Samanthawise Gamgee, Goat Dairy Intern: A Day in the Life

Hello! Sam popping in randomly again! There was a favorable response to my suggestion of doing a day-in-the-life post, so I'm here to deliver. I had an absurd amount of fun taking pictures and documenting the day (which happened to be exactly a week ago, Friday, June 17), and I'm excited to share it with you! One thing about it being Friday: usually, I sleep over on the farm, but on Fridays my parents pick me up for my weekend off, so that's why I don't show a nighttime routine of any kind. :)

 Fair warning: this post is LONG (although much of the length is in pictures, not words, so it shouldn't take too long to read).

5:45 AM: I technically set an alarm for 5:30, but I didn't hear it go off. My 5:45 alarm yanks me ignominiously from my sleep. I reluctantly hop out of bed and pull on my "work uniform", while reciting St. Patrick's Breastplate.

5:51 AM: In my "work uniform" (jeans, boots, a flannel over a t-shirt) and ready to go. 

5:55 AM: Having ascended to the crew room, I sit and read my current book for a few minutes before I have to go on duty. 

6 AM: I descend the stairs to my doom milking prep work. I'm on the milking shift this morning with M1, the owner of the farm. I'm sanitizing the pouring side this morning while M1 sanitizes and preps the milking side. This is the pour room before I begin.

6:01-6:14 AM: I fill the sink with bleach water and sanitize funnels, pouring towers, spouts, lids, and milk pots. I have a system for milk-pot sanitizing which involves having two ready to go out the door and two drying at any given time.

6:18 AM: The milk pots are ready to be taken to the milk room, where they'll be switched out for the pots that were used to sanitize the machines. (Those pots are only used for sanitizing.)

6:20 AM: Ophelia the cat is very concerned that I'm not bringing the milk pots in correctly. As shift supervisor, it's her job to keep us on task. 

6:27 AM: The milkroom is ready for goats.

6:31 AM: I cry havok and release the goats of war first round of milkers through this gate. I have no pictures of the chaotic event itself, because it requires both arms and a leg to make sure not all the milkers get out.

6:33 AM: The first round of milkers is hopelessly jumbled up, and...

...Miss Penny is eating Ophelia's food. This is a daily occurrence. Could. You. Just. Stay. Where. You. Belong. And. Eat. Alfalfa? I guess not.

6:39 AM: The milkers have been "set" in their headlocks and are awaiting being milked. Chaos has been tamed, momentarily. (Ish. They're goats, after all.)

6:39 AM: Zelie invades the milkroom. (Yes, she is named after St. Zelie Martin. Guess who did that.)

6:40 AM: Washing udders. Fun times. 

6:50 AM: They've all been washed, M1 has stripped out the first milk (my right wrist is hurting from overuse, and so I'm only allowed to strip once per round, we'll get to that in a minute), and I'm testing the goats who have been marked as potentially having mastitis. We mix a bit of their milk with a California Mastitis Test, and if it gets all coagulated, they have a high Somatic Cell Count, and we have to feed their milk to the bottle babies, instead of humans. 

6:52 AM: We dip their udders in Hydrogen Peroxide, and then dry them.

6:54 AM: We hook them up to the milking machines! There are ten hookups total, and about thirty goats, so it takes a bit of time. Each goat's teats are dipped in an iodine solution after being unhooked, so that they don't pass mastitis to each other. 

7:04 AM: The rest of the dam raised kid gang invades.

7:05 AM: We hook each goat up a second time, pulling down on the inflations to get any extra milk that has let down since the first hook up. The goat with the blue stripes on her butt and udder is Yuki, Loki's mom. This will become important later. 

7:13 AM: M1 strips out each goat once, and then I go along doing second strips to get out the last squirts of milk. I mostly use my left hand, so I don't hurt my right wrist.

7:22 AM: Twinings and her daughter Tazo invade the milkroom. Twinings has a twisted neck, which doesn't seem to slow her down much...she's one of the smartest goats on the farm, too. (She wasn't bred intentionally, because who in their right mind would, but she got pregnant when one of the bucks got out.)

7:24 AM: We put iodine on the end of each goat's teats, as well as essential oils on the udders of the goats who have lumps in their udders.

7:25 AM: Tazo wants scratches.

7:26 AM: We kick out the first round of goats and start getting ready for the next round, including refilling the feeders and sweeping the deck. The goats still in the holding pen are Ready To Go.

7:33 AM: We let the second round in. The same routine applies: wash the udders, strip, test for mastitis, dip in H2O2, dry, hook up, dip in iodine, dry, hook up, dip in iodine, dry, strip twice, iodine/essential oils on the teats, kick them out. I pray the Rosary during Rounds 2 & 3, using my right hand to count the Hail Marys.

7:40 AM: Queen Jeanne makes her entrance. Jeanne is one of the retired goats, and is Here For Food Only.

7:48 AM: Jem decides to help me do second hook up. Jem is a Good Dog, an eight-year-old Border Collie who helps herd the goats.

7:56 AM: As M1 strips, it's time to switch out the full milk pots for empty ones, clean the outsides of the full ones, and send them over to the creamery, where D is waiting to start pouring.

8:04 AM: The goats are ready for the third round, but the humans need a little break.

8:19 AM: We finish cleaning up after Round 2, and take our short break.

8:42 AM: M1 & I come downstairs to find that K has decided to help us out by starting Round 3, since we only had two people milking, instead of three. Praise the Lord!

9:11 AM: Round 4 is ready. Round 4 consists of the goats who are either too lazy or too small to compete for a spot in one of the earlier rounds.

9:14 AM: I go to get hay for Round 4, and Jeanne, Tazo, Twinings, and Zelina have decided that hay makes an excellent napping spot.

9:21 AM: Omie comes in with the fourth round. She's 14 years old (thus, retired) and the biggest mooch on the entire farm, which is saying something. She'll waggle her tongue out of her mouth to hint that she wants a treat...unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that.

9:22 AM: This round is a lot smaller than the others, so it usually goes faster. Which is nice! Everyone is getting a bit fatigued by Round 4. 

9:38 AM: Yes, this goat only has half of her udder. She lost the other half to gangrenous mastitis, buuut she's alive! We just put a mason jar lid over the other inflation when we milk her.

10:01 AM: This girl is suffering from hairy wart in her hoof, so we put some ointment on it and give her a new spiffy yellow boot.

10:13 AM: Fourth round is done, second round of milk pots taken to the creamery, now just to clean up, including pouring milk for the babies into containers to refrigerate until it's bottle time.

10:21 AM: The barn swallow right over the door to the milkroom would like to express her displeasure at my presence.

10:23 AM: Quick snack of kefir-nectarine smoothie.

10:59 AM: I read for like 0.2 seconds, and then fall asleep.

12:58 PM: I wake up, head up to the crew room where Bella (D's dog) attempts to con me out of everything I own, and I grab my "uniform" shirt. (Yes, that was a two-hour nap. I regret nothing.)

1:09 PM: Time to fill bottles for the babies, and warm them up! Hot water goes in the bucket until the milk is body temp (about 101 degrees for the goats, so it should feel a little warm on the inside of my wrist.)

1:22 PM: Bottles to the baby pen...with a quick stop to put Dagmar, one of the moms who still has a nursing baby, back with the rest of the herd, as she had somehow invaded the feed room as well.

1:25 PM: The bottle babies are VERY happy to see me. You see that little stinker to the right in the picture above, the black one with beige circles around his eyes? That's Loki, M2's spoiled brat buckling. Yeah. More on him a minute.

1:31 PM: Babies are in pens--one pen for the babies who have soremouth (a viral illness that is disturbing looking but generally not harmful) and one for all the others--and I set up the bottles in the crates.

1:37 PM: I start feeding the babies, while listening to the Bible in A Year podcast. Most of them go on the crates, but I hand feed Nico and Truffles (the soremouth babies), and also Sumi (because she's a diva and won't drink from the crates). At this point, I also notice that Orvella is missing. Cue small panic attack. Also, you see how Loki is looking all innocent in with the soremouth babies? Not two minutes after this picture was taken, he used his horns to try to spear Nico to get his bottles. At which point he was ignominiously dumped in with Sumi...and proceeded to do the same thing to her! He couldn't be out, because he would steal bottles from all the babies on the crates. See why he's named Loki? The view out of the barn is lovely...and I happen to like the inside of the barn, too.

1:51 PM: Everyone is finished with their bottles, and I need to go find Orvella, super cute dam-raised babies who want cuddles notwithstanding.

1:53 PM: Turns out, Orvella is in with Loki's sister Mandolin (before I knew her name, I was calling her Hela. XD) with Quinn the big scary teddy bear of an LGD. Yes, that third picture is me on my back trying to bottle Orvella while withstanding Mandolin's attacks of love.

2:01 PM: On my way wash the bottles, I notice this chicken looking suspicious. I suspect she's up to no good.

2:02 PM: The bottles need to be rinsed, bleached, and rinsed again. 

2:10 PM: That being done, it's time to snuggle with the dam-raised babies. Tazo claims my lap and uses her tiny horns (and teeth) to defend it from all other claimants.

2:34 PM: M1 brings the milk herd in from the field, and it's minor chaos for a moment as they're all over the hay bales and all in the milkroom. Fortunately, M1 and her trusty Jem to the rescue to get the stragglers out of the milkroom.

2:56 PM: After a small snack, it's time to do some of my reading/writing things--writing a book review in my books bujo, writing in my five-year journal, reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke in Latin, reading a few blog posts, reading some more of my current book. 

3:56 PM: It starts raining just as I'm about to start my Support (feeding, watering, mucking) shift. Flawless timing, as always. (But hey, the water dripping from the barn eaves is pretty!)

4 PM: My first job on support is to fill up the waters of the beef steers. This is usually done from the buck pasture, which is a little bit perilous since Aslan the LGD is in the pasture with the bucks, and he's known for biting new interns, of which I am one. So, I leave the gate open and stand on the fence, so I can make a quick exit. But in three other support shifts, that's never been a problem.

4:01 PM: So, of course, today is the day it becomes a problem. Aslan comes wandering over, I hop the barbed-and-woven-wire fence, and he promptly goes out the open gate and gets stuck, so I have to call M1 to rescue me.

4:07 PM: That concluded, I come around to water the bucks and dry does. There's Aslan in the barn looking all innocent like he hasn't bitten two people so far this summer, and there's Falcon the buck who has fantastic horns.

4:10 PM: I start filling the pasture waterer, and head in to do some other things, taking a moment to be amused that Zelie has found a fun napping spot.

4:12 PM: Jem is not a chicken, but he waits around while I feed the chickens until I give him his chicken quarter. All the other dogs get chicken quarters as well. I hand Aslan's straight into his mouth, and he doesn't bite me--small victory!

4:17 PM: The dam raised kid gang has invaded the milkroom again as I pass through.

4:20 PM: I need to move a huge old van so that it's backed up to the barn to unload alfalfa. I survive, although I think I'm going to die at least three times. 

4:32 PM: Water for the pregnant does, bottle kids, and milkers, and alfalfa for the pregnant girls and bottle kids. The second picture in this sequence is called "spot Swade the LGD who is trying to look like a frog in the hay", and the second-to-last picture is called "the ram lambs are getting feisty". XD

4:52 PM: Time to muck (during which I listen to more Bible in a Year). Before...

5:26 PM: All clean...

5:28 PM: That chicken WAS up to something!

5:32 PM: All bedded with straw.

5:34 PM: I go ask M1, who is milking with S2, if there's anything else I need to do during my shift. She replies that this little dam raised baby has poisoned herself with Poison Hemlock, a neurotoxin. She asks me to "pray over" her, M1 and S2 both being nondenominational I don't pray 'over' her, but I do pray several Hail Marys and St. Michael prayers for her.

5:38 PM: Up to the crew room where Isaiah and Jaguar are aggressively avoiding the scrabbling noises that should mean that they have a job on this farm.

5:42 PM: Back to my cabin...the bucks are out, you can see them past the gate, there's a gigantic spider under the lock when I open it, and I badly need to clean up my cabin, because I have next week off.

5:58 PM: All clean! Time to read, back in the crew room.

6:28 PM: M1 lets me know that I also need to take grass hay to the milkers, pregnant does, and bucks, so it's off to Mandolin and Orvella's playground to try to sneak some bales away from them. I herd the milkers into one side of their pen and close the gate, so I can bring a wheelbarrow through. One thing I've found in this job is that I have a weirdly innate sense of how to herd large flocks of animals. Maybe it came from having ducks as a 10/11 year old?

6:41 PM: Quinn and Orvella are being So Helpful. (Seriously. Try to balance a bale of hay on a wheelbarrow while a goat is shifting positions on top. Just try.)

6:53 PM: I find this entire sign inside one of the bales of hay.

6:58 PM: The milkers are Big Fans of their newfound hay. 

7:09 PM: As are the bucks and dry does. The bucks have been wandering around all over the place, and one came over to investigate as I was trying to feed the others. Even though it's not breeding season, they still smell bad. (Bucks have a specific scent they use to attract the girls, and it's musky-goaty-fuzzy, and it hits you STRONGLY in the back of the throat, and it is Quite Something.)

7:10 PM: This girl is All Tangled Up, but I manage to get her out of the woven wire--but I have to go into the pen to do it. Thank goodness, I can see that Aslan is out in the pasture, and nothing bad happens.

7:15 PM: Going through the barn, I check on this girl again--she's still shaky and can't walk, but she's holding her head up, as she wasn't last time I checked on my way through. The next morning, M1 lets me know that she has made a full and strangely rapid recovery. :)

7:17 PM: I go back to my cabin and call a friend to chat.

8:06 PM: My parents come and pick me up, and it's the end of my day on the farm!

Congrats if you made it to the end! I hope you enjoyed hearing about a (LONG!) day in my farm life! Please let me know if you have any questions! :)

(Also, happy feast of the Sacred Heart, and happy overturn of Roe v. Wade! I'm a little nervous about what that means for our country, but mostly THRILLED and praising God.)


  1. Wow! I'm exhausted just reading this! We have several goats ourselves, so I feel your goat chaos/shenanigans pain!! Thank you so much for sharing your day with us, it's really neat to see your set-up!

    1. It's quite a lot, each day! I'm always happy to go to bed...and naps help, too. :) Oh, you have goats, too? Cool! Goat chaos & shenanigans are a pain, but also, it would be a lot more boring without them, lol. You're welcome!

  2. Lol, this reminds me of my own dairy experience a few years ago. Except mine were ornery Holsteins, lol.

    1. I imagine ornery Holsteins are quite a bit harder to deal with than ornery goats--they're certainly a whole lot bigger!

  3. Wow! I haven't had experience with goats (only cows), but these guys look simultaneously cute and like they'd have an evilly mischievous glint in their eyes At All Times. Also Jem is a GOOD DOG pls give him scratches from me xD

    1. There's definitely both a huge cute factor, and a LOT of mischief that goes on! There's always something happening, whether it be just general hopping around and shenanigans or an escape attempt... I totally gave Jem scratches from you! He is very appreciative. XD

  4. I seem to be the odd one out here in the comments because I've never had more than a dog. (We live in a city subburb. XD) But my friends in Texas have goats so I have been around them a teeny bit. I do have to say though that the work you do is incredible. *applause* It was really neat to read about your day and adventures. The baby goats (kids) are soooo cute!! And you're reading the Gospel in Latin?!?! :O That's awesome!! Unfortunately my Latin is not that good. I need to pick that back up again.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing!! God bless you and keep you!! <3

    1. Well, that was our family for a very long time (except we didn't even have a dog, just two rabbits, lol)...our family's goats came a lot later! I'm glad you enjoyed reading about my day! It was a lot of fun to write about it. I know, the kids are ADORABLE!
      Well, to be fair, the only reason my Latin is good enough to read the Gospel is because I *know* the Gospel, lol. I'm hoping to work through the first Henle Latin this year during schooltime so that I manage to get an actual grasp of the grammar, rather than what I've just cobbled together over the years.

      God bless you, too, Sarah! <3

    2. Oh wow! That's awesome! Did you have any other Latin books you've used to familiarize yourself? I did Henle books I & II in high school and loved them. They are definitely grammar oriented though so I can't speak the language unfortunately. (Spoiler alert:) Lots of reading about how the Romans always conquer the Gauls. XD

    3. Well, I did a little with Thomas Aquinas's De Perfectionis, and also a bit with Gallic Wars, but neither of those went very well in terms of comprehension, lol. Well, grammar is what I need, so that is a good endorsement of the Henle books! (I might consider looking and seeing if Duolingo has a Latin program so I can try to get a bit fluent in speaking it, but I bet they use classical pronunciation, so...maybe not.)


Post a Comment

Hi! I'm so glad you are here and taking the time to comment. I love all comments, even ones on old posts! I just ask that you are respectful and keep the comments section clean. Thank you!