Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 6, 2018

The best laid plans of mice and men. . .

We got a new kink in the plan of milking the cow, our Brown Swiss bull jumped the fence and joined the cow.  She must be in heat.  Since he is being very protective of her, I think I should just stay out of his way for the next few days.

I keep thinking of the t-shirt I saw at Wal-mart the other day.  I saw the back of the t-shirt which said, "God's got my back."  I am thinking this is a blessing to give me time to regroup, fix the milking stanchion and come up with a new plan.  They look like a very happy little family. . .

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December 5, 2018

Learning something new always comes with questions and frustrations when you are feeling unsuccessful.  Here is a post I made today on Botanical Bovines Facebook group:

OMG, I am feeling so unsuccessful. So today is only the third day I have tried milking. My milking stanchion needs reconfigured, so I haven't been using it. So I am basically holding the bucket in one hand and milking with the other. Yesterday I got a cup of milk and today less. She keeps raising her right foot. I read somewhere you should only milk from the right side of the cow, is that true? Should I only worry about the cleanliness of the udder and teats? She came with some manure encrusted into her hair on her right leg, now that it is not warm out, what should I do with that? How do I achieve let down? I am getting a little milk, but it seems that since I separated her from the calf all night, she is preserving her milk for him. . .I am sure this sounds frustrated, which I am, but I keep trying to take a deep breath and calm down when milking as I am trying to get her to relax. I've tried singing and could have sworn it was working yesterday. . .

Anything that is worthwhile usually takes lots of practice and tweaking (I keep trying to remind myself.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

December 4, 2018

Another day in the milking adventure.   Well, last night I was able to get Brownie (the calf) in the correct stall by putting Sage in the milking stall, and basically running the calf around the barn enough times unitl he got tired and just gave in.  LOL.  I had the stall gate open and it is at the back of the barn, so that worked.  Plain old dumb luck probably.  I told my husband that I was working hard at getting all the stupid mistakes out of the way so it would lead to success.  ha ha.

This morning I went out to the barn knowing I could easily lure Sage into the milking stall with a bucket.  I remembered to close the stall gate this time (points for me), but it didn't take me long to realize that I had designed the stanchion on the wrong side of the stall.  Sage did not want to turn to the side to get on the platform.  However, the basic premise is good (I think), and I don't think it will take much to move the headgate part to the other side of the stall.  I learned yesterday that the manger could not be independent of the stanchion and fixed that with a couple of screws (it was getting knocked over).  So today, I will try to find time to rearrange the stanchion and further organize the area.  Life is a series of tweakings, isn't it?

Well, I didn't let the stanchion stop me in my tracks.  While Sage was in the stall, I gave her a bucket of grain and milked her anyway (or tried to).  She seemed to let down better when I sang to her.  She liked the chorus from "Brass in Pocket".  Today I achieved one goal.  I now have enough milk for my coffee for the next couple of days!!  A whole cup of milk.  I got my dairy filters in the mail yesterday so added them to the wide mount jar funnel I am using to strain the milk. 

Progress. . .

Monday, December 3, 2018

December 3, 2018

Adventures in milking.  We just got our Jersey cow, Sage and her calf (we named him Brownie) on 12/1/2018 and this is the first time we have had any dairy animal.  The first night, we put the two in a stall with some grain and water and let them out in the morning, as we felt they had been through enough stress with the move.  That also gave us time to finish the milking stanchion and other modifications to the barn.  Then on the evening of 12/2, I went out to try to get the calf into a stall in the barn.  Mom was not happy that I was after her calf and showed her displeasure by pooping.  So I changed my tact and decided to put mom in the stall (I had left on the rope halters tied short.)  Pulling on the halter did not do well, so I decided to try to lure her with a bucket of grain.  That worked.  I put Mom in the stall that I had prepared for the calf, thinking I would bring in the calf and add it, then let mom out.  Alas, the stall was too small.  So when I brought in the calf, it ended up going in the milking parlor, then I let Sage out of the stall so she could wander around the pasture and get to the two hole waterer.  However, since I achieved my objective of getting the calf separated from mom, I counted myself a success.

This morning I prepared to be out at 7:30 (after I got my husband out the door with his lunch and breakfast).  While my dairy supplies have not arrived yet, I wanted to get in at least a token milking so mom could get used to me.   I put together supplies that I had to get the routine started.  I washed a bucket we had for the other cattle to wash her up with a small amount of mild soap and hot water knowing it would cool on the way out.  I got out my brush, and I had a stainless steel bucket and found a shower cap we had gotten from a motel to cover it to keep debris out.  (I wonder what year that was from?  Definitely prior to starting this homestead. . .)  I even prepared my milk filter with a wide mouth funnel and a strainer to filter the milk, since I read to do that before milking in the Keeping a family cow book. 

As I was walking through our yard, which happens to have our Brown Swiss Cattle in it due to being the only place right now with good grass that is separate from the new cow, I realized I had made my first mistake.  I was so focused on my first milking, that I didn't realize until the cattle started following me that I was walking past them with two buckets in my hands.  I managed to escape through the gate before I got trampled.  Whew!!

I lured her into the milking parlor with a bucket of grain.  When she got in, I poured it into the manger attached to the stanchion, thinking she would get in position and start eating the grain and I would closed the stanchion.  Sadly, I had not thought ahead to close the stall gate.  Sage wisely went right back out of the gate where she could get to the grain in the manger on the other side of the stall.  Oh my goodness, I am having a good lesson in what not to do.  Still, I tried to use what I had and while she was eating the grain, I brushed her, I washed her udder, and I was able to get my hands on her teats to do a cough, cough, token milking.  You will know what I mean by the picture of the bucket.

Nevertheless, progress was made and I am determined to do better.    At least I can laugh at myself. . .

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December 1, 2018

We are so excited (and a bit overwhelmed) that we finally bit the bullet and got our first dairy cow for milking!  Thanks so much to Tucker ( and his kids) at Lilly Den Farm for helping to make this happen, helping to add to our education and make sure we had what we needed! Welcome home to Sage and her son to Powell Acres!  For tonight, we have tucked them into a stall (a wee bit unfinished as we have been adding a milking stanchion) with food and water to try to shake off the stress of the move.  We are hoping to get everything completed tomorrow, and work on getting into a milking routine.  Wish us luck!  So glad to have found friends along the way who have gone out of their way to educate me in the art of having a dairy cow and how to milk.  Thanks so much to Jeannette and her cow Fern for being so patient with my milking attempts and helping me get ready for the big day.  Thanks again to Joe and Michele.  It takes a village!
Their cozy new home in our pasture.

We finished the library, including adding some new lighting, that we of course found for a bargain which meant there was some bead stringing to do.  However, my handsome, free electrician installed them for me, so they really put the icing on the cake.

A friend came over (Thanks Jeanne!) and we worked on items for the church bazaar together.  Jeanne was creative with the faces on her snowman marshmallows.  We were able to put the food coloring on them with toothpicks.  We put them in white hot chocolate mix, as well as on their own and made some jars of chocolate chip cookie mix.

We were having trouble with way too much water in our barn area as well as the water draining off of the roof and landing right in front of the barn door which made for a mucky entrance and a floor you could sink into up to your ankles.  Knowing we had a cow and calf coming, we knew something had to be done.

John and I put some cheap plastic gutters on backwards as the water was draining under the metal trim.  The great thing is, you could hardly tell they were up there.  We attached them with some self tapping screws.  They did a great job of channeling the majority of the water away from the door.

This inspired me in turn to try do do something with the wet mucky floor.  So when I was trying to figure out what to do, I got a vision in my head of the Egyptians stomping straw into clay to make bricks.  So I started peeling layers of hay off of our round bale of hay, laying it down on the floor and stomping it in.  As I was stomping, I was working to flatten the floor.  If I found a place where I would sink, I added more hay and stomped some more.  The floor is much better!  Sometimes we don't even think about the cheap solutions.  Cost us less than the $25 we paid for the bale of hay.

I took a name off of the Angel tree at church and the child asked for a Barbie and some clothing.  You should have known that I found a Farmer Barbie and found the little girl some clothing to match.  I even threw together a matching chicken.   When the boots arrived, it really was a perfect matching outfit.  I sure hope she likes it.


With the cold settling in, I have been having trouble with getting cold shoulders as my shoulders stick out from the bed covers.  I knew I needed some pajamas that covered my shoulders a bit, but I wanted something that looked more attractive and used warm fabric.  I bought a long flannel night gown for $1.99 at the Goodwill store and remade it into an updated farm girl look with the no trespassing sign removed.   No tangling up in a long skirt in the middle of the night!  The things we do to save money so we can spend it on cows!  Ain't life Grand!