Today was the first day of the new milking season. As usual, the elders were less confused than the new mothers, though even they needed remediation on hopping up on the stand and getting back to home base. We left the kids in the stalls today; there are so many, and we prefer to wean them in steps; first a half-day for awhile, then completely. The poor things were beside themselves when I arrived, and the does were lined up at the gate like kindergarten mothers at the bus-stop. The newest does (first time mothers) needed to be taught how to jump on the milking stand; after a day or two they'll be old pros.
I love milking time. There's something so calming about the process. The does love coming in for the feed, and the private time I give them. I love their smell, and their warm breathing bodies calmly munching the coveted grain as I milk them. Now that we milk so many, we use a machine, but I finish each one by hand, and massage them as they're being milked to promote a relaxed flow. When they leave, they're usually calm and ready for bed; they put me at peace as well.
This is my second year with this herd. We have had our losses (Bisque passed this year, as did two newborn kids and one sweet bottle-fed kid, named "Ellen", a favorite of Miss M., the Child Goat Whisperer), and so many new births; the cycle continues, and I am a facilitator, a cog in the wheel. It's a beautiful thing. I am privileged to be a part of their world. No one is as lucky as me.