|Meggie - before milking|
She is actually more OK with me milking she was with her own babies after a certain age.
When I milk I do everything I can to keep myself and the goat calm, focused and happy.
|Doesn't this look more comfortable?|
But my tendons are another matter. After six years of milking , my wrists started to hurt.
I couldn't squeeze water out of a sponge without excruciating pain. My friend Mellow gave me some exercises to help, but I knew the real answer was to give myself a break from the repetitive motion.
When we saw a DIY milker featuring a vacuum pump designed for brake bleeding, we knew we had to try one ourselves. This is a manually powered pump, so I wasn't sure it would reduce the stress on my arms, but if I didn't try it, I was in danger of becoming totally unable to use my hands. So, we got the parts and made one. Here Noah tries it out (with soapy water and food coloring).
|Noah pumping soap/food coloring to learn how it works|
Basically, the vacuum pump is connected by a 3/8" tube to the lid of a jar. A second tube connects to a pair of "teat cups", AKA two 60 cc syringes, which fit over Meggie's teats and form an airtight seal. The tubing is connected with aquarium airline connectors.
I was excited to try this system, but I found myself putting it off day after day. Which anyone who knows me will say is odd. Usually I'm someone who can't wait to try a new contraption.
I was having a hard time accepting that this less 'natural' system would be as gentle as my hand milking. Part of me was sure the syringes would either hurt Meggie, or suck her entire udder into them. Or at least, that she would resent me for using a machine for such a personal thing as drawing her milk.
|You're squeezing our teats with a what?!?|
Neither one happened.With some trepidation, I sprayed teat cleaner on Meggie's udder, wiped her clean, and set up the contraption.
I placed the cups on her teats, awkwardly holding them in place, and pumped the suction up to 10.
The teat only was pulled into the syringe until it formed an airtight seal, but no further. It appeared perfectly comfortable.
Meggie went on eating serenely as her milk began to draw down the tubing and into the jar. First a trickle, then a steady stream.
I have said it before.Meggie is the ideal goat. She is productive, calm, cooperative and gentle. I call her bomb proof. But I had expected some kind of reaction to having plastic cups suctioned onto her udder.
Nope. Nada. Nil. She just kept calm and carried on.
Another advantage to a milking device like this is, the milk never touches anything but the inside of the tubing and the jar. A barn, no matter what, is a barn. Spiders, straw, goat hair, flies in summer, dust, and you can imagine other things all end up there. Hand milking controls as much of the mess as possible, but the milker gives much more assurance that the milk will be clean. I love that. Even more, I love that once its going, I can step away from the milking process, at least long enough to get a picture of my happy, busily eating goat.