Janie The Precocious Goat is still making milk.
Back at the beginning of May, I wrote a piece about Janie making milk without having been bred (you can read that post here: https://applewoodfarm.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/shes-not-kidding/). At the time, we really didn’t know whether the milk would continue and, for a while, it did seem to taper off. A couple of weeks ago, however, I noticed that her bags were REALLY FULL and she clearly needed to be milked.
Since we hadn’t milked in several weeks, I did the ol’ pump-n-dump (a favorite for breastfeeding mommies who went ahead and had that second glass of wine, thank you very much), contributing the milk to the bottomless charity that is the pig trough. This system went on over the next week or so; Janie would need to be milked every other day and the milk would be immediately donated to the pigs.
Then, last week, I went to feed the goats, saw Janie’s milk-packed udders, and realized I’d forgotten to bring a container.
The thing about goats (ours anyway) is that once you’ve gotten within 100 feet of them and/or they’ve heard your voice, there is no going back. The bleating starts in earnest and they run around as though they’ve been trapped and abandoned forEVER and they have not had anything to eat since last month, and I don’t care what you forgot, get in here NOW!
So, I looked around for something improvisational.
The only even remotely possible substitute was the plastic quart container (think Chinese soup take-out vessel) that we use to scoop their feed/alfalfa mixture. A total absence of choices always makes decisions easy.
Now, unlike most goats, Janie will not be milked in the stanchion. She hates it.
I can’t say that I blame her, really. I don’t imagine it is pleasant to have your head locked in a brace that prevents you from moving, even if there is a bunch of food right in front of you.
Luckily for me, she will allow herself to be milked as long as we do it wherever she happens to be at the time.
Sometimes she’ll actually stand right on the stanchion, but backwards. I have to admit, I kind of admire that level of defiance.
So, I’m milking her into the quart container and she’s got A LOT of milk this time. As I’m going along and the foam settles, I realize that I’m precariously close to the lip of the container and Janie’s bags are still quite full. Hmmm…
I stop for a moment, bring the container around to her face, and let her smell it.
She dips her tongue tentatively into the warm froth and then, without hesitation, she literally sinks her entire muzzle into the container and almost drains it within seconds.
And now there is room in the container for me to finish milking her.
Sometimes these things work themselves out.
We go along like this for a day or two before I get a call from my friend Sue. Sue is connected to a wonderful wildlife sanctuary nearby called The Wildlife Center. She is wondering if we have any goat milk to spare for a small group of fawns who are being rehabilitated and cared for prior to being released back into the wild in a month or so.
Well, Sue… funny you should ask.
So, we start milking Janie to SAVE BABY DEER! We went from chucking it into the pig trough, to returning it right back into the goat from whence it came, to really making a huge difference for four beautiful fawns.
The girls and I had the good fortune to meet said fawns during today’s milk drop-off.
And before you go on and on about how the deer population is out of control and the last thing we need are MORE deer and isn’t this all just nature’s way of dealing with a problem… just look at how sweet they are.
I’d never come into physical contact with a not-dead deer before. They are soft and sweet and beautiful and friendly and they chew on everything.
In fact, the fawn pictured here was trying to eat the button right off the pants I was wearing–the same button that the goats are always angling for.
They are like some perfect dog-goat hybrid and I’m pleased to be able to help give them a running start before hunting season.