The good part first.
Gerty is giving us a really nice yield of milk, and I think it might improve a bit more over the next week or so as she settles back into life at The Ozark House (and, of course, life without her calf). She’s bellowing less frequently, and we’re all grateful for that.
Yesterday, she gave us about half a gallon in the morning milking and 3/4ths in the evening milking. Also, we’re definitely seeing a cream volume increase. Maybe twice as much cream as we were getting before! I’ll do some measuring soon.
Milking has been a bit of a task since I got her back, however, as we were blasted with an Arctic storm. This morning, it was -6 degrees when I went out to milk.
As long as I bundle up, it’s actually not so bad. The most annoying thing is that my breath freezes on my mustache and beard, and my hat kinda gets in the way of leaning forward against the milking stall. The hands actually stay pretty warm, since they’re making contact with the ole’ udder.
However, this evening, I experienced some frustration.
I finished milking, and thought to myself, “I’m going to put a picture on the blog of the milk pail sitting in the snow!” So I nestled it in a patch of virgin snow, but had one more farm task to do before going inside for my camera. I had to give water to the ducks (they’re about 100 yards out in the pasture). Ozark loves to go with me, and protests loudly if I don’t let him. So I did, and I gave the ducks water while he glared at them intimidatingly. We’re a great team.
We trudged through the snow back to the house. Well, actually I trudged through the snow—Ozark bounded joyously across the blanketed pasture. I envy his ease and energy… and fur coat.
So as I closed the gate, I pointed my flashlight back up toward the house, and saw a horrible sight. My wonderful pup had his face buried in his own personal heaven: the milk pail.
I hollered at him, and might have swung a leg at him (that’s a nice way of saying “kicked”). I was so furious. I calmed myself down enough to quickly put him in his pen and stomp indoors.
At first, I resolved not to tell Kate about it. I spent 30 minutes getting that wonderful milk, and I couldn’t bear the thought that it had been ruined (read my other blog post about another gallon of milk that was ruined).
But for better or worse, I can’t keep anything from my wife, and I told her as soon as I got upstairs. “But,” I said, “We’re keeping this milk! We’re drinking it. I don’t care if Ozark drank from it, we’re drinking it too!”
Kate is wise, and she let me believe that. She didn’t contradict me. She just quietly strained the milk into a container and put it in the fridge.
Within an hour, I had come to my senses and realized three things:
1) I do not want to drink after my dog. I love him. And I do kiss his nose sometimes. But I’m not drinking milk in which he has bathed his tongue.
2) We are already accumulating a lot of milk, really fast. At the rate of almost a gallon and a half per day, we’ll have no shortage of milk. Even after selling to friends.
3) Maybe my animals deserve a treat. As much as Ozark tortures me, I love him. He is a wonderful guard dog for our home and does honestly help me sometimes when I need to herd some ducks or chickens or a wayward calf. Maybe he deserves a little milk. And those poor chickens have tolerated sub-zero temperatures and are still giving us a few eggs! And poor Teacup (cat) spent last night underneath our firewood lean-to. I didn’t know she was there until this morning; I don’t know when she decided to go hide in there, but I’m sure she was freezing. So maybe they’ve all earned a little lactic treat.
So in the morning, while icicles form on my mustache, I’ll offer my wonderful farm animals a rare, sweet treat: Raw Milk. The FDA would be horrified.