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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Muttering, murmuring, and complaining

A year or so ago, someone at church gave a talk about "murmuring" and gossiping.  He pointed out that we should not murmur and mutter, as the Israelites did, and gave some ideas about how to turn the conversation if someone is gossiping or complaining (murmuring) about someone else.  I listened and determined that I would do better, and for a while I focused on looking for the positive.  Eventually, though I thought of it occasionally, my focus went elsewhere.  Just a few weeks ago, though, I came across a YouTube video about "A Complaint-Free Revolution".  What a great set of videos!  I went to the website, where they present a 21-day challenge--no murmuring or complaining for 21 days straight.  Always ready for a challenge, and always willing to improve myself, I decided to take the challenge.  That was 2 or 3 weeks ago.  So far, I've only made it through 1 full day without complaining, and I blew it the next day. 

Do you know how easy it is to murmur and complain?  I'd never realized how easy it is to fall into that trap, and how much I'd let myself wander there.  On, you can buy flexible plastic bracelets to remind yourself not to blow it again.  The idea is, that each time you see the bracelet, you'll be reminded.  I dn't have a bracelet, so I just put a scrunchie or other hair tie around my wrist, and when I complain or murmur, I switch it from one wrist to the other.  Many days I make it until 8:00 or 9:00 at night, and then I slip and have to start all over again.  Hmmm.  Could it be that when I'm tired, I'm more prone to complaining?  Now there's a thought!

I've discovered is that it's not always clear to me whether I'm complaining or not.  For example, this morning I backed my truck out of the driveway and didn't turn sharply enough. Yesterday's snowstorm and subsequent plowiing had left a few sizeable snow banks on our private road, and I went just far enough to catch one of my back wheels in the outside of one.  I exclaimed, "Oh, crap!  That was pretty dumb!"  Is that a complaint?  I got out of the truck, dug out the wheel, put down a little sand, and off I went, wondering if I needed to start over again. 

Another thing I realized is that those imaginary conversations I have--you know the kind, where you're thinking of someone that you have a (ahem) difficult relationship with--often are about disagreements.  Whew!  That must be the muttering part of murmuring and muttering!  Or is it?  Perhaps it's just planning the conversation when you see that person?  Or is that justification?  I'm coming to the conclusion that the more I keep my mouth shut, even when I'm alone (or perhaps especially when I'm alone), the better off I'll be.  There are some great URLs that discuss the topic, which is preached against in many scriptures.  One particularly cogent article, which I came across this morning, is called "The Sin of Murmuring".  Another is "Grumbling, Murmuring, Complaining". They helped clarify the truck incident, for example. 

Ah!  We are all too human, and truly "the natural man is an enemy to God".  Tonight when I go to bed, I'm going to have had a complaint-free day, and tomorrow I will start Day 2. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Milking Made Easy

I'm now finishing my second week with the Henry Milker, and the more I use it, the better I like it.  If I'm in a hurry, I still hand milk, because it's faster, but I've found there are certain advantages to using the milker--over an above saving my hands, that is.  I can go off and check commotions in other parts of the barn, usually caused by my rambunctious Fox Terrier terrorizing the escaped bantams; or I can fill water buckets, checking the pressure on the milker every couple of minutes.  I've even done a quick cleanup of horse poop in the center aisle of the walk-in portion of the barn, fed the geese, and collected eggs, all while the Henry Milker was doing its job and my doe was placidly munching her grain.

Using the milker couldn't be easier, and I'm appreciating the large teat cup for its comfort to my doe, while still maintaining enough suction for the milker to work.  The teat cup is much larger than the "large" size that I got with the Maggidan's, and I was concerned that it would be too big. Not so!  And I think Beatrice appreciates not having her teats squished inside a smaller syringe.  Since I consulted with Mike Henry, I've upped the vacuum pressure that I use.  It's still not quite up to 10 lbs, but higher than I had it before, and instead of a steady trickle, the milk is now delivered in a rushing stream.

The process is shown below.  Just click on the photos to see them full size.  Altogether, so far I'm very happy with the Henry Milker.

Beatrice before milking. Her udder is fairly full.

Attaching the teat cup to the right teat. 

Starting the flow. The pressure is around 6 or 7 lbs and it's already flowing nicely into the half-gallon Mason jar.

The Henry Milker keeps working and I can go water the geese.

There's always an audience.  "Whattadaya doin?  Can I watch?"

Time to switch teats, and only 3 minutes have passed.

Empty udder.

"Are we done yet?  My grain is gone."  Beatrice is ready to get down.

The jar on the right contains the strippings, less than a cup, while the milking jar contains a little over 5 cups.

3 lbs 4 oz, most of it easily extracted by the Henry Milker

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hay feeders at last!

Beatrice and Sanuba at the stall feeder
 I finally got around to making feeders a few weeks ago.  Why I put it off for so long, I'll never know.  Previously, I was feeding hay with haynets, and I'd untangled goat heads and legs a couple of times.  The possibilities for problems seemed to be lurking just around the corner.  What a difference it's made!  Hay waste has gone waaaay down, and stress levels among the four goats seem to have waned as well.  The stall feeder is straight up and down, while the walk-in feeder (they can come and go from outside to barn) is slanted.  I really haven't seen a great deal of difference in waste between the two of them.  Since there's plenty of room for each goat to get to the feeders, they aren't trying to chase each other off nearly as often.
The things you can make out of spare pallets!  Life is good.
Walk-in feeder, front view


Walk-in feeder, side view

Henry Milker: First Impressions

I got my new Henry Milker a few days ago.  I've used it several times now, so here are my first impressions.

It's a lot slower than hand milking. Even with hands that hurt while I milk, I can still milk out my doe in 4-5 minutes.  The Henry Milker takes 8-12 minutes, mainly because I can only milk one side at a time.  On a few occasions, I've used the milker on one side while hand milking the other.   That still gives my hands a rest.

That's actually the biggest downside to this milker.  There's plenty to like.  For one thing, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it gets out most of the milk, so that when I hand strip, I'm looking at 1/4 to 1/2 cup in total.  That's a big improvement over the Maggidan's milker I tried last year, and the self-built unit I tried before that.  With both of those, I had to hand milk a good half and more, since the milkers consistently left that much in the goat's udder.  To be fair, Maggidan's advertises their milker for mini's, and maybe it works great for them. It doesn't work well on a full sized goat like a Saanen.

The Henry Milker has a great pump, and I love the gauge that lets you know exactly how much vacuum pressure is on the teat.  I've been using between 5 and 7 pounds of pressure, and that puts a steady stream into the jar.  Two quart jars are provided.  One was broken on arrival, but my one doe in milk, Beatrice, produces around 6 cups per milking at the moment, and that will increase with lengthening days, so I use a half-gallon Mason jar.

The first few milkings, I put the milk through a filter anyway, just to see if it was really as clean as advertised.  It is, but I still use a filter for the strippings. That's hardly a problem, though, since we're only talking a small amount.

What I'd love to see is a Y for the tubing so I can attach a tube and teat cup to each teat and finish the milking in half the time--or the approximate time it takes me to hand milk.  I'm not sure that would work, but I may experiment.

The tubing is very easy to clean; the tiny brushes provided cut way back on the possibility of tiny bits of milk calcifying in the tubing.  The only difficulty I've had is getting the tubing off the pump--it just doesn't want to let go!  Cleanup is fast and easy, a real plus.

I'll continue using the Henry Milker over the next 2 weeks of my trial period.  If nothing untoward occurs with it, I'll most likely keep it.  Even if it's slower, it sure does give my hands a rest.  That in itself makes the Henry Milker worth every penny of its purchase price..

Oh, and did I mention that Mike Henry is very quick about answering questions and lending support by email?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tis the Season

Emily is just getting over her heat, having spent a delightful two days with Reverend Lee, and Leah is relaxing after putting up with Emily and Reverend Lee.  Emily has scurs, and though they weren't very big, they're definitely off now.  She butted heads with the buck, she butted heads with Leah, and I think she would have butted heads with herself if she'd known how.  She definitely let me know that it was time, and "I know exactly where that buck is, so don't try to hide him on me!"  I hope this time she settles.
Leah and Reverend Lee
No more tail wagging or plaintive cries from either doe, but Beatrice is very unhappy. Beatrice is in heat, complaining loudly because she has been separated in no uncertain terms from the buck.  Sanuba seems to have no interest whatsoever.  I hope that means she's bred, but having been fooled last year, I'm by no means certain.
My new Henry Milker has been shipped.  I've tried other milkers, with little success.  Check back to see my report on it.  I'm very hopeful, as my hands are pretty sore sometimes from arthritis.  I'll need to be improving my diet this year--getting back on mostly raw, alkalizing my body--but in the meantime, once my other does freshen, I'll need any help I can get!