Milking and Markets

You know, keeping up with a blog is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I have a lot of ideas for future blog posts, but I don’t take the time to actually put pen to paper—or rather, fingers to keyboard. When I’m not working, I want to spend my free time hanging out with the other interns or reading a book (now that I finally have down time to just read) or taking a nap after a long shift.

So, that being said, here’s a brief recap of some of the things I’ve been up to.

 The Market

Our stand at the market, and yes, we need a new canopy.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’d be going to the farmers market to sell our milk. 3 market weekends later, I feel like a seasoned pro. We pack up the van the night before and leave around 7:30 in the morning. There are two of us that go to two different markets—West Seattle and Ballard. We drive to Ballard, drop off whoever is selling at Ballard, unload the van, then keep going to West Seattle and start unloading and setting up there.

The main thing we sell is raw goats milk. At first I was little thrown off by the word “raw” (although I do love me some raw cookie dough), but it’s actually really good for you. The PH level is closer to human’s milk and the fat globules are a lot smaller than cows milk, so it’s a lot easier to digest. People who have a lactose allergy can usually drink goats milk instead without any problems. One woman grew up drinking raw goats milk and is still drinking it 50 years later, and she attributes her lack of any health problems to the goats milk.

We also sell duck and chicken eggs at the West Seattle market. People line up before we open, waiting to buy duck eggs. We don’t have too many duck eggs right now, so we can sell out of those in 10 minutes.

Market culture is so much fun to be a part of. I always love going to farmers markets in Des Moines, and it’s cool to see the other side of it. People get their early to unload vans and set up their stands, sometimes getting there extra early to unload and arrange produce. It feels like we’re all in this together as we wait for market to officially start so we can start selling. It’s a really supportive, friendly environment, and I love having a role in it.

Becoming a Milkmaid

Also since last updating, I’ve been trained on milking the goats. It’s actually a pretty boring thing to explain. We get six goats and line them up on the stanchion. Each girl gets some grain, which keeps her attention while we milk her. Then we wipe down and dry the udders before attaching the “claws” (basically a suction tube) to the teats. The claws do most of the work, and we just help squeeze out the last of the milk.

This is when I get to really know the goats and their personalities. Some are gluttons, some are instigators and head-butters, some will run with you like a dog, and some have a cute overbite (looking at you, Wilma).

It’s pretty satisfying to milk a goat. Their udders start out huge and really full, and end up shriveled  and wrinkly. I know this sounds kind of gross, but when you’re all up in the goats’ business for a few hours a day, it becomes normal.

I love that I get to have a hand in this aspect of farm work. The goats milk is a core part of the farm, and milking lets me directly take part in getting milk from goat to customer.

A New Normal

Before I left for the farm, I was really worried that I was going to hate it. But even if I hated it and wanted to come home, I told myself that I had to stay for at least two weeks before I could consider leaving.

Three weeks into this adventure, I can’t imagine going home now.

It’s crazy how fast something—even something as crazy as a goat farm—can become so normal. I love my routine of eating a bagel before milking or chores, I love my little cabin, and I love waking up to the occasional goat scream.

I keep thinking to myself how outside of normal this is for me. I don’t usually spend most of my days outdoors, and I certainly don’t spend them doing manual labor for 6 hours. But this has just shown me how adaptable I can really be, and how getting outside my comfort zone can open doors to things I never would have experienced otherwise.

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