Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Buxom Does Really Get My Goat!

I woke up at 4:00 this morning, grabbed a hunk of (delicious garlic rosemary) bread, put some muesli in a cup with some rice milk, and ran out the door. I drove past the exit where I was supposed to get off the highway and ended up being a half hour late for my second day of work at Fern's Edge Goat Dairy.

Goats. Where do I begin? My first glimpse of them was yesterday when I came in (right on time) to the milking room and was faced with six goat asses, dangling udders, teats being sucked into pulsating vacuum tubes, milk flowing into a tank. Somehow this didn't phase me, and I learned right quick how to clean, strip (get the juices flowing), and insert the teat into the tube. It's not a very complicated process, and although it's only about 80 goats that get milked (of 200 on the property), it's a very factory-like process. I suppose that's what happens when you mechanize. My prior farm experience involved nothing more mechanical than an auger I used to drill post holes. This is high-tech modernity!

I don't know if you know this, or want to, but teats are far out! Have you ever looked at 80 different sets of teats before? Probably not. They're like snowflakes, but more squeezable. Some of them are large and dangly. Others are small. Some are wrinkly. I think I must have very wide palms because I can only use two or three fingers to squeeze an average sized teat or I spray milk all over my hand. Some teats are in just the right place, and others you might have to search for and pull back a little bit. I don't know how the goats feel about this; they have their heads stuck between metal bars, munching away on grain and kelp powder or trying to bite their neighbor's ear.

The morning shift takes between five and six hours, and involves feeding the multiple pens, milking two sets of goats, twelve at a time, and then feeding all the goats and the cows. It's crazy how fast time passes when you get to work two hours before the sun. I still have most of the day ahead of me. I don't really have any gripes about this job, especially since I got rubber boots. I just gotta go to bed early. Well, my hands smell like goats right now, which is a strange combination of raw milk, hay, and ammonia. You have to deal with a lot of goat shit, which is a small step away from dirt. Also, goats use urine as a sign of posession. I haven't been peed on yet.

It's a relief to know that somebody needs my work in exchange for their money (and they really need me-- very short staffed-- though the pay's not great), and I'm looking forward to hearing the same thing from the U of O (if you take out the "of" it's just You Owe...) pretty soon. I'm pretty sure they're gonna want me.

Goat pictures coming soon.

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