Tuesday, July 18, 2017


May 2, 1961
     The baby goat died yesterday. The poor little thing, we hadn't even settled on a name for it. Kathryn thinks Pokie may not have had enough milk. She looks as if she has milk to spare, and now that she has no baby to nurse, Dr Kearns says she will need milking for some time to come. I haven't been able to round up a volunteer for this job, so I know what that means. I haven't the faintest idea how to go about milking a goat, but in a few minutes I'll put on my foul weather gear (it's pouring out) and see what I can do.
Later:  I brought a pail to the barn, opened the door of Pokie’s stall, and ordered her to stand still. I don't know what gave me the idea she had started taking orders. I kept trying to set the pail down in the appropriate location, but once she discovered there was nothing edible in it, she simply wouldn’t cooperate. Never mind, I thought, the important thing is to relieve poor Pokie. I'll just let her milk squirt on the floor.
     When I made a pass at her dairy section you'd have thought she was being violated. Around and around the barn we went, with me insisting I was only trying to help her, and Pocohantas looking over her shoulder with an expression of shock and outrage.
     I decided I’d have to tie her. Unable to find a rope, I took a leather contrivance—a halter, maybe—and stuck Pokie's head through it. I fastened the straps to a post, said "Nice Pokie," and set the pail under her udder. She gave me a suspicious look, ducked out of the halter, and ran to the other end of the barn.
     "Okay, stupid, go ahead and suffer," I said, my patience at an end. I shoved her into the stall and went back to the house, thankful I hadn't married a farmer. I made some phone calls and found a milkmaid named Angie.
August 24, 1961
     When I got home from marketing yesterday, my visiting mother-in-law said, "There's something wrong with Pokie. She's been making a funny noise. I would have tried to milk her myself only I was afraid Heidi might nip me."
     I tried to reach Angie, but there was no answer. I decided to make another attempt myself. After watching the milkmaid in action, I had a better idea of the proper technique than I did a few weeks ago. First you have to catch your goat and tie her tightly to a tree. If she tries to get away when you start milking, you just hang on to her handles until she realizes she can't go anywhere without them.
     Pokie was jumpy and hard to manage at first. She was so distended, I suppose my ministrations were painful, but as we began to make progress, she quieted down.
     I sat in the rain pumping away at Pokie's faucets for over an hour, determined not to quit until she was drained. At one point I had the eerie feeling someone was standing behind me, watching me. I turned around and bumped noses with Heidi, who was breathing moistly down my neck and observing my labors with a curious eye.
     I appreciated Heidi's interest, but proud of my new talent, what I really longed for was the recognition of my fellow man. Ted came along, gave me a brief stare, shook his head, and drove on up to the house. Then Vonnie and some friends slowed to a stop in Ed's Buick and watched me from a distance.
     "Want to try it, Vonnie? It's easy!"
     She looked mortified. "No! I'd be too embarrassed."
     I got the attention of passers‑by, who slowed their cars and goggled at this eccentric matron, milking her goat in the rain. One driver must have turned around for a second look because I heard her say, "See, I told you she was milking it."
     Finally Mom drove in. I waved to her and hollered, "Look at me!" She clasped her hands over her head and called, “Good for you!" I can always count on Mom.


  1. Barbara. I just love the latest blog about the animals. It is great!!!! You are a remarkable writer and Mom. Like I have said before just knowing you I can picture you doing all these things. You made my day!!!!


  2. Thank you, Sandra! I get a huge kick out of your enthusiasm, so you just made my day, too!!!