New Hampshire – Days 2-3: America’s Stonehenge and Milking Goats

Brittany Swanson   September 23, 2015   Comments Off on New Hampshire – Days 2-3: America’s Stonehenge and Milking Goats

I started Day Two in New Hampshire with a trip to America’s Stonehenge. While not as impressive as the original Stonehenge, it was still pretty cool. According to their website, America’s Stonehenge is a man made structure dating back about 4,000 years. The cost of admission was $12, which is a little steep, but I’d say it was worth it. After you pay they give you a FOUR PAGE guide to the area. The guide lays out where each area of the site is, and it’s believed purpose. The lady at the desk recommended I start with the video they offered at the visitor center, so I sat and watched that before starting my self-guided tour. All I really gathered from the video is that scientists have been studying America’s Stonehenge for a long time and are constantly finding new information about the site.

Outside one of the structures of America's Stonehenge. How did they move that rock ceiling?!

Outside one of the structures of America’s Stonehenge. How in the world did they move that rock ceiling?!

Each area of the site is marked with a number or a letter that corresponds to both the map and a description of the location in the guide. One of the most interesting parts of the site was the Oracle Chamber. There was this big hallway-like structure called the Sundeck Chamber and then toward the ground was a hidden hole behind the wall, just large enough for a small person to fit in. According to the guide, the opening inside this hole allowed whoever was inside to see all that was going on in the hallway without being seen themselves. In addition to that, there was another small tunnel that went from the hidden space to underneath the Sacrificial Table. So, whoever was in the hidden space could say something in the speaking tunnel and their voice would come out under the Sacrificial Table. Hence the name the Oracle Chamber. Unfortunately, it was super dark and the hallway was really close together so I didn’t get a good picture of the Oracle Chamber, but here’s a picture of another part of the Sundeck Chamber:

Sundeck Chamber, America's Stonehenge, Salem, NH (F. Seat H. Running Deer Carving).

Sundeck Chamber, America’s Stonehenge, Salem, NH (F. Seat H. Running Deer Carving).

Another cool feature of the site was the astronomical markings. America’s Stonehenge covers about twenty acres and throughout the site are different rocks or structures marking different points of the year. From stones marking the Winter and Summer Solstices to the Fall and Spring Equinoxes, it’s pretty impressive. I mean really, how did ancient people figure out when all of these things happen, or better still, how did the modern scientists who discovered the markings know what they meant when, because of the Earth’s tilt, they’re not quite accurate?! Science is so cool!

I finished the Nature Trail around the main site and decided to check out the Astronomical Trail, an additional fifteen minute walk. I found the first marker no problem, I completely missed the second, and after the third I got lost. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t paying attention and so didn’t follow the correct trail or what happened, but I ended up wandering around for about twenty minutes before I found the main site again. At that point I really had to use the restroom and decided it wasn’t worth it to get lost in the woods again trying to find the right trail just to look at some stones that didn’t really mean anything to me. So I left, but not before stopping to say hello to the alpacas.

My new alpaca friend at America's Stonehenge, Salem, NH. Isn't he adorable?!

My new alpaca friend at America’s Stonehenge in Salem, NH. Isn’t he adorable?!

Next up was a visit to a friend of a friend who was going to show me how to milk a goat! Here’s how you milk a goat: 1. Sterilize the pail, jar, and strainer. 2. Get the goat into position on a table with a closure around her neck to keep her in place while she eats and gets milked. 3. Sterilize the goat’s teats and udder with bleach solution to kill any bacteria. 4. Put the pail under the goat. 5. Pinch a teat between thumb and pointer finger and then close the rest of hand into a fist around teat, squeezing pretty hard to release milk into pail. (Note: It’s usually a good idea to squirt a few shots into a garbage pail first to reduce the risk of bacteria. Also, if you don’t completely pinch off the teat with your thumb and pointer finger the milk will shoot back up into the udder when you squeeze instead of coming out of the teat.) 6. Repeat step five with both teats until no more milk settles into teats. 7. Return the goat to the pen. 8. Strain the milk into the jar, put the jar on ice, and enjoy your goat’s milk!

The first goat I ever milked; Lily, the stomper.

The first goat I ever milked; Lily, the stomper.

They started me with the goat that stomps, Lily. I was afraid she was going to kick me, so I was really hesitant. I also didn’t really know what I was doing so I was super timid. In the end I managed to get a few good squirts out of her. Next came Elsa. She was much more chill and helped boost my confidence. I left a ton of milk in her thinking I was done though…whoops. This was Monday night. I was also scheduled to come milk the goats at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Milking Elsa, the chill.

Milking Elsa, the chill.

Tuesday morning I was basically flying solo with the goats, which terrified me. What if I did something wrong? What if I didn’t get all the milk? Could goats’ udders EXPLODE?! I ended up being fine. I again started with Lily, because she likes going first. Thankfully, after the previous night’s practice I was a bit more confident and in the morning Lily was a bit more chill. There was much less stomping. Next was Elsa who had So. Much. Milk! When I finally finished I was like, whoa I just milked two goats! How cool is that?! I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to milk a cow, but the thought of milking a goat never crossed my mind. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to milk a goat, though. It was such a neat experience!