Glimmercroft - Milking Equipment

Laura Workman, Glimmercroft, Lynnwood, Washington

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To keep my milk clean and chill it as quickly as possible, I bring the strainer, clean jars, and ice water to the goat shed with me when I milk.  In the goat shed, I have a special fold-down shelf that I use only for holding the jars and milk pail.  I lay a clean paper towel on the shelf before I set my equipment on it.  Before milking, I wash and dry the udder, and discard the first few squirts of milk.  Then I milk out the doe.  When I'm finished, I leave the doe on the stand while I care for the milk.  I strain the milk into a clean jar and place the jar into the ice water to chill.  Then I go back to the doe on the stand, use teat dip if she's not nursing, release her, and go on to the next doe.

Here's my milk pail and strainer set up.  My milk pail is a two-quart seamless stainless steel double boiler pan I had, and the lid is your basic Revere Ware lid that I got at a thriftstore.  I brought the pan into the thrift store to find a lid that would fit properly.  The pan is about 7-and-a-half inches across, not including the handles, and about 4 inches high, not including the lid.

I should mention that I milk minis with this equipment. If you're milking standard goats, you may want a bigger pail. On the other hand, I also milked my standard Oberhasli with this setup. The pail holds two quarts, and I had to stop in the middle and empty the pail, then finish milking. Not a problem, though, as it gave my hands a needed rest!

I used my Dremel cutter to cut a half-moon chunk out of the lid, marking it first with a Sharpie, and deburring it afterward.  The hole is actually a fair bit smaller than the one in the Hoeggerís pail, which keeps the milk cleaner.  What youíre looking for in a stainless pan is stability, seamlessness, not too much height, and short handles.  I found a nice Farberware double boiler top in a thrift store for my friend, and it worked great, so you donít have to have exactly the same pan Iím using.
Iíve used this same Big Mouth brand funnel/strainer since I started milking in 1997 or 1998.  I think you can get them at Fred Meyer for $10 or $12, and here's a link for one online source:  The funnel is billed as a strainer for making yogurt cheese, which is why it has the indispensable snap-in strainer insert.  Also, the narrow end of the funnel fits nicely into a wide-mouth canning jar.
The insert isnít nearly as difficult to clean as it might seem.  I just use the soapy sponge on both sides, going both directions firmly, and then around the rim.  Takes 10 or 15 seconds.  I check the tiny end corners for sponge bits that might get caught there and knock them out with my fingernail if there are any.  Then rinse again, of course.  So far, after 8 or 9 years, no problems with flavor or keeping quality even though it's not stainless.
I use the Filter Clean 4-9/16Ē filters from Hoeggerís.  I tried some others, but they didnít flow as well.  The strainer insert snaps into the funnel, securely holding the filter in place.
You can see the strainer isnít very big.  Itís a good bit bigger than the small stainless strainer Hoeggerís sells, though.  I bought one of those and deem it pretty well useless.  The opening is just too small, the filters are a pain to install, straining takes forever, and it won't hold nearly as much milk at one time as the Big Mouth.
The strainer fits nicely INSIDE the milking pail.  This is a huge advantage, since it leaves a hand free.  The lid is positioned to protect the filter from contamination, like rain that might hit it on the way to the barn, for instance.  With this little package, I can grab a bucket of ice water, and then use a couple extra fingers for holding the pan and filter, leaving my other hand free for the pail of wash water and for opening gates.  This way, I only have to make one trip to the barn.
This is a 3-gallon bucket I picked up at the local supermarket bakery section, for free of course.  It nicely holds 2 half-gallon jars, ice and water.  If Iím only getting one half-gallon jar of milk, I use a 2-gallon bucket which is much lighter.  I quickly got tired of making mountains of ice cubes, so I started freezing plastic glasses of water.  I found Tupperware lasts much longer than other brands.  The others split after just a few trips into the freezer, where the Tupperware will last a few years.  I pick mine up at the thrift store.  So, I fill the bucket up with enough cold water that it will just cover the shoulders of the jars once the jars are full and the ice blocks are in the bucket.
This is a half-gallon jar of delicious, fresh goat milk, and a tupperware glass of ice, for size reference.

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This page updated April 21, 2006.

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