A Real Milking Parlor


It was over two years ago when Beulah Petunia became my cow. I milked by hand for a year then I milked after that with a milking machine. I have milked under various adverse circumstances. I milked in the meadow bottom, crossing a creek with my pails of feed on the way there and milk on the way back. I’ve sat in the middle of a dirt road on an overturned bucket pouring milk into quart jars so I could drive it back up to the house on the steep, rutted driveway. Once I got a milk stand up at the top near the house, it quickly turned into a mud pit because it was built at the base of a ravine in the hillside. I’ve carried my milk bucket in mud that sucked the boots off my feet. Eventually, I abandoned that milk stand to milk anywhere but there. I’ve milked outside in the rain and the snow with BP not even tied to a post. I’ve milked with chickens, goats, sheep, and donkeys nosing in on the business, and I’ve milked with one great big bad baby fighting me for the teats. I’ve seen BP pick up a milk stand and walk off with it around her shoulders.

I’ve milked uphill both ways, so to speak.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my ideal milking parlor. I want a weather-protected parlor. Dry, under roof. Sheltered from the worst of the cold, from snow and rain and wind, and shaded from the heat. But I want light–light I can turn on with a switch. I want access to water in case I need it. I want an outlet for my milking machine. I want secure milk stands with posts set in concrete. I want feed boxes that are secured so they can’t be moved by the animal during milking. I want NO CHICKENS or other animals in the parlor. I want shelves where I can put things up off the ground, and hooks to hang things. I want the parlor located conveniently to the animals with easy access–and not far from the house, either.

I want the milking parlor I have now!

Here, the cow (whichever one I’m milking) can be brought in this door from the back barnyard.

From there, it’s just a few steps to the milking parlor.

The goat stand has a ramp for the goats to clamber up. The headlock has a feed box.

There is a hook for tying a leg, if necessary. Between the headlock and the hook, the goat can’t move off the stand. (It’s Cookie Doe-tested.)

This piece of wood slides out to reveal two holes. The stand is up high for the milking machine. The inflations can be poked up from the bottom to hook onto the goat. The wood cover for the holes is to keep the goat from stepping in the holes when they get on the stand. Only after they’re in place is the wood removed and the inflations brought up. The wood piece can be replaced when milking is done before the goat gets off the stand. (The holes still need to be tested for size–I don’t have the inflations yet. When I get them, we’ll see if the holes need to be enlarged or not. I didn’t want to make them bigger than necessary, so we’re waiting to fine-tune on that.)

Here, Cookie Doe was being measured to fit the milk stand to a Nigerian Dwarf.

Glory Bee was brought in for measurements for the cow milk stand.

Pictured–Adam with Glory Bee. Adam is here doing some work in the barn and the fields for me. He was in charge of re-coating the barn roof, then he did some other odd jobs around the barn (such as working on the electric), built the milking parlor, and next he is going to work on my field across the road to repair the fencing. There is a good creek with more water in it in that field, so I need to get it ready for the horses this summer for when I have to take them down off the upper pasture when the creek there is too dry. Adam has worked with milk cows all his life, which is why I chose him to work on my milking parlor along with some other barn and field work. He understands cows, and Glory Bee likes him.

Adam bringing Glory Bee up out of the field:

He also works on SarahGrace’s farm, where Glory Bee and BP were for two months this spring to (hopefully) get bred, so he spent some time with Glory Bee there.

Taking Glory Bee back after measurements:

Glory Bee is a little bit bigger (taller) than BP. BP is a Jersey, and Glory Bee is half Brown Swiss, which is a slightly bigger cow. The stand was measured to be sure to fit Glory Bee properly since she is the one I will likely be milking the most and the farthest into the future. (The stand will also fit BP, but making sure it wasn’t built too small for Glory Bee was the critical part.)

No cow will ever pick this milk stand up around their shoulders and walk off with it. The posts are set in concrete.

Chicken wire around the tops of the milking parlor keeps chickens out. There’s a set of shelves for anything I need to put up. (Morgan brought her saddle in here since this is the chicken-proof room in the barn now. I’ve got the vacuum pump on a shelf, too.) I brought the milking machine in on the cart and fired it up to make sure everything was in working order and that it wouldn’t overload the circuit. (I had had the barn wiring redone, so I was just checking.)

There is a water faucet just outside the barn door. Everything on my dream milking parlor list is here. In fact, it exceeds my fantasies since it’s also inside a big red barn.

This milking parlor is so wonderful, it makes me cry.

It makes Cookie Doe cry, too.

I stand in this milking parlor and all the hard times and hard ways I’ve milked run through my mind. Despite it all, I kept at it–because I love keeping a milk cow and providing for myself. Milking a cow is one of the most satisfying acts on a farm. I miss it–and I hope my cows are pregnant. (It’s too early still to have them preg checked.) Meanwhile, I’m going to get some goat-sized inflations to hook up to the machine for Cookie Doe and milk her. (I see a battle coming since the last time we discussed it, she threw her Sassafras Farm ID badge in the trash.)

But I have a new milking parlor. A real one.

And I can’t wait to use it!

P.S. Want to add that my goat stand, set up for the milking machine this way, was inspired by Shelley at Twiggity Rusticks. If you check out her blog, you might find pics in there somewhere of her goat stand setup.


  1. Leah says:

    The milking parlor is great! Sounds like Cookie Dough may need a pink-slip too tho. 🙁

  2. 54R4H says:

    That truly is a beautiful milking parlor. I’d love to see a close up of this leg hook thing, sounds like a feature we need to add to our goat stand.

  3. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Hip Hip Hoooorrrraaaayyyy!!!!

  4. Camille says:

    Excellent and such a well done job too…and well deserved I might add! Glory Bee has turned into a beautiful lady cow.

  5. SarahGrace says:

    :moo: :moo:

  6. Rose H says:

    Whoop-woo! Three cheers for you! What a brilliant milking stand..
    :sheepjump: :moo:

  7. CATRAY44 says:

    I am so happy for you! That first glass of milk will be wonderful, I bet!

  8. NancyL says:

    this is fantastic and exciting! So happy for you!!!

    Nancy in Iowa

  9. dmcfarland says:

    What an upgrade! I have to ask, wouldn’t concrete (textured finish) poured on a slight incline where the cows stand and maybe a few feet around that area be a good idea? Easy to hose off.

  10. mds9 says:

    Very interesting. I have always wanted to have a milk goat. Would you explain how the head locks into the feeder.
    Thanks for the tip on “Shelley at Twiggity Rusticks”. I’ll check out her blog.

  11. SwissMiss says:

    If I might suggest some cruched limestone on the floor would be a good idea in the cow milking stall. You would be amazed at how much water can drip off of a cow while she is standing still, especially in the winter if she is snow covered. Crushed limestone is easy on the cow feet and will pack down into a fairly hard surface. The best way is to slope it to the back end of the cow/stall. That way the water and bodily fluids will not collect in your milking area under the cow. Happily it looks like there is some growth room in the stall because GB is probably not to her full size yet. Brown Swiss are slower to mature than other dairy breeds and even though she is 1/2 Jersey, she has a lot of Swiss charecteristics (sp). Using Adam as a reference, I bet GB will grow up another 3 inches at least. How far out she will grow is anybody’s guess. lol
    Milking out of the weather will be so much nicer for you. Can’t wait to see pictures of the stall in use.
    Oh and an aluminum (darn I can’t spell tonight and am to tired to find the dictionary, sorry) scoop shovel would a great item to have too. That way you can pick up any type of poo. From the nice, firm cow pie to the liquid manure that fresh pasture or a change in feed can cause.


  12. rhubarbrose says:

    Good for you Suzanne – it looks great. You are to be commended on your determination to get a decent milking station for your cows and goats. You have managed to surround yourself with great resourceful people too – congrats! Love your reflections on past milking experiences.

  13. twiggityNDgoats says:

    Great milking room. I’ll be curious to see how your holes in the goat stand work out. I have a 2-inch-wide slot across the width of my stand so that I can pull the hoses off to the side when I change goats. I cover the inflations with a baggie to keep the dirt out. So far my girls just straddle the slot with no problems, even the little kids. I also covered my wood stand with a rubber mat (from Armacell here in town) so it would be easy to clean. Since I milk in my utility room, the dried milk on the stand got cruddy and stinky. The stand itself is positioned over a drain – sheer dumb luck 🙂

    I like your head piece better so I will probably modify mine from a keyhole style to the pivoting kind this winter. My current setup will be a bit too short for my minis and LaMancha next year.

    And I will have to do a blog soon on my milking set-up.

  14. twiggityNDgoats says:

    In case anyone is interested I just finished a blog post on my milking set-up at https://intermittentfarmreport.blogspot.com/ I also included a video of my milking machine at work.

  15. twiggityNDgoats says:

    Should work. That is Cookie Doe’s daughter Snickerdoodle in the video.

  16. Glenda says:

    It looks wonderful! I felt so bad for you on the other place. I probably would have given up milking if I had that setup.

    I hope GB is easy to break to milking. I think the Brown Swiss in her is a good thing. They are usually more gentle than Jerseys…in my experience.

  17. littlekaren says:

    Wow your milking stands look great, happy times here they come. On another note, you may want Adam to build you a saddle tree to keep the saddle in top form, and not curling.

  18. Barbee says:

    I am so glad that Adam is available to help… beings that he is Glory Bee approved. You need some well deserved help and relief, not just with (but especially with) her, but with everything. When I see all this newfangled setup and think of all you went through I feel very emotional; I’m not crying, but I feel like it. The new constructions are very fine, however what I enjoy seeing more than anything are the very wide boards in the walls of the barn. Not many trees left that could produce boards that wide after they are milled.

  19. CarrieJ says:

    Nothing but GENIUS! You deserve all this and more. Can’t wait to see the trials and tribulations on milking Cookie Doe 🙂

  20. langela says:

    Thanks for all your thought processes on this. If/when I get a milk cow, I will refer back to this post as we build our own parlor.

  21. bonita says:

    City girl here, so the concept of “milking parlor” is …difficult to visualize.
    My first thought was Cookie Doe lounging in luxury such as this:

    https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/pressroom/photos/archives/dousman-parlor-post-restoration.jpg :sheep:

    However, from the context, this appears unlikely.

    So I combed through more google offerings:

    Darn, the image gives no clue as to the origin of the term “milking parlor”!

    Nevertheless, your milking parlor is Great, Suzanne.
    You certainly paid your dues for it whilst milking GB under truly foul conditions.

  22. oct4luv says:

    This is why I love reading your blog. You are an expert at turning your dreams into reality! :shimmy:

  23. outbackfarm says:

    Very nice! I know you are going to enjoy that alot. I so wish I had a sink and a refrigerator in my milk room. I have electric and a freezer. I put the milk pails in the freezer for a little while but sometimes I forget they’re in there. So a fridge would be really good to have. Those guys have done a great job. Can I have them next?

  24. Remudamom says:

    I see your saddle is up on the top shelf. Mine are on saddle racks, but you know you can hang a saddle from a hook by making a circle out of some hay string, sliding it through the opening in front of the horn, then looping over the horn and hanging it up. Better for the stirrups to hang that way than out flat and easier to reach and use.

  25. pattyb says:

    Suzanne, you’ll never know what an inspiration you have been to me since I stumbled upon your site. All though I don’t contribute much, you are my saving grace as soon as I sit down at my computer here at work. I just wish I had a smigen of your bravey in doing the things you have done!!!! I doubt it, though, because I hit the 59 mark last week and the years are going by quickly.
    Thank you, Suzanne for everything you do on this site. Pattyb

  26. cmashorty says:

    Suzanne, I am so proud for you, for your new milking parlor! What an improvement! There is nothing I enjoy like milking my goats, picking up fresh eggs from the hen house and then possibly fresh tomatoes and squash on the way back to the house. We are officially in a “food desert”, 10 miles or more from a grocery store. It is so nice not to have to worry about running out of things because we have had the foresight to provide for ourselves. You deserve a medal for your primitive milking conditions of the past!

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