Something is wrong! What have I done?!
The friend who traded us for Summer, our first milking goat, patiently tried to coach me, not nearly as concerned as I was.
“Are you massaging her udder with a warm wash cloth before you milk her?”
Yes I am!
“Are you feeding her her favorite treat before and after milking?”
Though I did try on the first day to transition her from her animal cracker addiction to fresh cucumbers straight from the garden, thinking of her long term health.
Summer would have none of it.
After 3 days of barely being able to coax a cup from her I thought for sure I’d created some awful affliction, maybe worse than mastitis, yet to be listed in any book, from my sheer incompetence, or maybe that she just didn’t like me, at all.
Her udder was full to the point of bursting, but I was failing miserably at filling my pail. At that point if my friend had advised me to bring scented candles, perhaps some champagne too, to our milking sessions I’d have asked, “Which scent does she prefer?”
But as chance would have it, on the 4th day we had visitors. Friends of this friend wanted one of our young boars for future breeding. These were true farm folk, born and raised. I wasted no time whining about my failure as a blossoming milkmaid.
I played coy for the necessary split second before taking them up on their offer to take a peak at her.
When they saw her udder they had concerns. The dreaded ‘mastitis’ term crossed their lips and I felt even more deflated.
“Oh, no, how do I fix that?” I lamented.
Summer hopped right up on the milk stand for her animal crackers. At least we got that part down. They both examined her udder more closely and concurred it wasn’t particularly hot, so probably not mastitis, followed by my great sigh of relief.
The large man, with a deep country drawl, stepped behind her then and proceeded to pound at her swollen bag with an upward motion and milk burst out both her teets.
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with this goat!” he confirmed. Then he gave a couple of tugs and strong, steady milk streams came pouring forth.
“How did you do that?” Was my relieved exclamation.
He proceeded to show me how it was all my bad, I was not being nearly rough enough.
“You gotta get way up in there hard and pull that milk down. Give her some good shots with your fist, like this. As long as your not bruising her or using a 2 x 4, she’s fine.”
Summer was completely calm and unfazed by this approach. Apparently I was tickling her more than milking her. We’re already up to a quart with my refined method.
I envy the rednecks and all their learnin’. So little seems to phase them, whereas I still get squeamish around blood and death and dis-ease after a decade of the most typical farm foibles.
Perhaps reading my mind and wishing to make me feel better, the large man shared a story as we stood at the gate before their departure.
“Now, I apologize in advance,” he began, “we just met, but let me tell you . . .”
And he proceeded to tell the story, flush with explicatives, about his recent long haul (he’s a truck driver in addition to a farmer, few make it these days as ‘just’ farmers) when his Bigrig broke down.
“Well I had to get one of them Ubers to take me into town and I ain’t ever been so scared in my life!” He’s a veteran, served overseas in the Middle East, grew up on a farm, been a truck driver for decades, but that Uber driver had him clinging with both hands for dear life, begging to Jesus and swearing to never get in a car with one of them crazy drivers for anything money can buy.
I inquired if he’d gone online to give the driver a poor rating.
“A poor rating?” he questioned. “They don’t go that low!”
He’s probably too nice of a guy to give that driver an ear-full while he had the chance. But I bet I would’ve!
I tried to find an appropriate fun song about goats to finish this post, but the best one was about a Billy.