Monday, July 26, 2010

milking a goat

We have the blessing of a great science and nature center at our school. Part of the nature center is a barn with animals. We were recently invited to be part of the goat co-op to help care for and milk Ginger, a Nubian/Alpine goat.

We were already helping with Daisy, a cute little pony. Daisy is very easy to care for, but the goat pen is another story.

This beautiful girl is Ginger. I have never been a goat fan. I raised sheep in high school and have always considered goats to be beneath me. Ginger has changed all of that.

Before we let Ginger out, we make our preparations. Princess puts some feed in the bowl and gets the udder wash ready.

Princess goes into the goat pen with Ginger and the kids.

To distract the kids while she lets Ginger out to be milked, Princess feeds the kids some feed.

Poor Ginger is so full of milk in the morning that she cannot walk. She walks with her front legs and hops in the back. She runs straight for the milking stall and...

hops right up onto the milking stand. She sticks her head through the gate and begins to eat.

Princess locks the gate to keep her head in place while she eats.

The udder wash is made from super warm water, lavender oil, baby oil and gentle soap. Some people add tea tree oil to the wash. Princess washes the udder, giving special attention to the teats. The warm water wash helps Ginger relax and enables her milk to come down.

Princess squirts the first 5 squirts of milk from each teat to clear out any impurities. This initial milk just goes on the ground. If there were a kitty around, we would give the kitty the first 5 squirts. :)

Then Princess begins to milk. Notice how she squeezes with her index finger and thumb to create a block at the top of the teat. This creates a bulb of milk in the teat. She then squeezes with her tall man finger, then ring finger, then pinky finger. Release and repeat. She also raises her hand up as she is milking so has to not pull on the udder. It is handy to milk into a tall container with a handle so if Ginger kicks, Princess can quickly pull the milking container out of the way of the hoof. The kicking is minimal and is mainly a high step up and a stomp down. No big deal.

After she finishes milking both sides, she sprays a liquid on the teats to seal them in order to prevent bacteria from entering the udder. This spray is cold and after the warm lavender bath and Princess' warm hands, Ginger is less than thrilled with the temperature of the spray.

After milking and while Ginger is still eating, Princess brushes her and loves on her.

There's a bit of affection to go around.

From goat to milking girl. From milking girl to goat.

After turning Ginger out in the pasture, it is time to clean up with water and bleach.

After cleaning the milking stall, it is time to clean the goat pen. This is one night's activity from one Ginger and three kids. They are quite messy.

The finished goat stall. Much better. Clean goats make good milk.

After cleaning at the barn, we go home to put our milk away. We take a double stainless steel container to the barn. The outside container has ice water to create an ice bath for the milk. As soon as Princess milks into the pitcher at the milking stand, she pours the milk into the inner container in the ice bath. This immediately chills the milk. Goat milk needs to be chilled to 38 degrees fahrenheit as quickly as possible after collection. By pouring the milk immediately into a stainless steel container in an ice bath, I reduce bacteria and wind up with sweet, rich milk with no goat taste.
Next, we filter the milk to remove any impurities like hair, dander, etc.

Then, we fill our jars and bottles. The plastic bottles are handy for a rich protein snack on the go. Add a bit of protein powder and you can have lunch or a hearty snack. I also hear that Ginger's milk makes excellent ice cream. Can't wait to find out...

Blog Award

My SIL was so kind as to nominate me for a blog award. Thanks, Josha! Hop on over to her blog at Running Thoughts. You will be very inspired by her story.

The rules are:

  1. Thank the person giving the award

  2. Tell seven things about myself

  3. Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs

  4. Let your nominees know about the award.

Seven things about me:

  1. The formatting on this post is driving me batty.
  2. I am wife to superman and mom to my best girlfriend.
  3. I work at a software company.
  4. Following in my daughter's footsteps, I'm learning to ride horses - english style. Our horse is Hippo, a flea-bitten grey Arabian.
  5. I love Jane Austen novels. My latest favorite is Emma.
  6. I love to shop at Goodwill.
  7. I have Periodic Paralysis and am on the board of directors of the Periodic Paralysis Association. Check out our new video on YouTube.

I do not have 15 blogs to nominate, but I'll share some of my favorite blogs:

  1. The Queen B: Sweet gal and so down to earth.

  2. Bekah Believes: an IRL friend as well as a fellow blogger.

  3. Ministry So Fabulous: Amy Beth is one of my favorite internet friends. Love her! And you will, too.

  4. Small Town Life: Ann is another internet friend that would be an IRL friend if we lived closer. Maybe this award will pull her out of her blog hiatus. (Miss you, Ann!)

  5. Water Cooler Wisdom: another blogger on hiatus. Come back to us, Katybug!
  6. Stories of Grace: Her kids are adorable and so are their stories!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

You may remember our tradition of taking a family picture every year in front of a certain restaurant. Princess has grown over the past three years!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Vinegar, Eureka, Love

I cleaned all day today and Oh, my! Vinegar, how I love thee. But, wait. Let me back up.

I recently let my housekeeper go because I could not afford the expense. I have put this decision off for a long time (a year?) because her family depends on the income. I know times are hard for me, but she needs a job, too.

Anyway. It's just me and the mop now. I'm saving money.

So, I threw the mop out, too. And I got this. It's not here yet. It arrives tomorrow, but I'm terribly excited.

I know. Excitement over a new floor cleaner. But, really. I have a lot of tile in my house. Like 1,000 square feet of tile. That's a lot of mopping, baby. This ... this new love of mine uses just water. Hot water. Like, super duper hot water. And I get to swish it back and forth across my floor like June Cleaver while it steams and disinfects my floor. What is that you ask? How much cleaner do I have to buy for this new floor cleaner?

I'm so glad you asked. Nada. Zip. Nothin'. Wa-t-e-r. Cha-ching. I'm saving money again.

So, yes, I have the inital expense of the steam mop, but I'm saving my back and money in the long run. And I don't have to keep buying new mops or replacement mop heads.

So, I'm thinking of how else I can save money on cleaning and into my head pops the word, "vinegar". My grandad drank vinegar and used turpentine for everything. I thought the old genetics were getting me again, but then I googled "cleaning vinegar" and lo and behold! Greatdaddy wasn't the only one who loved vinegar. I heard boastful claims of vinegar cleaning everything in the house, garage and beyond.

At reports like this, I am apt to scoff. I did.

But, being the open-minded gal that I am, I bought a couple of jugs of white vinegar at Wal-Mart. $1.84 per bottle. I figured, hey - it's cheap. Let's try it.

Ya'll. Brace yourselves. Vinegar is like - amazing. I began cleaning the kitchen and half way through I was seriously having fun. I found that a dry cloth with straight vinegar cut the greasy fingerprints on my stainless steel fridge and dishwasher. It cleaned my black glossy stovetop like I was in a commercial!

By this time, I yelled for my pre-teen daughter to come witness the miracle in the kitchen. I sprayed the front of the black and stainless steel microwave and in one wipe the smudges disappeared. She said, "Give me that!" And took off with my vinegar.

We both went crazy. We sprayed her shower where she has dribbled red shower gel down the white tile wall. The tile reappeared under the shower gel. "Cool.", she said. That was it. She cleaned her tub. Her shower wall. Her sink. Straight vinegar on the mirror = no streaks! What in the world? We were having a ball.

Next thing I knew, she had snuck the vinegar and rag into her room and was cleaning the windows.

We had so much fun. This is not fiction, my friends. I'm telling you. Vinegar rocks. We both cleaned our respective bathrooms, the kitchen, the guest bath (where the vinegar took out the potty mildew ring, thankyouverymuch!) and left glistening glass shower doors in my bathroom. I cleaned all that with ONE product today and it cost me a third of a bottle. So, what is that ... $1.84 divided by 3 = 61 cents.

And no elbow grease. I saved money. Again.

And that is why Vinegar, I love thee.