Yesterday, last minute, H had to fly to Chicago for work. He called me at work to tell me, so I didn't get to say goodbye in person. I left work a little eary so that I could get home in time to call in for my 5pm conference call. My plan was to attend the call and then get to milking. I would be my first attempt, completely alone.
It did not go well. First, I had to move the latch on the milking stand as I'd set it too far apart to latch correctly. Then I put Sass up there and gave her the ration bucket. While she was munching away, I started milking. So far, so good. Then she dumped her bucket. I picked it up, reinstalled it and went to start milking again. She wasn't having any of it. She dumped the bucket again and when I ignored it, she kicked the milk bowl, spilling it all over the place. At that point, I gave up and let her down. I cleaned up, put the equipment away and called it a failure. I did not reward her with her favorite grape leaves and apples! I did give her a branch off a downed limb from one of our plum trees. She ate that and then happily munched on the plum. When she spit out the pit, she reached her lips to me for more and accidently hit the electric fence! I felt so awful...she ran away and just stood there looking at me. I felt like it was my fault, so I went into her paddock and spent some time with her. She seemed no worse for the wear (and she'll likely not taste yellow wire again anytime soon!).
This morning I was mentally prepared to win this milking battle. I went in armed with more ration to keep her busy longer. Unfortunately, that didn't work because she didn't eat it all anyway! When she got annoyed with my milking, she dumped her bucket. I picked it up for her...once. When she did it a second time, I realized that she'd figured out that if she dumped it, I'd stop milking. Smart girl. So I left it on the ground. She was struggling to get away, so I wrapped my right arm around her middle and held her carefully while I kept milking with my left hand. Eventually, she realized that she wasn't going to win, and she stopped struggling and began chewing her cud. When that happened, I let go of her and milked with two hands. I kept praising her the whole time. I have no idea if praising a goat does anything or not, but I figured if nothing else, my voice probably sounded happy and upbeat to her. She was rewarded with lots of scratching, grape leaves and apples. I was rewarded with almost 2 quarts of milk!
Today I ordered the cultures to make feta. Tonight, I'm going to give yogurt a try...we'll see. I'm not conviced that I'll be able to do this, but it's worth a shot, right? Now that I think about it, the yogurt might have to wait until the weekend when I've got more time. Though...I think the goal for this weekend needs to be to install fencing. I know that Sass is lonely and she needs a friend!