What Is In A Dairy Room?

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My first dairy “room” was very simple.  I brought the goat up on my front porch, tied her in a corner with a dish of grain, sat on a footstool and milked into a stainless steel bowl.  In the kitchen, I filtered it through a clean washrag and put it into whatever clean jars I could find.

I would never suggest that this is an efficient way to milk, but I am sure that it was a lot more comfortable than our ancestors had to work with.  And I was grateful at the time.  But I expanded my requirements when I had more than one goat to milk.

The last couple of weeks I have been getting my old dairy room ready to receive the girls again.  It had been relegated to storage for the last few years so all that had to be cleaned out.  I am going to have to get better at before and after pictures, but imagine buckets, tools, tarps, a replacement toilet, junk, and other stuff piled about chest high.  I had to step over tools and rusty screws and nails to get into the room.

This room is 8 foot by 10 foot.  And in its heyday we moved 11 goats through it twice a day and milking each by hand. I am going to be milking 5 so I know that I need this room ready soon.

After cleaning out the junk, my daughter and I scrubbed everything.  We took out the appliances and cleaned under and behind them and then we painted.  The walls and ceiling are semi-gloss white.  This is to reflect light and make the room brighter.  And gloss or semi-gloss is easier to clean than flat paint.  I have one window, but it faces north and with battery powered lights, every little bit of reflection helps.

Next the floor was painted with rubberized deck paint.  We chose an emerald green.  I will be using this at least 12 inches up the wall.  The reason for this is that when the room is scrubbed down or there is a spill…..which is more frequently than I like to admit, the floor will not soak up the water or milk.  It will not be slippery when wet.  And it is designed for heavy use.  This is new to me.  I have never had the opportunity to do that before.  In the past the plywood floor got saturated and slippery for days after a wash-down.  And when the goats jumped up on the stand with wet feet they sometimes slid making them a little less eager to jump the next time.

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My milking stand is painted with the deck paint too.  This is made a little lower than a standard chair.  Goats easily jump up on it and for me sitting with the legs down is a lot easier than squatting.  My stand has the availability to hold 3 goats at a time.  It has been my experience that I can milk faster than my goats can eat so rather than stand and wait, I let the next goat in and milk her.  Then if there are two of us milking, as when my kids were here, they rotated through easily enough.  One of my favorite tricks here is the use of a piece of plywood covered with a carpet sample.  Goat feet on the milking stand can be dirty and this saves the seat of my pants from picking that up.

Now to supply the room for efficiency.

I have an old fashioned porcelain kitchen sink along one wall.  It has the draining sides and the center sink.  I love it.  Cleans easily and spills go right down the drain.  Under the sink are my 5 gallon propane hot water heater and an RV sized refrigerator.  I don’t have to haul my stuff back and forth from the house to clean and that is a blessing.  And I don’t have to fill my house refrigerator with milk.

Beside the sink is a 35 gallon barrel on its side with a hole in the “top.”  I like this setup.  Goats can digest whole grains so I mix my own corn, oats, and barley….and the circular “bottom” makes stirring easy.  I made a wooden lid with handles that cover the hole so I do not get mice in the feed.  My scoop is an old heavy plastic orange juice bottle cut to the size that suits me.  I mark the sides with a permanent marker for half a scoop so I can easily see the measurements and adjust the feed according to the goat’s production.

Next is the milking pail.  As I look for pails online or in catalogs, most of them are built for cows and those do not fit under a goat.  I have found the best selection and chance for not buying something you cannot use is to go to goat supply sources.   My favorite milk pail came with a crescent shaped lid.  I never found the lid to be beneficial because I cleaned the bottom of the goat before milking and almost never got stuff in the milk.  And missing a smaller hole makes a mess.

My favorite strainer is a big stainless one built for at least a gallon going through it at a time.  I have had some excellent producers and I found that to be efficient enough to warrant the expense.  And there are milk filters that are made to fit so I don’t have to mess around with that either.  When I had fewer goats, the smaller aluminum filter seemed to make sense, but it is more labor even then. Pour a little, wait a little, pour a little, and repeat.  You get the idea. And I have developed a thing against aluminum.

I have a scale in my dairy room for weighing the milk that each doe produces.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  I can readily see who my best milkers are, I can see if they are rapidly decreasing due to an illness, and I can prove to a potential buyer what this goat produces.  But for starters, this is not a necessity.  I went years without one.  If you do want to keep records, take note of my clipboard.  I have two pieces of heavy gauge plastic over the pages.  The big one covers the whole page in case of a spill or splatter.  The smaller one goes under the line that I am filling out because it is frequent that milk gets on my hands and it is not easy to write on wet paper.

I put most of my milk into half gallon jars.  This is easier than messing with the smaller jars, especially with a family.  If I am going to make cheese I pour the milk directly into a 5 gallon stainless pan with a special hole in the lid of that just fits the strainer.  That easily goes right into the house to the stove-top for processing.

I put the milk in the little refrigerator.  Then wash everything up, set it in the dish strainer, and cover with a dishcloth.  At that point everything is ready for the next milking.  Take a cold jar of milk into the house and enjoy.

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That is the foundation of my dairy room.  I know that this is not what a person would have to have in order to sell milk to the public.  That is way out of my knowledge base, although I did the research thinking that I may do that.  There are a lot of hoops to jump through and it would have cost me more money than I would have made back in 20 years so I dropped that line of inquiry.  To get the legal details, you would have to go through your county and state health department regulations.  So this post is just about a basic home dairy room for supplying food for your family.

As you can tell in the pictures, I am using quart jars and I’m filtering the milk in the kitchen.  Right now the appliances have not been replaced yet.  I have a water leak to fix then all that goes back together.  But I am milking now!  Hooray!!  Of course there are lots of other little things that I have in this room to make life easier, but that is a subject for another day.

For those of you who have milked goats, is there something essential that I missed?  Or do you have any questions?  I would love to hear from you.

PS….Dozer has made himself at home.  See him outside the window?

About Janolyn

I am a mother of 5 wonderful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. During the years that my children were growing up, we grew most of our own food with a vegetable garden, many fruit trees and berry patches. I grew flowers for joy. We milked goats and raised our own meats and eggs. I learned to make my own cheeses, butter, canned foods, sourdough, and fermented foods. I made our own health products like soap, hand creams, lip balm, and herbal tinctures. We live off the power grid and have learned to do without conveniences that most Americans consider essential. The land clearing and building has been mostly accomplished with hand tools; some of them even the right tool for the job. After a couple of miscarriages between #2 and #3 due to “standard medical procedures”, I consulted a midwife and my last 3 children were born safely at home. That was when I was first alerted to the fact that doctors did not know everything nor would they have the time to share it with their patients if they did. As I learned the basic principles of heath-through-nutrition from my midwife, I learned alternative gardening practices from her husband. That introduction started a lifelong love of learning the practical life of our ancestors. I want to share what I have been learning with you and learn from those who are also living a sustainable life.

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