Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hard Work

Yes.  This is hard.  It is hard physically and otherwise.  But you know what?  That's ok.  Hard work makes you stronger. 

I milked earlier and faster this morning.  I had two gallons done in two hours including prep work.  Prep work is getting the grain ready, get the teat washing stuff ready, getting the cow into the barn, getting her into the staunchen, tying her tail and hobbling her,  and whatever else happens before I can sit down and milk.

The first few days were absolutely miserable.  Totally.  But now I am sitting here with everything cleaned and ready for this evening, all the milk skimmed and frozen, and three quarts of cream to play with.  I think I'll make butter and freeze it as I still have boughten butter to use up. 

It will be ok.  It is not great right now, but it is getting better each time.  Plus, want to know the neatest thing?  I've gotten to hang out with my wonderful neighbor. 

She's come over the last three evenings and milked with me.  She was raised on a ranch and knows so much.  She really is great.  This is the first opportunity we have had to get to know each other because she travels a lot.  Plus, she has a project I can work on in exchange for her help.  That's nice.

The cow-who-still-is-nameless is a wonderful cow.  She has the sweetest temperament.  Not many cows would put up with how long this is taking.  Especially one used to being machine milked.

My mom has been a Godsend.  She has been watching the kiddos a lot.  I am sure she is as tired as I am!  We reeeeally appreciate her help.  The kids have LOVED  having her here. I just wish I could get to see her, too! 

Sweetheart was on milking duty with me from the get-go on Saturday and Sunday while Grandma was over.  However, he has been working on the milking machine side of things and has not been able to milk more.  He has had to make all day trips to get machines and parts and been working on putting it all together.  There were no fully ready machines available even all the way to Boise.  Plus, he is the one taking care of the kids while I am milking in the mornings.

The cow was putting out sixty pounds of milk for the dairy we bought her from since the calf was born on the 16th.  They milked her by machine and bottle-fed the calf.  We have since just turned them out to the pasture together and he drink at will. 

Why didn't we have a machine from the start?    Several reasons.  They are expensive.  I did not want a machine as I thought it might make the milking time a bit shorter, but add extensively to the clean up time.  I figured it would equal out and therefore not be worth it to me.  I thought that because I was used to milk the goats, I could handle this.  Plus, we have an excess of machines in our lives.  Need I say more?

Here's what I didn't know.  First, that we'd have so much trouble just getting her in the barn.  Second, that they were telling the truth about how much milk she produces. ( I figured it was exaggerated based on the fact that every seller seems to exaggerate animal output.)  Third, that she is short, her bag hangs low, her teats are a lot shorter than a goats and that her bag is so big you cannot reach both sides at once without almost laying down. 

So, we'll machine milk her.  Soon.  I am praying that it will start tonight! 

Yes, there have been a lot of tears.  Yes, it is frustrating.  Yes, is has been really messy.  Yes, I am sore.  Yes, I have prayed for help and forgiveness a lot. 

Last night, was pretty bad.  She broke free from the staunchen, she got poop all over me, I spilled milk all over the kitchen and cried over it.

This morning, it went a lot better.  She got free again, but I got her under control all by myself and rigged it up to hold better.  Learning something new, seeing how strong I can be, and working hard all feel pretty good even when my forearms and fingers don't!

Love you all!  And please, please, come over and get some milk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  PS--What is fresh milk going for in your area?  The store milk here is  $4.00 a gallon.  I am not sure what to price it at.  PLEASE give ideas for prices.  And pray the machine works.


Bonnie said...

Milk here (you know where) is about $3 a gallon(?), I haven't bought it in forever. Organic is over $5, I buy raw for $3. I'm sorry you cried over your spilled milk, but I'm glad it's getting easier, and you're making a friend in the process.
I've always been a fan of Blossom and Bossy for cows. A bit predictable, but I like 'em : ) I also like naming animals after herbs. We don't have any though, just a dog named after a gun. How 'bout Spud for the calf? Or 'Tater. Not sure why potatoes are in my mind.
Anyway, here's hoping the milking machine's up and running tonight!

Caitlin said...

You have truly earned your homesteading stripes, one battle at a time and my admiration for persistence. Please use a machine to milk, it can be very bad on your hands.

Davene Grace said...

All this talk about milking cows keeps reminding me of my grandparents...and again tonight I'm taken back to them. I can't help but hear my grandmother's voice saying, "There's no great loss without some small gain." It sounds like the time you've spent with your neighbor is more than just a "small gain"! Not to mention the milk and cream and fresh butter...oh my... I'm praying that the milking machine gets up and running soon, so you can have a break. I'm so proud of you!!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Well, the travel costs would make for extremely expensive milk but I would have paid good money to see lovely YOU covered in cow poo, hehehe.

Don't hate me, just think how funny it sounds when reading in a warm, cozy room.

Now I know why my parents never bought a cow on their hobby farm (when I was a preschooler).

Of course, you will become expert in all of this and LOVE being more self sufficient. But could you imagine this back when you had tea parties?

What God calls us to may not be easy but the journey is worth it.

Anonymous said...

Organic Milk in NYC costs about $4.29 per HALF GALLON. Enjoy your wonderful
milk, cream, butter and cheese.-Catherine

hadashi said...

been following your adventures with a mixture of admiration, pride, and sympathetic horror. i'm glad it's gotten better. although i have a sneaking feeling that this post is in many ways very analogous to having a newborn and breastfeeding. *sigh*

BaileyZimmerman said... what a wild ride....more like a bucking bronco than a cow............
You are an inspiration.,....
ps Do you have a photo of poop on your face? .....................................................................................................................................................just kidding...

Buttons said...

Oh my gosh I so lived this I was crying and milking so much I thought it was part of the process.
You are lucky to have a good temperament cow I had a miserable cow who hated the milk machine. I would chase her round and round to come in the barn she would break fences and keep going. By the time I got her in the barn we were both angry and frustrated.
I will tell you it does get much easier, someday you will look back and laugh and maybe cry a little thinking of all you have accomplished.
I love reading these posts. Take care and smile. B


Blog Widget by LinkWithin