job!

  17. 8-27
    9:10
    am

    What a great story to read to start my day! Congratulations to you both.

  18. 8-27
    9:36
    am

    It’s so cool, how far you’ve come! And she’s adorable, btw.

  19. 8-27
    9:40
    am

    You and Clover are a team. I see homemade cheese in the near future for you!

  20. 8-27
    9:40
    am

    Yay! You’ve definitely got country blood in you. You didn’t give up. And as connie from PA says, she’ll get so used to the routine soon that you shouldn’t need the hobbles.

    Those rocks still crack me up.

    Granny Sue

  21. 8-27
    9:53
    am

    Congratulations Suzanne. That’s great.

  22. 8-27
    10:01
    am

    Congratulations Suzanne!!! You are a milker now! That was well done! That tickles me she gets to play with the Maxwell House jug, to entertain her! LOL Clover is so precious! I love that the babies nap in her food trough! Don’t you feel PROUD and ACCOMPLISHED!!! Your farm is really getting in order and before you know it, you’ll be an ol pro and can maybe help someone else start a farm one day!
    I love the family picture. Princess is such a character! You have a nice looking family! :mrgreen: Now, if we can just get 52 in that picture! :mrgreen:

  23. 8-27
    10:18
    am

    :hug: Good for you! I knew you and Clover would work it out.

  24. 8-27
    10:29
    am

    Way to go! So glad you got the milking down. Can’t wait to hear about the cheese.

    Now why does that remind me of Monty Python? Blessed are the cheesemakers… :)

  25. 8-27
    10:34
    am

    It is a learning experience for both of you. I imagine that if you had more than one goat to milk there would be more problems. They probably each have their own little quirks.

    – Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  26. 8-27
    10:52
    am

    Congratulations on your new milking skills.

  27. 8-27
    11:05
    am

    Huzzah!

  28. 8-27
    11:22
    am

    I knew you would get there! Enjoyed the tale of the feed tray falling off and your quick fix. You are a true farm woman now, figuring out how to fix anything on your own. Congratulations!

  29. 8-27
    11:30
    am

    Just over two weeks and you have achieved near perfection. Good work, Suzanne. You should be proud. We love your posts.

  30. 8-27
    1:33
    pm

    You go girl! :thumbsup: :woof:

  31. 8-27
    2:16
    pm

    I get such a kick out of your site. From Clover and the kids, to the cooking and all of your myriad daily accomplishments……you ROCK!!!! :shimmy:

  32. 8-27
    2:21
    pm

    I knew you would win Clover over. Congratulations! :clap:

  33. 8-27
    4:07
    pm

    YAY! Sounds as though things worked out for you!

  34. 8-27
    4:58
    pm

    Very, very soon – CHEESE :mrgreen:

  35. 8-27
    5:24
    pm

    Received my book, thanks again!

  36. 8-27
    5:52
    pm

    What will you do this winter when there’s snow on the ground and it’s 10 below?

    Will you be able to move the milking operation inside somewhere?

  37. 8-27
    8:47
    pm

    I am so happy for you Suzanne. Doesn’t it feel grand?!

  38. 8-27
    10:04
    pm

    Congratulations on a job well done! And also for all your perseverance.

  39. 8-27
    11:28
    pm

    VERY cool.

  40. 8-28
    12:33
    am

    Awesome!! Way to go! :bananadance:

  41. 8-28
    12:55
    pm

    Suzanne–Way to go. Doesn’t it do your heart good to get your own milk, thru your own efforts, from your own goat on your own farm? What a rush. Aren’t goats wonderful? Clover is a beautiful girl.

  42. 8-29
    12:36
    am

    I smell goat milk soap cooking on the stove this weekend! You can sell it for $10 per bar. Your loyal fans will appreciate it more for all the struggles that it took to get there.

  43. 6-18
    12:19
    pm

    I just laughed out loud, sitting in my office goofing off reading your adventures with Clover. I have a LaMancha named Fudge that I have been fighting with for two years. I kiss her and tell her what a good girl she is, and I can see the hate in her eyes. when she is not on the milking stand she is a good girl. Last year she refused to nurse her kid and so had to be milked by hand. This year although she is a great mother, she is producing enough milk for a small village (over a gallon a day) and so has to be milked by hand. I have come to work with a hoof shaped bruise right in the middle of my forehead. She has broken two pairs of glasses. Right now I have a large bruise on the back of my hand. I have tried tieing, holding, shaving, coaxing and cajoling. We have a detente on the right teat, but hell breaks loose when I touch her left. I see no solution in sight, but at least I got a good laugh from your trials.

  44. 7-31
    5:55
    pm

    now i know how to milk my goat who fights me thanks. :woof:

  45. 4-17
    10:31
    am

    I now have hope! Am a first time milker with a difficult Nigerian who doesn’t have patience for a newbie. After reading this on my third day of milking, I am feeling less discouraged. This morning was a complete disaster and I was feeling like my long-held hopes of being enjoying my own fresh goat milk were completely dashed. I’m going to keep at it like you did and find what works for me. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.

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