Friday, July 22, 2016

New Experiences, or why I learned how to milk a cow this year.

New experiences are awesome, and the bright spot of my summer has been learning how to milk a dairy cow. Now, first off I must say that never in a million years did I ever expect to find myself learning to milk a cow. I’ve helped my daughter with her cows each year at fair, washing them and cleaning up after them, brushing them and feeding them, I’ve even lain in the straw beside them and taken a nap in the barn, but milking…let’s just say images of getting kicked for accidently offending the cow went through my head several times in the beginning, but fortunately, no kicking has taken place.

Peanut Butter, who has been my daughter’s cow for the fair for the past two years, doesn’t seem to mind being milked, at all, thank goodness, and since she is so used to being petted and having her face rubbed, she’s easy to handle weather she has her halter or leash on, or not.

Maybe I should go back to the beginning through.

This spring, Peanut Butter had her first calf, who my daughter named Apple Butter. Typically, my daughter and her godfather work on the cow project together and I just help at fair, but this year, her god father had to have a muscle biopsy on his dominant arm and is on a weight restriction, meaning he can’t lift more than 10 pounds. Since the metal collection bin for the milk is already about 20 pounds, this was a problem. Right up until that moment when him and his mother offered to teach this former city girl how to milk the cow.

Apple butter, the calf

Now, let me point out that I have worked on a hog farm, and I ride horses when I can, so I know my way around large animals, but milking a cow was certainly on the list of things I’d only halfway done once, as a child, on a visit to the dairy farm when we were allowed to squeeze a teat.

Milking using a machine is fortunately a bit difference and there is certainly a process and several steps involved, but I’m happy to report that I can do them all unsupervised now. A helpful, skill, I must admit, seeing as how book two and three of the Guitars series takes place primarily on the ranch. I’ve worked with chickens too, bred quails and raised the babies, so all of these skills are going to find their way into my stories.

Not to mention being out on the farm is just peaceful, even when the flies are buzzing all over the place. Working out there in the fresh air, with the wind blowing through the trees and the bees from the beehives behind the paddock buzzing around the clover, it’s like a little slice of heaven. I’ve started to learn some basic beekeeping skills as well, though I haven’t had the chance to see a queen yet. I’m still a little scared about having so many bees around me, but I’m getting more and more comfortable with it and plan to take some photos of working with the bees real soon.

Not really looking forward to washing the cows this afternoon after milking, the real feel says it’s going to be 117 outside, but the chores have to get done. The washing will help the cows cool off, and they are going to need that even in the shade with the way the weather is going to be. They’re saying real feel of 115 tomorrow, that will mean baths again tomorrow and of course, the mama cow still has to be milked. Least I can come back to mom’s place and take a cool shower. We’re staying here for a few days in the A/C since our house hasn’t been updated with air conditioning yet.

Oh well, it’s coming, it’s one of the perils of a 97 year old house that was purchased as a fixer-uper. I love it though, most times, just redid the kitchen and still working on the bathroom remodel, mostly, need to find some more shelves and things. I love the way the kitchen turned out though, it was a long time coming as it was the last big room in the house to get a makeover, but such a difference the paint makes. Now for fall to get here so I can strip, re-stain and seal the floors.

Ready for cool weather so I can head to the woods mushroom hunting, too, and taking pictures. Maybe get out and do some trail riding before the weather gets bad. I never imagined that I would love living in the country, now, I couldn’t imagine living anyplace else.

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