For the last two weeks I’ve been milking a cow every other evening.
NO…. not my cow!
It seems that every fall I get the urge to start something new, a new skill, a new hobby, a new adventure. Once the garden’s been put to sleep and all the processing and preserving of food and herb has come to and end, I feel like there’s a void in my life, a void that, if I don’t start something new, will be felt all winter… which doesn’t sit well with me. Too much time on hand, too much time to think only leads to depression when the snow’s several feet deep and the roads become treacherous.
I’ve been reading quite a bit about life stock, especially cows, for a while now, and have become fascinated with everything “cow”. You can understand my disappointment then when we lost one of our cows this year, and lost the prospect of having a calf and a cow in milk here on the homestead as well.
So I’ve been actively looking for a small Jersey cow to add to our farm this fall, one that’s in milk, is already bred back and is used to being milked. There have been several leads, but each time there’s something about the situation that is less than desirable. One perfect little Jersey cow had horns. Now, I have nothing against horns, I think it’s healthier for an animal born with horns to be left intact, however…as a first time milkmaid (read inexperienced) it would be better to avoid an animal with horns if at all possible. Another cow was only 4 months into her lactation but was just giving two liters of milk a day, not enough for a family of 5 when one wishes to make butter, cheese and eat home made ice cream as well. Then there was the little Dexter/Jersey mix, a combination I would love to add to the homestead, but she was not bred. All these situations indicated for me to wait…well, wait I did, or still am.
Anyhow, sometime during all this back and forth about various cows I was asked to do chores for a friend who was planning to go away a weekend in December. I’ve been doing chores for this friend for several years, it’s always cut and dried, in and out, feed and water the livestock, that’s it. However, this time there’s a huge change in the normal procedure of doing his chores. He’s recently bought a milk cow and she’s just had her calf! He asked me if I had hand milked before. “Uh, no……..but I want to learn,” I told him. I guess he knew that already.
Well, this gracious and very patient farmer showed me how to milk and has allowed me to come every other evening and milk his cow with the added benefit of me taking home the milk, all in preparation for me being able to handle his chores when he’s away.
The first milking was quite embarrassing, I got maybe one or two cups of milk, fingers cramping, milk beside the bucket, nervous the cow might kick. Was I ever grateful for experienced help. The second time was not much better. At the fourth and fifth milking I felt like I got the rhythm, but was still very slow and my hands tired quickly. Since then, each milking has gone a little better with less cramping, more strength in my hands. And you know what? I still want to get a cow, I’m not turned off or disillusioned.
Farmer Hick keeps asking me if I really want to milk every day. Well, yes, I do!
What’s wrong with that anyways?
Presently, I feel like I’m one step closer to making my wish of milking our own cow a reality…I have learned to milk!
Now, where’s my milk cow?