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The Milky Bar Kids - A Memorable First

February 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 200

Our Dairy was a Herring-bone style with cows standing alongside each other in a staggered fashion - 6 each side of a waist-deep pit where we worked with swing-across sets of milking cups. A strong steel bar across their bottoms and a thick concrete ledge behind their back feet stopped them from joining us down there...mostly.

This old dairy had been the first herring-bone style in the area - a breakthrough in its day - but this one already had 'whiskers on it' - as we would discover. There was a long feed trough with a walk space in front to enable hand-bucketing their ration of crushed grain into it. In the interest of speed and ease of handling, I had carefully lined up the spot where each cow's head would be, and deposited 6 bucketfuls in each trough. Sounded good to me.

On this first day, hubby and I both went on foot to bring the cows in. Their size was just a tad 'over the top' for this ex-secretary, and a little 'Dutch courage' needed bolstering. Lesson No. l - when cows have been herded in by a sheep farmer and his dogs - and are then treated to quiet but firm encouragement by humans 'on foot', they do NOT respond with gratitude and appreciation.

NO...the drippy dames all had to stop everything they were doing 'stare at us wide-eyed'; 'poop'; turn around and start following us (from a fast-diminishing distance...did I mention, cows are SO curious); 'poop' some more; finally start to move together - in the wrong direction; and just for good luck, 'poop' again.

On this day, it required one human in front, for them to follow - and one human at the back to encourage the forward impetus. I cannot tell you how much we have chuckled at the memory. We seriously had no idea! But at last they were in the concrete holding yard with the gate firmly chained behind them. With a press of a button, the milking machine sprung into action and it was 'all systems go'.

Except...the first cow let into the dairy stopped at the first pile of feed in the long trough and started eating. And everyone else started piling up behind her, pushing and shoving like a mob scene at the opening of a department store sale. Soon, there were cows in the engine room - and the milk room around the huge (and extremely valuable) refrigerated milk vat. A couple went down the steps into 'our' pit; two were wedged tight between the tail rail and the trough; and another tried to jump over the feed trough, and succeeded in straddling it instead.

Before this event, we were apprehensive, but quite sure bravado would beat anything we would face. Huh! Now our stomachs and our nervous systems most closely resembled the stuff that jellyfish are made of, as we tried to restore order to the incredible chaos that overwhelmed us. I remember we had to let them all out again into the dirt yard next to the concrete - and clean down the dairy (you can guess why!). Next, remove the offending feed from the troughs. Aha! You feed them after they have walked in and shuffled and arranged themselves (and 'pooped' again - where does it all come from?).

Believe me, its no job for the faint-hearted - all these 'poppy' eyes in huge heads, all staring at you. Some want to sniff and taste you with tongues as long as a snake (well, nearly), whilst others roll their eyes, lay back their ears and toss their heads all about. It's hard to decide which is worse. There was just one more happening before this lengthy day was done, but that's another story - coming soon - honestly!

It had taken us almost 4 hours from 'whoa to go' to milk 26 cows. We were quite proud to find we cut that back to 2-1/2 hours at the next one - the p.m. milking. On that day, we would not have believed the 'norm' we achieved much later - 65 cows in 2 hours!

But this was 'easy street', as my Mother-in-law would have told you. She grew up in Denmark, milking three cows by hand, three times a day - and was refused the opportunity to learn hairdressing -

"No future in hairdos, girl...milk cows...that's the thing to do!", declared her Father, most sternly.

Hmm-mm-m! (says Christine...the cowgirl?)

© 2012 Christine Larsen All Rights Reserved Worldwide

You can read more of our lessons in dairy farming in my other Ezine articles that begin with - The Milky Bar Kids. If you want reading entertainment, you won't be disappointed as you follow our bumbling and humbling steps along our journey to final success. And there are pictures on my 'journal' site of farm stories and thoughts -

Kids at a Milk Bar?


Source: EzineArticles
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