Day 3 – Aug. 16, 2013
There will obviously come a time—hopefully soon—when the morning milkings will, by and large, be uneventful. At that point, I’ll quit regularly blogging about them. But that time is not yet, and while we’re riding this sharp learning curve, I’m going to milk this blog series for all it’s worth. Yes, a pun.
Today’s theme: Getting Help From Sassy
Sassafras is Gerty’s calf. She was born on July 17, 2013, and she is something like 1/4 holstein, 1/4 jersey, 1/4 angus, and 1/4 charolais. Truly a product of a globalized world.
As I noted yesterday, Sassy can put her head between the slats of the milking stall and suckle one (or more) of Gerty’s quarters while I milk another. She makes an absolutely slobbery, frothy mess, though since she hasn’t had any milk for 12 hours, who can blame her? (She is nibbling on grass already, though, so she’s okay.)
Yesterday, we tried to get her off, and we were ultimately successful. Today, after doing a little late-night reading for tips on keeping the milk cow from kicking, I decided to let Sassy do her thing.
I won’t deny I approached the milking stall this morning with some trepidation. I’m already tired of all the kicking and tail-swatting and shifting and shuffling. (I know, I need to tie up her tail. I just haven’t bothered finding a piece of rope. Call me lazy.) But we calmly started the morning routine, and Gerty wasn’t hollering at us like she had been for the past two mornings. I think she’s already getting the hang of it.
I only got kicked one time this morning, and it wasn’t very hard. And Gerty also kicked Sassafras one time. So I’m on the same terms with Gerty as her calf is! Success!
Obviously, having the calf suckling while I milk keeps Gerty calm. It’s worth having a calm cow, for now, even if that means we don’t get all the milk.
In all, it was a nice morning milking. My hands are getting the feel, more and more, for squeezing out the milk. Her teats are stretching a bit more, I think, which is nice, because I have fairly large hands, so grasping a short teat can be challenging.
No milk ended up being kicked or spilled, and I only squeezed it down my hand a couple of times. The whole process went by very quickly. That’s partly because we only milked two quarters, but also because we’re all just getting better at this. And we did manage to strip those two completely. Sassafras continued working on the other two.
And from those two teats, we ended up with slightly less than a half-gallon of milk. So I think it’s reasonable to assume that Gerty is producing about two gallons per day right now. As I understand, her production will continue to increase until about the three-month point, at which time it will level off and then begin diminishing—though the butterfat content will rise, which is good, because right now we’re a little light on the cream.
All I can say is, I’m glad we’re working out these kinks on nice mornings when the temperatures are in the 60s, rather than humid, sweltering mornings (that can be characteristic of this time of year… we’re just in a beautiful weather pattern right now!), or frigid, frozen mornings.
Having farm fresh milk is something we have dreamed of for years, and we are finally enjoying it. Thank you Lord!