Because Milking Cows and Goats are like treadmills. . .

How many people do you know who buy a treadmill sure they will run on that treadmill daily, but actually end up using that treadmill as a coat rack until they sell it for 1/10th of what they paid on craigslist a year later?



Yea. A Lot of folks.

Unfortunately for dairy animals, this proves true all too often, as well.

The most OVER Romanticized ideal of life on a farm is that of morning and evening milking of one's dairy cow or goat.



Those who have been on the milking road five, ten or more years, we can still remember back when we wondered about throwing the towel in, rallied and push on.

It can be THAT tough.

Winters. Mud, Tendinitis. Bottles. Endless jars, hoses, buckets to clean over and over and over. Milk Fever. Mastitis. Stuck kids. Dead calves. Cystic cows. Skinny cows. Too much milk. Kicking Cows. Pooping cows. Anemic goats. Bloat. First Fresheners with tiny teats. Those back TWO TEATS on a cow. Frozen fingers. Bulls. Bucks. Rut. Pee-Pee beards. Spilling 5 gallons of milk after all that work. Losing Electric before you use the milking machine. Rushing home to milk from a family event. Having people ask. . .Why, Why, Why? 

Wait, I am just getting started above. 

No, I am not kidding.

Vacations with the whole family? What are those, anyway? I haven't had one in 6 years. 

Sure, it is true that most new small farmers last a short time in the farming / homesteading world, but the number that start into the dairy world and find it is not for them is much higher still.

The majority of people who start with dairy goats will sell out of production animals in 3 years. My guess is dairy cows have a similar statistic.

There is nothing requiring more commitment, more labor and fortitude that I can think of in farming life.

Beyond that, if you do not LOVE it from the start of the day to day process, it isn't likely to grow into something you love as time goes on. You are far more apt to hate it more as days pass.

This will tied you down more than triplet newborn human children ever could. It is like 2 sets of triplet toddlers that never grow up. Ever.


Most Newbies (including me back then) start with young animals not trained to milk. They do not realize what may lay in store when they teach that animal to hop up or into a stanchion while a person fumbles around with their teats and udder, trying to figure out just what hand motions actually make the milk come out effectively.

All newbies start with arms unused to milking, even if they are smart enough to start with a well trained goat or cow tolerant of the dingbat trying to figure out how this milking process works. Your arms will hurt, Your arms will cramp, your back will hurt. You will cry. You may be there two hours later still trying to figure it out because regardless of how you feel, that animal has to be milked. That is that.

Shoot, 6 years later, I still wake up with numb arms and fingers. 

If you start with a milking machine, you will feel like you are handling a $1,500 50 lb Steel Mad Octopus sucking up manure, mud, your hair and everything else before you actually master how that hot mess works.

You will want to slap your own face for the crazy decision to have a family milk cow when said cow attempts to break your arm instead of allowing you to sit idyllically on a stool gently hand milking while you and she are most comfortable into a bucket where all the milk stays wonderfully clean that first time and all times after.




We forget True Dairy animals are very selectively bred creatures. They do not happen in nature. They are require substantially more management than meat breeds of livestock.

The strain on the body of a dairy animal is 2 to 10 times what a beef animal will endure while raising a calf. They need more of everything, not just more time . They need more water, food, more mineral, more intervention at all turns.

Generally, it would be fair to say the easiest keeping dairy cow is far more labor intensive than the hardest keeping beef cow.

You are going to be milking 9-12 months each year. You are likely going to be milking day and night, at least for awhile. Sure, with time, you learn ways to schedule breedings, milkings and finagle it with dam raising to make it more manageable. I know I have done all types of things to make it work, but I still milk far more days each year often than I do not.

When I'm sick with a stomach virus, vomiting with body aches and chills, when it is -5 degrees in the barn with a foot of snow. . . .  guess who is still milking?





"Tinia Creamer," you might think. . ."You, Missy, are just too harsh!"



But I'm not. I'm giving you the stark picture. The Truth of it.

I've stuck this out a decent amount of time now. 6 years. I loved it in the beginning, though it scared me too death. I love it now. I have loved it during the in between, but there were times then and there will be times ahead. . .where I have laid in the mud, cried and wondered where I might check in for a lobotomy, have no doubt.

My last name is Creamer. 

What can I say. How could I get away from it?

No matter how I fight it, this dairy deal seems like destiny. It seems to have that recipe everything in my life has to have to hold my interest:
A bit of tragedy 
An never ending Journey
Sprinkled over the top with numerous soul satisfying "epiphany" moments

So this path gives me what I need to feel I'm accomplishing something worth while.



Holding lovely new born goat kids and calves, cow kisses, pee-pee beards (I know), alien goat eyes, those sand-paper cow tongues, goats running to you when they see it is milking time, the joy of a quality food product in your fridge where you know each element of the production and not only the animal who gave the milk. . .but her dam and sire, the quiet moments where you can do the best of thinking milking your cow who decided to behave, working to improve the genetics you have in these animals, seeing others start and succeed with animals from your farm, those arms you can only get from hand milking and people asking you. . ."Wow, you must do Crossfit" when you answer "Cowfit, actually."

Sure, it is just a milk cow, a dairy goat. . .we are just making milk, the lot of us, together, and somehow, it makes the most wonderful Journey I've been on during my time in the farming world.

It Seemed so simple on the outside when you were first peaking in, didn't it?