Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Milk Cow 101

My husband is off working so my wonderful father and I went and picked up my milk cow and calf yesterday. She has been staying at my dear friend Kerri's Farm. It was a day I will keep in my heart. It's not often that I get alone time with my dad and special that he helped me bring my first milk cow home.

Then there is today......

A few side notes: We haven't had a milk cow on our farm since I was a girl - a good twenty years. That should date me and my milking facility for you. The calf was weaned a little over two weeks ago. In farm terms, at two weeks if you put the calf back with the cow, she's not really weaned. The cart is still before the horse here at my house and that fence isn't quite finished yet. Last night the calf jumped the partition in the lot and is now in with the cow. So, no milk for me. But on the upside this gives me a few days to let Ellie get settled in and used to her new place before my husband returns and the milking schedule starts.

Okay, jump to 8a.m this morning. I went down to the lot to introduce Ellie to her new milking area. Lets call my cow lot and milk shed vintage since it's popular to call old things that are falling apart vintage. And is just sounds fancier than shack or ruins. I think there is something truly beautiful about old barns. But, beautiful and functional don't always go hand in hand.

I was able to separate the cow and calf easily and get Ellie in the milking stanchion. My milk stanchion is just a very old wood feed trough attached to the wall of the very old barn with a front section the cow sticks her her head through that latches around her neck while she eats and is milked. This handy device is supposed to keep the cow from leaving the area until you are done milking. Note here please that I'm not actually milking, just feeding the cow where she will be milked.

The second I have the cow in the milking area the calf goes nuts. She is running around the lot balling and making all kinds of commotion. This isn't really helpful but going on in the background all the same. My new love, Ellie, quickly devoured her food and decided she didn't really care for the new scenery and wanted back with her newly reunited calf. Commence the dancing cow who is throwing a temper fit and trying to remove her wooden necklace. She was almost successful at removing my grandfathers milking stanchion from the wall of my vintage milk shed. Lets just say it was raining wood and my life passed before my eyes a few times.

Now friends, livestock are like children. Allowed to throw a fit and have their way, they will continue to repeat the undesirable behavior. So I got out of the way and let her have her fit all the while praying that she wouldn't pull the whole barn down her first morning here. When she finally stood still, I released her. I surveyed the damage and headed for the house to get a much needed cup of coffee.

After a cup of coffee and sharing my morning events with my loving husband and best friend I think I'm going to need something more that coffee. I do not have a facility that in its present state will hold my new milk cow. But rather I have a beautiful vintage milk shed that is leaning a little more after the morning activities than it was yesterday.

I purchased a milk cow not a range cow. Milk cow implies the act of milking which yields fresh wonderful milk and cream for my kitchen. So, I will be reenacting scenes from Old Yeller sooner than I'd like. I know it's a movie about a boy and his dog. But there is a scene in the movie where a very unhappy cow is tied to a POST to be milked. The character Travis says, "holder her Yeller" and the dog walks into the pen and the cow stands perfectly still to be milked. Well there isn't a lop eared yeller dog to come to my rescue. Flash to me, milk pail in hand, staring down a very unhappy milk cow tied to a post.....................


  1. I am thankful that my prophetic words didn't come true and the whole darn barn didn't come down! This is the first of many adventures which will NOT all be funny while living them out, but EXTREMELY funny when sharing with me or your blog! I forgot to mention that dairy cows, like children, are instruments of God which He uses to humble and refine us. Chew on that! Oh, and btw, I am not the only person reading your bloggity blog....there are others and one of them even left a comment!!

  2. Yikes! We just got a new puppy, which I have been secretly (OK, not so secretly) regretting. But you, dear Heather, put things in perspective this morning. By the way, you are a good writer.