Thursday, January 10, 2013

this actually happened

This my friends is a barn in central Ohio; it is 20 degrees.
Inside the barn is both hay and straw.
They look pretty similar, but you'll want to know which is which because also inside said barn is a cow.
Hiya Bess!
It's time for the morning milking, so straw gets spread over any fresh manure in the stall [the manure holds in her body heat during the winter months so it doesn't get mucked out, but to keep Bess clean and comfortable layers of straw go over it] and hay gets thrown in the corner for breakfast.
I told you that you were gonna have to be able to tell them apart (or in my case be able to follow directions when the pro explains which is in which corner).
With the stall raked and strawed and Bess happily munching her "yummy" hay it is time to get the specialist equipment.:
Yep, little tykes chairs. They are just the right height for milking and have better lumbar support than a traditional stool.
Rea sat with me at first (hence the 2 chairs) to help me get the technique right; it's more of a squeeze and roll than a pull.

But soon enough she was on photographer duty:

1. See how her left leg is stepped back? You can't milk if she doesn't do that. When Bess gets restless, bored or wants to move onto the dessert portion of breakfast she'll move that leg forward so watch it carefully or your bucket might get kicked over.
2. I'm a-milking away when Rea points out that she can't see my face at all; it is 20 degrees, people, i need that hood pulled forward.
3. Of course i pause to pull back my hood for the camera. It's important to acknowledge my priorities in this endeavor; it doesn't count if i don't have proof.

Hey City Mouse, how does it feel to have milked your first cow?
It was an interesting experience to say the least. I could pretty reliably get milk with one hand, but failed miserably when i tried to do 2 at once. And forget about those two tiny teats of Bess', there was no chance this novice was getting any milk from those.
 In fact, i milked until i had completely covered the bottom of the pail then i turned it over to Rea so that it wouldn't take an hour for milking.
Normally milking also involves an udder wash down, but it was way too cold for that so we just gave Bess feed and took the pail inside for straining cause...

no one wants to drink that yet.
Rea uses several layers of cheese cloth inside of a kefir strainer to fill the glass jar,
which is then measured and recorded, labeled,

and taken out to the milk fridge  where jars are shuffled so that the new milk gets cold quick and dates can be checked for freshness.
Anything older than a week is given to the cats,
 who have not only been following you through this whole procedure, but almost crawl up your leg to get to the milk as you head for their bowl which is not at all tricky or dangerous on the snow/ice.

Lastly, you bring in any milk you might need for the day's cooking/baking/dairy-ing (is that a word? it is now).
Wait to you see what we did next.


Rea said...

Love.LOVE.the picture of the fridge!! I'm going to linky your post on mine!!

Douglas said...

How do we know that wasn't a Niki stunt double under all those layers?

Melanie said...

Well, Niki, it's about time you learned some practical skills. :)