Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

An Udderly Fantastic Solution to a Hairy Problem!

Dear Siobhan has a hairy udder.  When I started milking in August, the hair didn't interfere with me milking her.  Then Siobhan grew a winter coat--and her udder did, too!

Now that's a hairy problem!  It was impossible to avoid grabbing hair with a teat, and no matter how I placed my hands, I was pulling her hair as I milked.  I had an old shaver for putting bridle paths on my horses, but when I tried it out, it had died.

 So I went shopping at my favorite place, Amazon.  There were lots of models available.  After ruling out the super expensive ones and reading the reviews of the others, I opted for this one.  I found cheaper ones (one with no reviews at all and one with one 1-star review).  This model seemed the best bet with four stars after over 500 reviews.
Here's what I love about it:

  • The price, about $50.
  • It can be used cordless or with a cord.
  • It's quiet.
  • It's lightweight.
  • It comes with lots of combs and an instruction video, so I can use it for our long-haired dogs if I choose to.
  • It has a handy carrying case for the whole kit and caboodle.
  • It's a Wahl, a brand I know to be a good one.

To remind you, this is my hairy problem.  Now let's see how the Wahl performed and how Siobhan handled being shaved . . .

Both handled everything like pros!  I turned the shaver on and laid it, gently buzzing, against Siobhan's flank.  She just kept scarfing her food without flinching, so I dove right in.  The shaver handled the long coarse hair of her udder just fine.  I had no problem with it creating bald spots, which I really appreciated since I don't want her udder to be freezing!  It is SO much easier to milk without yanking on hair!  And now when I apply Bag Balm, it will be getting on the skin of the udder and teats instead of on all that long hair.

After we milked, Siobhan got reacquainted with the hay net today, and Macree encountered it for the first time.  They both went to town on the hay net instead of the manger you can see on the other side of the corral panel.  I've decided to keep the girls up at the barn for a while and milk every day.  Keeping them here is a little more work in one way because I'll have to carry more hay and clean up some manure, but it's quicker in the long run than making four trips to the pasture for every time I milk.

Incidentally, here you can see one useful thing about the way we've set up our barnyard.  The gate that swung itself over to shut Siobhan in with the hay net also swings the other way to close off the milking parlor.  We initially installed it as a way to separate baby Siobhan from her protective mama Sara.  If I choose to, I can shut both Siobhan and Macree in with the hay net while I clean out the milking parlor and stanchion since they both try to come back in and get more to eat!

I left the girls in the barnyard for the first time instead of walking them back to the pasture, and they were saying, "We are not amused."  They weren't sure about this new change (and Siobhan protested vocally again today for a while), but they'll soon get used to the new normal.

Back at the house I set up to "process" my milk.  From the left:
  • The stainless milking bucket on the kitchen scale to weigh Siobhan's production.
  • A sterilized glass jar with my new stainless funnel in place.
  • The box of milk filters.
  • The stainless milk strainer/funnel on a measuring cup to measure the milk in quarts/cups.
I've recently started weighing our milk.  I've jotted the weight of the empty bucket on a Post-It inside a cabinet door so I can easily determine how many pounds of milk I get at a time.

The reason dairies do this is because weight is more accurate than measurement by volume.  There's a certain subjectivity to judging when the milk has reached a certain level on a measuring container; the scale is completely objective.
 Up until now I have double-strained the milk because of the amount of hair I was getting.  From now on, I won't feel a need to do that.  I'm happy using this new stainless funnel dedicated solely for milk and sterilized in the dishwasher after each use  The old plastic funnel is back in the utensil drawer, ready to be used with a multitude of substances--which I no longer risk transferring to my milk.
This special milking funnel/strainer is very useful.  I put the filter in first and push the strainer circle down to hold the filter in place.  When pouring milk from a large bucket, it's much easier to aim it into this than it would be into a small funnel.  This also makes sure ALL the milk goes through the filter.  I don't have to keep measuring it in cups and quarts, but I like to, even though this makes an extra step.

I usually pour only 3 cups at a time into the glass measuring cup; any fuller and the measuring cup tends to not pour correctly, spilling some of my precious milk.  While I'm transferring the first 3 cups of milk into the bottle, I place my strainer into the bucket rather than laying it on the counter.  This is just one more precaution to make sure my milk equipment is as clean as possible.

This is the end result of all that's gone before, and it's worth every bit of the work!

My udderly fantastic, fresh Dexter milk!


  1. I know its a lot work to get a gallon of milk, but I know its worth it. Good post Susan.

    1. SOOO worth it, Gordon! Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Great idea! Hair today, gone tomorrow. . . . or will it grow back before spring?

    1. Barbara, I'm sure it will grow back by spring, but hopefully not too much sooner! Hey, I'll come to you next time I can't think of a post title!


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