by Erin Baldwin\r\n\r\n<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2014\/06\/COL.Happy-Homesteading.web_.jpg"><img class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-4028" src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2014\/06\/COL.Happy-Homesteading.web_-224x300.jpg" alt="COL.Happy Homesteading.web" width="224" height="300" \/><\/a>\r\n\r\n<strong>The overly ambitious\u00a0milking pail<\/strong>\r\n\r\nThe first winter after bringing home our four dairy goats, I purchased for myself a shiny, nine-quart, stainless steel milking pail. For almost a year now, it\u2019s been sitting idly by, waiting to be filled to the brim with fresh, delicious goat\u2019s milk. Our small herd of four Nubians should provide more than enough milk for our family to drink with a little leftover for making cheese, yogurt and soap.\r\n\r\nFinally, it\u2019s time to milk.\r\n\r\nThe goats are just learning the routine, which I would like to go something like this: one goat at a time calmly walks to the milk stand, hops up into the stanchion to leisurely munch on grain while I skillfully milk. Just the sweet smell of dew, cool morning air, chirping birds and the satisfying ting, ting, ting of delicious, goat\u2019s milk hitting the side of my milking pail.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s how it\u2019s been going:\r\n\r\nThe sun is barely up and my alarm goes off. I mix my udder wash and grab my still shiny milking pail. At the goat pen, I crack the gate. Four full-grown Nubians, push their noses through with all the muscle they can muster, as I do my best to let only one through at a time.\r\n\r\nThree escape, but I wrestle two back into the pen.\r\n\r\nGypsy is first, and it\u2019s me versus her to the stand. She knows there is grain waiting at the finish line. I slip in goat poop and she takes the lead. Around the stand we go. \u201cCome on girl, up here. Not that way. Wait. No. Jump up here.\u201d\r\n\r\nFinally, I get her to stretch her head through the headpiece and I quickly secure the lock. But her back legs are off the stand to the side. Maybe I can lift her the rest of the way up.\r\n\r\n\u201cMy gosh, how much do you weigh?\u201d\r\n\r\nNow, she\u2019s laying down on the stand. How can I get her up?\r\n\r\n\u201cUp girl, up.\u201d\r\n\r\nI dig deep and finally get enough umph to lift her onto all fours. By this time the grain is almost gone. I grab my wipes to clean her udders. Wipe. Kick. Another wipe. Kick. Finally, I\u2019m ready to start milking and get a squirt in the strip cup. Kick. I quickly realized that my nine-quart milking pail might have been ambitious. One teat at a time, I get a couple of squirts in the pail.\r\n\r\nRepeat. Times four.\r\n\r\nWhat would have taken an experienced goat and milker just a few minutes to accomplish, has taken me an hour. And I still need to clean up. It\u2019s time to head to the office, and I\u2019m sweaty and smell like a goat.\r\n\r\nI figure if I keep at it, things will fall into place.\r\n\r\nEach morning brings progress. And before I know it, we will find our rhythm and I\u2019ll get to spend my afternoon enjoying the fruits of my labor with a side of goat\u2019s milk cheese.\r\n\r\nUntil next time, Happy Homesteading!