Thursday, February 25, 2010

Milking Sheep

I love this time of year. Just when I think I can't stand anymore cold or anymore snow, and for the record I can't, just when I feel like the walls are closing in, the babies start coming. In the past few weeks we have had four new kids, two lambs, and two chicks born, or hatched as the case may be. New baby animals do require some time and work, but it is all so exciting, and they are so cute that they just chase the winter blahs away. The last births were just Tuesday morning. Two male lambs:

The one is slightly smaller than the other, but they both seem to be doing very well. Just one problem. One side of the mama's udder was clogged and we didn't realize it at first. Since the lambs weren't getting milk on that side they stopped trying there.

Last night when that side of the udder and teat were noticeable swollen, Tim milked her and eventually cleared the clog. We tried to encourage the lambs to nurse there, but they still fight over the other teat. This afternoon that side was swollen again. We want to keep milk flowing there to help avoid mastitis and to keep both sides producing for when these guys are a little bigger and will need more milk, so Tim milked her again. This time though we kept the milk.

Sheep milk may seem odd to most Americans, but world wide sheep milk is a common thing. See Dairy Sheep for more information. This milk was thick. It looks like eggnog in color and consistency. I wasn't sure what to expect. I kind of expected a mutton-y taste, but I was wrong. It did not have a strong flavor at all. I can't say that I really liked it, but I didn't dislike it either. I am not a big milk drinker anyway, so that may be part of the problem.The kids liked it.

So, I've been toying with the idea of a dairy animal, likely a goat, for some time. The kids are all for it, well all for the drinking of it any way. They aren't too thrilled about the work involved. One of the biggest reasons we do not have a dairy goat is because of the commitment. When you are milking, you are committed to milking once or twice a day for months. The other problem when considering a dairy animal is that we really don't have a good place set up to milk.

So at dinner last night, after tasting the sheep milk, the kids started asking me if we were going to milk all the time. We talked about the problems we would have to solve, and I told them to come up with a plan for where to milk and we would be that much closer to having a dairy animal. They believed me.

Here is Lydia's plan:

Her plan for "daree guote" includes the kids (us) in the barn with the goat (g). Notice the udder and the child on the stool with the bucket full of milk.

Kellen's plan:

Kellen's plan involves building a stall for the animal. It would stand in the center block here. The left panel of the stall would have a door that opens to slide in a bucket of feed. Then you would slide a panel in front of the animal. The panel is adjustable for size as shown by the three small rectangles in the panel. The right panel of the stall has a small door so you can reach in to milk, because you wouldn't want to be in the stall with the animal would you?

Not so sure that either of these plans are exactly what we need, but I certainly do appreciate the effort, thought and creativity put into both of them. For right now though, I think I let the baby animals do the milking.


  1. awwh. baby lambs. I remember those days. we used to lamb out about 600. i was the night "man" don't miss that. We had our first calf yesterday. Cute but the momma is a little crazy! I am the night "man" for the heifers too. No chicks or kids tho! Good luck with the milk cow idea.

  2. Kristen Fry2/25/10, 1:28 PM

    I just might have some young dairy goats for sale soon ;-)

  3. cute lambies..

    say, you could make fresh goat cheese with goats milk. :) yum!

  4. Cattle Call Farm2/26/10, 6:15 AM

    Love the plans, great to see you all work together.Can't wait to see what you come up with. Cute lambs.

  5. Thanks for the nice blog. This is very useful and interesting.I read this and my self very appreciate with this blog. Thanks a lot...

  6. Thanks for the photos. We had two kids in Jan

    I'm now waiting for my about-to-pop goat to deliver. (I'm actually getting a little concerned). Our neighbors have sheep. We are serious considering getting a few.

    LOVE spring!

  7. What sweet little lambs!