LaFonda is giving us about 4 gallons of milk a day. Cadence milks her in the morning in about half an hour and gets 2 1/2 gallons. When I milk her in the evening, it takes me over an hour and I only get a gallon and a half.
Cadence can milk with both hands simultaneously. My old-lady hands cramp up when I milk, so I have to alternate, giving each hand frequent stretches and rests.
I have been watching Craigslist and Ebay for a bucket milking machine. Although I have found reasonably priced used bucket milkers, I still would need a vacuum pump and that gets too expensive.
A couple weeks ago I saw an ad in a magazine (Mary Jane's Farm, kind of a cross between of Mother Earth News and Martha Stewart Living) for the Udderly- EZ Milker, a simple hand-operated pump that sounded like the perfect solution. It turned out that the inventor/entrepreneur lives not far away, so I called him up. He was very friendly and helpful and even offered to come over to help if I had any problems. He originally invented this device for collecting colostrum for horses, but now he sells many EZ Milkers to people who hand-milk cows, goats and sheep, often with arthritic hands. He had just sent some to Dubai for milking camels!
I have been using the Udderly EZ Milker for a week now. The first few times LaFonda tried to nudge it off with her hind foot, but now she is used to it and ignores it entirely. It isn't really much faster for me than hand-milking, but my hands are now painfree- what an improvement. I also like that the milk goes into a closed bottle rather than an open bucket, so there is no chance of anything falling into it. The only downside is that I miss the musical ringing of the milk hitting the stainless steel pail.