So We Have a Milk Cow; Now What?

Here is a quick update on Bonnie the milk cow… She is still a cow.  We are still not milk farmers.  Although we are working at it on a regular schedule now.  We have learned a lot in the last few days.  The first thing we learned is that cows like structure.  They get on a schedule and don’t like it to be changed.  This is an important little detail to remember when you are buying a cow. 
For example, if you are a late night computer guy who is use to burning the midnight oil to make up for all the income producing work you didn’t get done during the day when the farm requires your attention, then you should probably have asked the Amish guy you bought the cow from what time he normally milks her!  It’s ok if you don’t though because the cow will be sure to let you know.  Have you ever heard the elephants at the zoo?  Cows don’t sound much different when that are “communicating” with you at 5:00 in the morning!
That’s right, apparently Bonnie, was use to being milked at 5:05 AM each day.  Now we knew we would have to get up early to milk her and we were looking forward to a little discipline in this area.  But the thought did occur to me this particular morning (more than once) that it would have been easier to work a couple extra hours and milk the cow before bed rather than bouncing back out of bed before it got warm.  Let me be clear early around here is 6 or 7, not 4 or 5! 
After failing to find the snooze button for this loud obnoxious new alarm sound I was hearing I finally managed to drag myself out of bed and into the field to milk her.  (We don’t have the “milk barn” setup yet, so you can probably expect an interesting post if it rains real good before we get one, remember cows like schedules rain or shine.)
Now the fun part begins, half awake and having never milked a cow before, where do you start with this thing?  We did have some very good friends come over the night before when we first brought her home who were seasoned agrarians.  They managed to give us a quick milking demo, but I had slept since then…well a little.
We did learn enough to know that we didn’t actually have to go out and rope her to bring her up to the feed.  Being a seasoned milk cow, she would just walk right up and  stick her head right in the trough while you placed the rope gently around her head.  This was news to us at the time.

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But now for the bucket and you know… that milking part.  Let’s just say I would have been able to post this yesterday except for the fact that my hands would not move after milking a gallon and a half of milk a few ounces at a time!  I know you seasoned milk farmer are saying,  “only a gallon and a half of milk what gives, don’t most cows give 5-7 gallons?”  We’ll Bonnie’s been milking for a while, which it turns out is a good thing for us greenhorns.  I wouldn’t be posting or working at all on the computer for at least a week if I would have had to milk a full 5 gallons.  Computer work makes you soft, but we’re working on a fix for that.
Oh I guess I should confess that I did have some help and that I didn’t actually milk the entire gallon and a half by myself.  That is one of the grand things about farm life, there is plenty of work to do and you get to do along side of your children! 

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Peyton was the designated milker this morning with a host of backup milkers in the dugout all waiting for their turn with Bonnie.  Peyton will be sharing about his and Pierce’s adventure with a raccoon soon and I believe Beth will have some pictures and a follow up to what happens to the milk after we get it in the bucket!

For now, goodnight from Vaughnshire.  There’s a cow that will be calling soon.

3 Comments

  • I know that you will, but here is some encouragement to persevere. It will take several weeks to build the strength in you hands and improve the technique, but it will improve. You can, slowly, nudge her milking time a little later if you desire. Just move it a little each day.
    We are hoping that Clarabelle calves this month and that we will be able to milk her again. We made several improvements to our milking stanchion over the several weeks that we were milking. I’d be glad to post some photos if that would be helpful. I had some difficulty in finding a clear design for a simple, old-fashioned stanchion.
    Keith Bradshaw

  • Sarah Hall says:

    Okay, from the very depths of my heart may I say I am happy for y’all and also happy for me. I fear for the cow that wakes me at 5am. He may fall into the same fate as my neighbors dogs.

  • PaulTN says:

    Keith,
    BTW – Thanks for the encouragement. As each day passes I’m more interested in seeing the stanchion. 🙂

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