Day 2 – Aug. 15, 2013
I’m 30 minutes late milking this morning, and Gerty is bellowing again.
We commence with yesterday’s process: she rushes through the barely-opened gate into the stall and begins devouring her morning snack. I wash her udders and only receive one half-hearted kick on the arm.
I begin realizing that Gerty doesn’t like it when I just go right in and grab an udder. Rather, if I begin patting and pressing on her side, then her flank, and then move to the udder, it’s less surprising for her and she doesn’t kick me. This discovery pleases me greatly.
Today, I have a plastic cup into which I milk, and I dump it occasionally into the bucket. It’s not as heavy as the bucket I was holding yesterday. Overall, the method seems to work fairly well, though it obviously ties up one of my hands, so doubling the time it takes to milk. But at least I actually get to take milk inside, rather than her kicking a bucket over and ruining everything.
I realize that I not only failed to address any of yesterday’s problems, but that I have two more problems to add to the list:
-Gerty’s calf, Sassafras (and yes, we call her Sassy), can put her head between the slats on the milking stall, and she manages to grab hold of a teat. So she’s suckling and frothing the teat next to the one I’m milking, draining milk five times faster than I am. There’s no way I can push her away. Kate eventually chases her off, while I make a mental note to add another slat to the stall. There’s calf slobber all over the udders, and I have to rewash them.
-I’ve GOT to get a milking stool. Bending over and squatting just won’t cut it.
This morning, I receive only a handful of kicks—less than ten—and I count my blessings. None of them are aimed directly at me—they’re more of the gentler, under-body kind of kicks. But Gerty is noticeably more restless. I persevere, refusing to let her bully her way out of the milking session. She eventually calms down, and I manage to strip out two udders completely, and I discover that the other two have been basically drained already by the calf.
We end up with just over a half-gallon this morning. Slight improvement; let’s hope it keeps trending that way. I think as I get better at milking and after I fix the aforementioned issues, we might actually reach a gallon a day soon.